Henry David Thoreau, perhaps the antithesis in philosophy from the societal revolution upon which we are embarking, said in his opening chapter of Walden, interestingly entitled, "Economy": “I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. Here is life, an experiment to a great extent untried by me; but it does not avail me that they have tried it. If I have any experience which I think valuable, I am sure to reflect that this my Mentors said nothing about.”
In light of that statement, commentary from this seasoned senior may be of no interest to the young, or the old for that matter, but that remains to be seen.
Regarding The Stimulus, conventional wisdom would say that one cannot spend to save, or, save by spending; but this stimulus may be more invigorating than we think; and since what’s done is done, why not think positively?
I have in mind our mid-twenties and younger grandchildren, and know that to them the events in Washington are quite remote. They are busy with their jobs and day-to-day life. One grandson, Brian, is soon to be married; both he and his fiancée, Annie, are working, enjoying the start of their venture into the future. They are stimulated by life as they know it and, I suspect, don’t spend much time worrying about the mistakes of my generation, or for that matter, those of their parents' generation. The opportunities that come their way will be taken up, or passed up, even as they were in our time. Their learning will come more from doing than by generational directions or example.
Did the Great Depression stop my folks, who married in 1928 and proceeded to have three children (Billy in 1932)? No. Not at all! They lived their lives on through the 30’s, World War II 40's, the docile 50’s, rebellious 60’s, hateful 70’s, inflated, then invigorated 80’s. And believe me, Washington, D.C., proposed and carried out some questionable programs throughout those years.
And just to round out my parents' story, they had started life pretty much before cars, bathrooms, and electricity. Their parameters were quite different from those of my granddaughter Roshana, born in 2002 amidst cell phones, internet and heart transplants.
While there are a few guidelines I would like to offer, which could be of value in making The Stimulus more effective, I will resist. The younger generations will find the way to live with it and hopefully prosper, while we, many of whom are now bereft of our hard-earned financial security, will muddle through on our own, even as we started out.
Returning to Thoreau, he also said: “So thoroughly and sincerely are we compelled to live, reverencing our life, and denying the possibility of change. This is the only way, we say; but there are as many ways as there can be drawn radii from one center. All change is a miracle which is taking place every instant.”
Had I been consulted, I would not have proposed the particular change which is now law, but as my daughter Cathy likes to say, “They didn’t ask me.”
I suggest that the best course of action we can follow now is to push for reason, common sense, and fairness as this stimulus money is spread around. But, most of all, trust that our young generation will do the right thing.
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