There is such a thing as a silver lining, even in a global recession. Lucky for us, a recession and a job change can be a good thing, if you think about it.
I have a friend whose TV career became an unemployment ticket to nowhere. Recently he announced that he had stated a video service to make videos of loved ones for families – like a grandmother or grandfather talking about their life that their kids and grandkids can replay in the future when that is all they have for a memory. For the first time in years, he sounds excited.
He’s now an entrepreneur in the Midwest, like the guy who returned to his village in Mexico after his U.S. job dried up. Now he’s helping build jobs in Mexico where none had existed before. That will bring new life to Mexico’s economy, which needs to offer jobs that involve more options than working for a cartel.
The experience immigrants gained in the U.S. is now benefiting their home country, if given the chance.
I went through this during the Texas bust of the 80’s –only then it was one state instead of the entire planet. But it worked out. During that long period of unemployment I learned to survive as an entrepreneur and started up the first of several businesses. Those long quiet moments lead to time to write a book –about a potential terrorist attack on the U.S. That was just before Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1991 and the WTC bombing of 1993. Had I not been laid off, I never would have had time to think about it and would not have written about it.
That led to a stint as a TV terrorism analyst on 9/11 and that lead to my getting into a security technology that protects people and their property. That has put me in a situation where my business is growing wildly at a time when most are struggling. The layoff of many years ago led to this zig-zag ladder up to a better situation.
This recession will end up doing the same for others who find old jobs disappearing. Will they really miss working a meat packing line versus building solar panels and wind turbines? Being out of work is an opportunity to get a higher education. Another friend who was laid off was able to get financing to buy the pet store where she once worked. That is a step up, and it took access to capital to make it happen.
People are going to be doing something new in the new economy that emerges from the ashes of over-consumption and a regulatory system that is not based on “anything goes.” Americans need a reset in our values. It’s not all about how much money we make or how much food we eat. It’s about making a living in new ways and doing something to benefit the larger community as well. One of those community services was yesterday’s “Trash Bash” to clean up our beaches near Kemah/Seabrook, etc. It includes Rotary’s “Books for the World” program that takes us outside our obsessive focus on ourselves and includes the world. The Lions have a program to supply eyeglasses to poor people worldwide.
Everyone is getting back to earth on their spending habits. The Wall Street types who forgot that have seen that the public isn’t going to tolerate someone taking millions in bonuses for crashing the ship into an iceberg.
For too long everyone who could over consumed. The silver lining is that this recession will help restore some values and moderation in our habits, along with new job skills and greater appreciation for friends, family and a helpful government whose job is to provide some life boats and repair money to fix the ship’s damaged economic system.
It is a messy process and a hard one, but like Pearl Harbor, we can rebuild a stronger and better society as a result of this experience.