In a recent post, I answered the question why some citizens do not want to work, or at least appear to not want to. Many have reached a point of diminishing returns, and they look up at the working poor and want no part of that struggle. Today, I aim to begin showing how we can collectively, and effectively, take back our economy so that it works for all. It will demand sacrifice, thinking outside traditional channels, and affect every aspect of our lives....but I believe it will be worthwhile in the long run. Let's start with what you can do. These are only suggestions, mind you.
Think and dream differently. The most critical part of recovery from this mess is a fundamental change in thinking. We must abandon the mindset that acquiring material wealth is the goal. Let's change that to attaining financial security for all. Most of us belong to what I call the "debt class," so I do not believe this is a real stretch.
Stop consuming frivolously, start consuming smarter. Let's stop buying on impulse, following fashion trends, and living beyond our means. We should start demanding, as consumers, products from socially-responsible companies. We shop, and dine, locally as much as possible, every day. We return goods to the community through charitable donations. How do they put it? "Gently used?" We start growing our own food, and demand local relaxation of codes that may currently prohibit that, replacing them with friendlier regulations that recognize such concepts as food security. We may participate in community gardens as a substitute for, or a complement to, our efforts at home. We become our own producers as well as consumers.
Choose your employer. Let me repeat that: choose your employer. You don't think of it that way, do you? You wait there thinking "I hope they choose me, I hope they choose me" for a job you are only lukewarm about anyway. You are better than that. Value yourself. Make sure the company is one you want to work for, that they have a track record of treating employees well, treating customers with respect, and obeying the regulations that govern their line of work. Maybe you really need to be your own employer. Excellent. No risk, no reward. In any event, be doing something that doesn't sap all your energy, or leave you wanting to kick the dog when you get home. Reducing stress is the number one factor in creating a better life.
Leave your bank for a credit union. The big financial institutions that make up Wall Street do not care about you unless you are a shareholder, CEO, or extremely lucrative client. Do you use their private banking services? If not, then leave them for a credit union where the customer pretty much is the owner. They are, in my experience, far friendlier, more responsive, and rarely charge you fees. We need to leave banks in droves, my friends. They will have to respond with better products if they want to survive.
Hold your representatives accountable. Just today I received a mini survey on a postcard from my federal House Representative. I plan on calling and writing to let him know what I think of his party's agenda. I admit I have been remiss in doing this kind of thing. We don't have the luxury of apathy anymore. Today, with social media, there is no excuse for not keeping up with the latest news out of Washington, DC, your own statehouse, county commission, or city council. Shoot, even our President-elect is using Twitter for crying out loud. Not responsibly, but.... Participate.
Consider running for office yourself. The people we are electing to office today don't even begin to resemble ourselves in terms of wealth, occupation, and personal experience. There is far too little economic diversity among elected officials, too little occupational diversity, ethnic diversity, too few young people, and too few "disabled" representatives. Again, with technology, you can run a campaign on a shoestring. Look at what Bernie Sanders did. He even has a foundation to help people like us run for office.
Next time, or in the near future, I'll post what government needs to do to help us help ourselves. Lastly, I'll give the media some guidance since they appear to have lost their way, at least through traditional channels. It is the new year, time to make some resolutions to live differently.