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Don't lose people in economic jungle

November 11, 2007|By Lloyd "Pete" Waters

While attending that little two room school house in Dargan back in the late 50s and 60s, I didn't concentrate too much on world economics. After all, I was a long way from Social Security and I didn't think there would be any left even if I did manage to live long enough to collect it. Gas was cheap and life was good.

More recently, while I was making some rounds at a local nursing home the other day, I came across Lucy Boyer Davis, a quaint, witty and happy little lady who celebrates her 88th birthday the day after Armistice day.

She has certainly seen a lot in her many years, lived through the great Depression and probably knows a thing or two about economics. She already knows that her Social Security check in January will be 2.3 percent higher and as our economy worsens every penny means something, especially to older folks.

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As a baby boomer myself, I am a little more concerned about the economy today than I was in my Dargan youth. I have to tell you, I'm not really happy about what I see.

The price of oil is nearing $100 a barrel and that means higher gasoline and heating oil prices.

The housing market is in a deep downward spiral. There is a real concern with this issue and its overall impact on our economy.

Automobile manufacturers are experiencing huge losses. Ford and GM are displacing workers.

Some 47 million Americans live each day without health insurance.

Credit card debt for the average household exceeds $8,400.

The cost of the war in Iraq is now estimated in trillions of dollars instead of billions. We never once used that many zeros in our Dargan math classes.

Prescription and medical costs are becoming a real burden for all people, especially the elderly.

The monthly budgets for Lucy Boyer Davis and others like her are getting tighter and tighter each month even with the small raise.

Baby boomers nearing retirement age are also beginning to feel the pinch of their dollars. What does the future hold for them?

Major companies are outsourcing work to other countries.

Even the collection plates in churches are beginning to take a hit.

When I watch those people on Wall Street standing on their little balcony, I always see them applauding. When the market goes up they applaud, and when the market goes down they applaud. I guess they're happy when it's up and hoping it will go back up when it's down. Economics at work I suppose. Sometimes their faces tell another story if you study them.

While listening to Alan Greenspan talk the other day about his new book, "The Age of Turbulence," I thought I might be able to learn a little more about economics. As he explained some of his theories, he said the single most important factor that influences American economics is totally unpredictable.

That factor which affects the economy most in our country is simply whether the American people will spend or not spend their money. Do they have confidence in our economy? When they do spend, then revenues flow and our government flourishes; when they don't spend everything heads toward a slow- down and possible recession. I thought about current family budgets.

As I sit here reflecting on my youth in that little two room school in Dargan, economics still remains a puzzling subject for me. Based on some of those issues mentioned above, I have an uneasy feeling about our economy. I believe many other people are becoming equally concerned.

Lucy Boyer Davis has seen many things in her 88 years of life and continues to smile and look forward to her 2.3 percent Social Security raise in January. I can tell she is an optimist.

I am hoping too that those people who represent us in local, state and federal politics remember people like Lucy. As they examine budgetary matters and economic issues, a concern for people should be a prominent factor in their decision-making process. At the end of the day, the future of our economy is, after, all directly linked to the future of our people.

Lloyd "Pete" Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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