Friday, January 30, 2009

Under Pressure

(There is woolly content in here eventually)

After reading a very amusing John Cusack v. Nic Cage analysis on Pajiba, I have that song running through my head. It's apt, considering the current economic situation, no? In recent days, I've read not just about the tens of thousands of jobs lost on a daily basis, but also about at least two murder-suicides prompted by feelings of economic helplessness. There was also a report on about 5 men who were living in the 6 by 8 foot crawl space under the porch of a home in New Jersey. People are losing jobs, homes, savings, and more. How soon until we see 21st century Skid Rows? Instead of Hooverville, we can call them Bush Gardens. A local acquaintance confessed recently that she was interviewing for part-time jobs because the economy was really affecting her family.

We are lucky, secure, for now. But there are so many who are not. And this is not because they didn't work hard enough, or get a good enough education, or do anything wrong at all. This is a daunting situation for a young new President to face, so early in his term. Many of the economists I've been reading or seeing say two things: first, in order to get us out of this, government needs to spend money; and second, straight-out rebates to taxpayers won't help.

After years of the Bush Administration spending us into the tank, it's hard to think of spending more money and continuing to increase the deficit. But if the government funds projects that will lead to employment, then that's what we need. We can fix/rebuild/modernize infrastructure, start the next space race, green the country, whatever. Get people moving. Spur innovation. Innovation + imagination leads to new development, growth, continued employment. I'm not claiming that things will be perfect, or problems will magically disappear, but if we don't do anything, we're going to keep spiralling ourselves into a depression (if we're not more than halfway there already).

What about giving money to the private sector, I hear some of you thinking? Um, because that hasn't worked so far? What happened to all that money we gave out late last year, that was supposed to be used to get banks to lend money again? Oh, yeah, it went to bonuses for the CEOs, and to buy up other banks. Lending didn't pick up. (See below, too, for discussion of tax cuts to wealthy and corporations.)

Most of the economists I've seen opine on this say we're not spending enough yet.

The saddest thing I've seen lately is a pack of dyed-in-the-wool Republicans who are continuing to argue for what is essentially that hoary old chestnut, trickle down economics. We must give tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations, they say, because those folks will go out and invest the money, thereby creating new jobs. You'd think that an honest look at the last 29 years would dispel that myth. The Bush tax cuts were based on those principles. We know they don't work.

The next debate is between those who support giving people a lump sum rebate, like last year's, or giving them a small tax cut that will increase their monthly take-home pay. Studies show that rebates actually do not stimulate the economy. People look at the lump sum of money as being separate from their net spendable income, and do smart things with it like pay down credit cards, rather then spend it. There's nothing wrong with that, but if your aim is to get people to spend more, that's not the way to do it. Studies also show that even small increases in take-home pay (which tax cuts would achieve) result in increased spending. People think of their take-home pay as spendable money. If that increases, so does their spending.

Nothing we do is going to be perfect. There will be waste, there will be efforts that fail. The risk here, economists say, is in not doing enough, rather than in doing too much. If we allow the prospect of some wasted money to paralyze us, we'll just end up in worse shape. We don't have the time or the luxury of trying to craft the perfect solution. But we need to do something.

Now all of this emphasis on spending, both government and personal, is directly related to the current economic crisis. All of this has really gotten me thinking about how much of our security is based on consumption. Our economy is almost completely dependent on how much we spend. In order to keep the economy humming, we have to keep consuming. There's a whole other blog post lurking in that concept. You've already indulged my navel-gazing enough at this point, so I won't dump my feelings about THAT on you, too.

The Woolly Current Events

Alas, not much. Between snow days, doctor's appointments and other facts of life, there hasn't been much time to do anything. I'm also kind of between projects, which make it worse. I need a certain amount of prep time to start a project, time I haven't had lately. So I've worked on my sort-of-ugly-but-comfy Anne socks at doctor's appointments.

You just never know what a yarn will look like knit up.

I've also done another Alpine Frost swatch, this one using Knitpicks merino laceweight. This swatch worked out very well. I've come to the conclusion that more rustic, wooly yarns work better for this pattern for me. Maybe more expert crocheters can make it work with other yarns, but not me. The yarn is nice, but it doesn't have as much personality as the Melosa:

Here's a picture of the two swatches together (not a very good picture, unfortunately):

I think I will do the scarf in the Melosa that I've ordered.

A bit of exciting news that I missed earlier -- the brilliant Cookie A. has a sock book coming out soon! I love all of her designs. The book has all new designs, too. Hmmmm, Cookie A. book, + Sundara sock club yarn......

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Greetings again. Hopefully this comment will post. First off, you are "right on" with the alpine lace scarf. It looks great, and the yarn you've chosen looks fine. See, you're already a crocheter!! Nice to have some company. This is awful to say, and I fear I'll be accused of fiber profiling, but crocheters are more likely to be Republican, evangelical Christian, and overall more conservative (also smokers)than knitters.

I'm not sure why that is. Please don't even ask me how I came to that conclusion--just many years of observation, and that's all I'll admit to. (Sorry if I've offended fellow crocheters out there; I am definitely a crocheter at heart, not a knitter. Sort of like, I can complain about my sisters, but my husband can't!)

I had comments about the economy too, but I see emails coming in that I must respond to. Urghh. Later.