I saw today's headline on a bumper sticker. "I refuse to participate in the recession", it said. That's funny...I've been saying that for months now.

There is a difference between being prepared for a recession, making smart money moves during a recession and throwing up your hands and admitting defeat to a recession. Every day, I see doom-and-gloom stories on the news about how we are currently in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. First of all, I don't think that is even true. The recessions of 1981-82 and 1991 were pretty bad. The one in 1991 was the worst for me, because I was out of work for six months. There was literally no work to be had. Yes, a lot of money has been lost during this recession, but that was due to a lot of bad decisions by a lot of people. Unfortunately, many innocent bystanders got caught up in that web.

I'm not saying that things aren't serious right now. They are. Unemployment continues to climb and the banking and housing sectors of the economy have been battered. But, what if you have a job, rent an apartment (or own your house free and clear) and didn't have a bunch of money socked away in the stock markets? Are you feeling any pain?

The answer is probably "no". I socked away some money before the recession really got into full swing, but I still buy stocks. I keep my eye out for other job opportunities "just in case", but I have also noticed that there are still jobs to be had where I live. The main difference I have noticed between now and a year ago is that some things cost more money now, especially food.

It does no one any good to stick your head in the sand and pretend the economy is just fine. It isn't. However, I think it does more harm than good to become mired in the belief that things won't get any better any time soon. Where is the optimism? As long as the populace remains pessimistic and refuses to make credit available, start businesses, invest in business (i.e. spend money), the recession will only be prolonged.

We need to regain our confidence not only in capitalism and our economy, but in ourselves. Despite the dire predictions by the International Monetary Fund that the recession will only get worse and could last another year, I remain hopeful that the housing industry will eventually flush out the toxic loans from its system, banks will return to common sense lending and consumers will take a more active role in managing their finances.

I am not participating in the recession. I will continue to work hard, save money for the future, and support my local businesses with my purchases. It is better than the alternative.


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