Walking Cautiously Into the Future

I’m sitting in the newsroom watching President Barack Obama’s address to the joint session of Congress about the economy. We are told this is not the State of the Union because, according to the Constitution, he cannot deliver such a speech this early in his administration.

However, this feels like the State of the Union. From the ceremonial entrances to the decision to keep one member of the cabinet away from the Capitol in the event the unthinkable takes place. Of course, they decided on the most controversial member of the cabinet to handle this duty to stay away: Attorney Eric “Americans are cowards when it comes to race” Holder.

All we need is Obama to say “The state of our Union is strong” and this would be the State of the Union.

However, as I watch this, I can’t help but be worried. For the first time in my working lifetime, I do not know what the future holds. Each day, I see the stock market tanking. I see people I know being laid off. I see all the institutions that were believed were solid start to crumble and fall.


Photo courtesy: AP/ABC News

You don’t even have to look at your 401K to know things are bad, although if you do take a peak you will feel like its 1997 all over again. That’s the last time the dow was this low.

I know when I started working way back in 1992, there were economic troubles but I don’t think I ever really worried it wouldn’t get better. I always assumed whatever economic woes this nation had would disappear because this is “America”. Now, I do not know.

I guess my sense of pessimism is fueled by the fact that this is a crisis of our own doing. It’s not cyclical, it’s because we were greedy as a nation and took short term gains over long term investment. Now, we are feeling the effects of years of neglect and ignorance when it comes to all things financial. We are seeing what happens when a country is driven by consumption rather than production.

So is Obama’s radical spending plan the answer? I  don’t know although even I realize that you cannot spend $787 billion to rescue the economy and then expect to be able to cut the federal deficit in half in four years. President Obama may be preaching the politics of hope … but that scenario is a bit too hopeful.

Worst of all, I fear this empire going down in flames while the two parties in the country argue and fight over what is the right course of action. Whether its spending spree by the Democrats or the Republican tax cut craze. While they fiddle, our futures may go up in smoke.

So here I am, about 20 years after I first skipped into the future full of hope. Now I step cautiously into a future as dark and unknown as it has been in my lifetime.

One last thing. Could the folks in Congress please stop with the stand up applause all throughout the address. They have been doing it for years … and its anoying. Actually get something done in DC and then you can cheer to your hearts content.

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