By Katie Prisco-Buxbaum
As the conflict in the Middle East continues to escalate, there is one word in the back of every head and on the tip of every tongue: draft. The parallels between Vietnam and Afghanistan are eerily similar: both countries have leaders from corrupt families in control, guerilla extremists which make the wars seemingly endless, and both wars have an extremely low level of support. The only difference between the wars, which has prevented the public from holding constant demonstrations and protests, is the existence of a military draft.
Many political columnists, such as Jimmy Breslin, suggest that, “If you want to end [the war in Afghanistan], bring back the draft. A draft would force the today’s youth to abandon their TVO and Blackberry to fight a war they don’t believe in; in Breslin’s logic it would create such opposition, as it did in Vietnam, essentially crushing U.S. involvement. Currently in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the draft was replaced by the use of the National Guard and reservists. However, this “back-door draft,” is beginning to backfire as these troops age and resist deployments.
President Obama, who preached his exit strategy and his anti-war stance throughout his election, resurged troops adding approximately thirty thousand, in hopes of showing the Middle East that the U.S. was not going to pick up and leave without instituting some kind of order.
Yet, as the war’s popularity exponentially decreases, the deficit tab increases and the public begins to associate it with Vietnam, perhaps a draft would be the kind of legislation to force people to come out against the war so feverishly that the government is forced to end it.
By Marie Reda
2009 marked the 100th anniversary of the coupon, but the most frequent users of coupons may come as a surprise to you. A study conducted by the Nielsen Company found that affluent suburbanites (making $70k or more a year) use coupons more than the average U.S. household. A whopping 1.6 billion coupons were redeemed nationwide in the first half of 2009 alone, up 23 percent from 2008. The coupon’s popularity has grown as a result of the recession. However, there are still disbelievers out there who think clipping coupons is a waste of time and doesn’t translate into real savings. So who’s right, the coupon clipper or skipper? The answer depends on how wisely you’re using those coupons.
Stores offer coupons in order to entice you to buy more than you expected to. Although coupons can save you money at the register, you shouldn’t let a coupon convince you to buy something you don’t want. If you spend money on something that you don’t use, you aren’t really saving money. So if the coupon applies to necessities like toilet paper, it’s worth it to use the coupon. On the other hand, if you have a coupon for a brand name product, make sure the final price is cheaper than the generic alternative that you would’ve bought had there not been a coupon. Even with the savings from the coupon, the store brand still might be a better bargain. Bottom line: ask yourself if it’s something you’d buy even if you didn’t have a coupon for it; don’t make a purchase just because you have a coupon. Many coupons offer savings only when you purchase two of a particular item, which may be practical for storable products. But let the dieter beware: the more you stock up on snacks, the more you’ll eat them. Even though buying two pints of ice cream should last you twice as long as one, don’t be surprised if they go as fast as one.
It sounds like avoiding coupons has its advantages, but coupon clippers still have a case as long as they use coupons prudently. Try to use coupons on products that are already on sale or among the featured savings items when you use your shopper’s card. Joining customer clubs at grocery stores you shop at often will provide you with exclusive, members-only coupons. You’ll make the most of your coupons by keeping them in a place where you won’t forget them as you leave the house and head for the store. Take it a step further by using a binder with sections for different types of coupons (such as canned goods, dairy/meat, etc.). Save even more by using both a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon. You can even check for store coupons on the website of the store you’re heading to, but keep in mind that the goal is to save money, not justify spending more of it. Once you’re in the store, pick up the circular to combine the store’s discounts with your clipped coupons.
Now that you know how to use coupons to maximize savings, where should you look to find them? You can go the traditional route and find them in the Sunday newspaper inserts, but don’t stop there. Web sites allow you to print out manufacturer coupons online for even more savings, and online coupons frequently have higher value than the ones in the newspaper. Check out CouponMom.com, SmartSource.com, and Coupons.com for online and in-store coupon offers. Also contrary to popular belief, there are coupons for organic products, which can be found at MamboSprouts.com.
The current state of the economy has probably put a damper on your spending, but it’s up to you to minimize your expenses and maximize your savings. Saving a few cents here and there with coupons will save you more than a few dollars in the long run, and you’ll make others feel more comfortable using coupons too. So ignore that coupon skipper mentality and get clipping.
‘Tis the season to go shopping. As Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Dave Barry describes it, “Once again, we come to the holiday season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.” However, consumers aren’t going to be as jolly about this holiday’s shopping as you’d expect.
For one thing, merchants have stocked less holiday merchandise since they felt the pain of unsold merchandise after Christmas last year. This season, sellers have up to 30 percent less merchandise stocked. Without the fear of being overstocked, merchants will be less generous with holiday promotions in order to preserve their profits.
There will still be a fair share of discounts this season, but the markdowns won’t be the steals consumers are used to. Inventory costs rack up huge expenses for retailers, so they ordered less than they expect to sell. Since they were extremely cautious in preparing for this holiday season, some may not have ordered enough goods. So what’s a savvy shopper to do? Retail experts suggest making the purchase right away when you find what you’re looking for since holiday bargains won’t get better as Christmas Eve draws nearer. Shoppers shouldn’t expect big sales immediately after Black Friday.
With the unemployment rate at its highest level in over two decades, consumers are understandably more apprehensive about their holiday shopping. The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to decline 1% this year. 53% of shoppers plan to spend less this season than the previous one, and some have started their shopping earlier to ease the impact of holiday spending.
Despite potential for economic improvement, consumers have reduced their spending on gifts. On average, shoppers expect to buy 18.2 gifts this holiday season, down from 21.5 last year and 23.1 in ‘07. With so many people out of a job, higher taxes, grocery bills, and gas prices, we need a way to cut back. Many families will be struggling with reduced income and the presents of Christmas past seem like a thing of the past for some.
Now’s the time to arm yourself with money saving strategies to tackle your holiday shopping head-on. To ensure that you stay within your budget, determine your financial limit for each person you’re shopping for before you hit the stores. Santa shouldn’t be the only prudent one making a list and checking it twice. Take the grand total that you’re willing to spend and divide it up amongst the people on your list however you see fit. Keep track of all your spending, no matter how trivial the cost. They’ll add up faster than the number of items on your holiday to-do list if you’re not careful.
Remember to include gift-related costs like gift wrapping, cards, and shipping costs. Ask if the store offers free gift wrapping, and take advantage of it! With retailers making more stringent return policies, hold onto your receipts in a special folder and always ask for a gift receipt. Using a single credit card when making holiday purchases can help you keep track of your holiday spending, but beware of the “buy now, pay later” options. Retailers are not doing this purely out of the goodness of their hearts. The purchase price has already been adjusted upward to make up for it, and interest charges will make this option less attractive than it appears.
It has been said, “Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money.” Make sure you stick to this, so you’re not paying off your 25 days of Christmas shopping bills come next July.
It’s important to do your homework. Try your hand at comparison shopping, which can be done online in the comfort of your own home. As you’re browsing the sites, read the fine print that outlines the retailer’s return policy. Oftentimes, shoppers are in such as rush that they forget to look into the store’s return policy.
Before you click the buy button online, use your Google skills to search for online promotional codes and coupons since most online merchants tend to have them. Some websites like Ebates even give customers 2-5% of their money back on purchases. Ebates offers customers exclusive deals (including free shipping) from more than 800 retail chains, including Target and Gap. After you’ve done comparison shopping, you can try to price match when you venture into the stores.
However, before you head out, organize your shopping trip by categorizing your gift list and planning your route accordingly. This will save you a lot of time, and time is money, especially around the holidays. In the interest of time (and money), you’d be wise to do your shopping after 6 p.m. the day before the sales start. If advertisements claim that storewide holiday discounts will commence on a Wednesday, don’t wait until then to flock to the store since, more often than not, special discounts are put into the system after 6 p.m. the day before.
It may not always be the case, but if you can save money while avoiding the crowds, it’s worth a shot. If you really dread the holiday crowds, avoid the mall and other obvious shopping destinations altogether. Instead, search for presents in used bookstores and antique stores for more unique presents. As an added bonus, the gift recipients will have a harder time finding out exactly how much you paid for their gifts. (Admit it. We’ve all been guilty of this at some point, and there’s nothing wrong with being curious.)
In the midst of all this, it’s best to remember that the holidays are about showing people how much you care about them, not how much you spend on them. It’s not a competition. There are many ways to put that notion into practice this holiday season. For example, gift cards and certificates are great gift ideas that won’t break the bank if you get a bit creative. It’s about your inventiveness in picking the right kind of gift certificate, not about the dollar amount on the card.
One such idea involves entertainment since many people have cut back by canceling premium television channels or outings to the movie theater. Netflix, a major online movie service, offers gift subscriptions that will provide your gift recipients with movies for months. Another present that anyone would appreciate is a gas gift card, which can alleviate the stress from watching the number rise at the pump.
You can also spread the warmth this holiday season by giving a coffee shop gift card since many have been sacrificing their morning lattes to save cash. However, if the number of people on your Christmas shopping list seems endless, gift certificates can rack up more expenses that you had hoped.
Save these gifts for your closest family and friends, and save some cash by tapping into your talents to create homemade presents for others on your list. Grab some yarn and knit a hat, scarf, or socks for your friends. If you’re a painter, poet, or musician, you can give a personalized piece of art as a thoughtful and inexpensive gift. Photo gifts are also great money savers. If you have a digital camera, you can take advantage of the merchandise on photo Web sites to make a photo calendar or a photo mug that you can fill with hot cocoa mix to make the gift even better.
If you have little kids on your shopping list, the perfect gift for them could be a letter from Santa himself! EZSantaLetters.com has personalized and pre-written Santa letters that are postmarked from the North Pole. Speaking of little kids, if you’re pressured into buying the inevitable school fundraiser items like gift wrap or cookie dough, make use of these purchases by giving them as gifts. An alternative to buying gifts for everyone is to organize a Secret Santa and reduce the number of gifts you need to give.
Hopefully, these holiday strategies will lessen the gloom and doom of the economic recession and make for a holly, jolly Christmas.
by Marie Reda
Robert Frost’s famous line “Nature’s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold” from “Nothing Gold Can Stay” is surprisingly accurate not only for the autumn season that is upon us, but also for the current economic state. It’s been hard parting with the green leaves in our wallets, and it will be even harder to hold onto when the holidays roll around. We should be more prudent about saving now, so we won’t feel too guilty as we hand over the green to the cashier later. No big lifestyle changes required.
One easy way to save some cash is to bring back the brown bag lunch a few days a week. You won’t just save money; by making your own lunch, you control exactly what and how much you’re eating. You can cut costs and calories at once by bringing a sandwich and a drink with you as you head out for the day. Along the same line, when you go grocery shopping, make sure you write a list ahead of time. This way, you’re less likely to succumb to impulse buying. Having a game plan before you get to the supermarket will lessen the time you spend strolling down the aisles, so you’re more likely to buy only what you came for.
You also can remove bottled water from your grocery list. Grab a re-usable bottle and invest in a water filter, which can save you money in the long run. If you shop at warehouse stores like Costco, buying in bulk can equal big savings at the cash register and the gas station since you’ll make less frequent trips to the store.
As an added bonus, you won’t need to use the ATM machine as often. Remember to be wary when using ATM machines since those withdrawal fees can add up. Most banks don’t waive fees for all ATM transactions, so only use ATM machines that your bank won’t charge a fee for. You could avoid this trouble by simply withdrawing directly at your bank.
If you work in the city, walking instead of taking the subway is a smart move and a great way to exercise without paying for a gym membership.
When you’re not at work and have some down-time, check out books and DVDs at the library instead of buying or renting them. And if you’ve been a bit loose with your spending in the past, use cash instead of a credit card when you buy.
Consumers who use cash when making purchases save 18 percent more than those who use credit cards since it’s harder to hand over your hard earned cash than it is to swipe your card and put it back in your wallet.
You also won’t go wild with your credit card if you remove your credit card numbers from your online accounts. If your card information is stored in an account, that makes it easier to click and buy without thinking of the cost. Get out of this habit by deleting your card information from the account so you’ll spend the time getting your card, punching in the numbers, and thinking about what you’re about to spend.
You probably know by now that cooking at home can save you money, but remember to treat yourself every once in a while. Check out Restaurant.com to get restaurant discounts and even deals on gift certificates!
These tips can help you see a little more green in the chilly autumn months, and you won’t stay warm by burning through all your cash. In the words of American humorist Evan Esar, “The mint makes it first, it is up to you to make it last.”
Dear President Obama,
If you accomplish only one thing during your term, let it be this: teach America how to read. I don’t mean, teach us how to give a cursory glance at a menu or scan the back of a cereal box. We are more than capable of living lives based upon marginal literacy. I mean, teach Americans how to love stories and words and how to truly examine the message a writer is trying to convey in any piece. Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of our nation has forgotten how delve into written sources and ask themselves insightful questions about what they read—if they even read anything beyond the microwave directions on the back of frozen TV dinners.
I know I sound snarky and even cynical but surely you, as an educated man, recognize the literacy crisis our country faces. According to a study conducted by the Jenkins group, a custom book publisher, millions of our fellow Americans never even read a single book after graduating from high school. The C.I.A. World Factbook may report the U.S. literacy rate as 99%, but their definition of literacy only requires the recognition of a few hundred words—not thousands and certainly not hundreds of thousands. To give you some perspective about how low of a threshold that literacy rate is, consider this: 171, 476 currently used words exist in The Second Edition Oxford Dictionary, with an additional 47,156 obsolete and 9, 500 derivative words—and the book certainly does not include all of the slang, jargon, compound, and foreign words English speakers use.
This is why it is crucial that you teach America to treasure books and revere libraries. Teach Americans that assigned reading is assigned for a reason. We as a nation must learn to read a wide variety of different forms and genres: creative non-fiction, novels, poetry, short stories, newspaper articles, ‘zines, newsletters, and more. We don’t have to agree with everything, or even most of everything that we read, but we should read as often as we have the time and energy to invest, if only to point out why we don’t agree with what we read. We need to spend less time in front of the television or fiddling with our iPods and more time with our noses buried in books and newspapers.
I don’t have to explain the merits of reading to you, but I will anyway for the sake of emphasis. Reading improves our comprehension of complex ideas, helps us define our personal opinions, exercises our imagination, develops our capacity for compassion, and ultimately molds us into more critical and emotionally attuned thinkers. In order to encourage readership and increase literacy in our country, I ask you to expand upon former First Lady Laura Bush’s notable tradition of promoting literacy. Please do your best to ensure that:
*Every school—both public and private—has its own library with a spectrum of age-appropriate material large enough for every student to check out a book on at least a weekly basis.
*More churches, homeless shelters, and other places of refuge have book and magazine collections.
*’Zine and other independent press festivals happen at least once annually in every state in America.
*All doctors’ offices and other waiting rooms contain a reading collection of some sort.
*Posters, billboards, and other ads promoting literacy appear prominently across the country.
*Every child, regardless of which school system they attend, has at least one current textbook that they can bring home to study every night.
*Story time is regularly scheduled at all public libraries.
*Even more bookmobiles tour the states.
*More elementary and middle schools employ a literacy specialist or reading tutor made available to any child who needs extra help reading at his or her grade level.
*Librarians and English/Literature teachers receive higher pay and more benefits.
But please do not limit yourself to these bulleted points. Anything you and your administration can brainstorm beyond these ideas would be greatly appreciated.
In the words of President Clinton, “Literacy is not a luxury, it is a right and a responsibility. If our world is to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century we must harness the energy and creativity of all our citizens.” I hope that your administration will cherish this sentiment as much as my fellow promoters of literacy and I do. I look forward to seeing what you will do.
by Janie Dumbleton
With the economy in a seemingly rough place, a new project spearheaded by small business entrepreneurs offers a plan to assist in keeping loved local shops, such as a favored flower shop or café down the road, in business for good. The 3/50 Project comes at us with the premise of “saving the brick and mortars our nation is built on,” in hopes of revolutionizing the stance of independent businesses in the current economy.
The basis of the project is to have every employed citizen spend at least $50 a month spread across three locally owned and operated businesses. According to the 3/50 Project Web site, if every employed person spent a simple $50 each month in a favorite independent shop, the outcome would be of monumental proportions and would potentially generate an estimated $42.6 billion in revenue. Such an impact begins with respecting local and independent stores and their owners.
The ripple effect of support for the project and its ideas flows from Cinda Baxter. Her idea grew and flourished into a project that promotes balance in order to preserve local economies. The Web site that helped Baxter start the project follows her personal efforts and career is Alwaysupward.com. The vision she was able to harness and produce comes alive in the innovative ideas that buttress the 3/50 Project.
The 3/50 Project’s Web site allows independently owned and operated businesses to register as part of the project. Additionally, there are opportunities for anyone and any business to lend support to the worthwhile cause. It also boasts the most poignant explanation of the project by encouraging people to “Pick 3. Spend 50. Save your local economy.”
While chain stores and franchises certainly work for many people’s retail and day-to-day needs, the 3/50 Project suggests that moderation and balance should be exercised when it comes to purchasing certain items. The idea is to pump money back into the local economy, allowing it to circulate throughout the town and not a larger, funneled corporation.
Participants in the 3/50 Project own independent businesses and wish to help their local economy, not just themselves. The small businesses involved are truly grateful for the innovative ideas of Baxter and the fruition of her project. Nearly every state has multiple businesses as participants, and a full list by state and town is available at The350project.net. As participants, the businesses listed are aware of and support the 3/50 Project; however, spending at all local businesses is encouraged, not limited to the participants listed.
The 3/50 Project comes at us at a time of economic turmoil when our local economies need healthy support. So, next time you pass the chocolate shop down the street, pop in to buy a few treats. The next gift for a birthday or baby shower? Consider picking one up at a quirky independent boutique and respect your local economy.
For more information, check out http://www.the350project.net.
by Sasha Sakhtah
Editor’s note: This opinion does not reflect the opinions of REALITY Check Girl Magazine as a whole and is solely the opinion of the writer.
If you felt afraid, repulsed, or just plain baffled by Lady Gaga’s performance of “Paparazzi” at the 2009 Video Music Awards, you are not alone. Her ‘bloody show,’ as some internet sites have so cleverly called it, is a great big bundle of political mucus – and on September 13 we got it all spewed up in our faces.
OK – so maybe I have a slender bone to pick with Lady Gaga, or maybe a fat, clunky bone, but the body politic behind her performance is far beyond the now rhinoplastic-tastic starlight. And for that reason, it’s worth unraveling this pop culture riddle in ways that we can stomach.
So just what can be made of this sanguine event? The Victorian-inspired fairytale backdrop, the macabre-themed surgical wardrobe, the blood that was so disturbing lapped up by the Lady herself, and of course, the mock-hanging at the finale, all danced to a song about some desperate fan planning to take his stalker fantasies to the next level – what could it possibly mean?
Here’s some fresh perspective: Lady Gaga’s performance does one heck of a job at perpetuating the deeply engrained, though seldom recognized ideology that women’s bodies are symbolic of defilement. It domesticates aggressive male behavior and is a nearly sickening explosion of sexuality puppeteered by patriarchal mentality. As a woman and feminist, that’s a huge no-no.
Let’s first highlight the obvious: Gaga’s performance is gushing with visible contrasts. Diverse colors and lighting, the mix of gender, the mingling of traditional and modern scenery – it all reflects a dualistic pattern of thought relating to sex as dangerous and desirous. As the performance begins, we can think of it as developing on the same trajectory as womanly sexual experiences. Its start symbolizes sexual awakening in a disturbing manner, warning us of the potentially (or inevitably) deadly nature of sexual temptation. A mere glance at the performers’ outfits and this idea that our bodies – our very sexuality – threaten us becomes apparent. The pure white costumes smattered with pinkish-brown blood is not unlike Snow White and her gift of a handkerchief moistened by three drops of blood, as the early versions of the tale go. This gift, a haunting in disguise, taints with imminent doom the maiden’s future travels.
According to Bruno Bettelheim, a premier scholar on the psychoanalysis of fairytales, the red-on-white color scheme symbolizes a disruption of virginity by the menarche, which, with its inception, causes misfortune to young girls. Using identical images, Lady Gaga presents sexual awakening in a crude and alarming way – not to mention the fact that ultimately, female sexuality in Gagaland causes death.
But Gaga’s blood boiling, vessel popping escapade goes even deeper than this, for not only does it trivialize womanhood on a personal level, but its erotic charge further arouses us to conceptualize sexual intercourse as dangerous. It is one thing to think of the dangers of sex in the abstract, though it is made obvious by Gaga’s use of crutches, wheelchairs, and medics. Let’s not forget that sex itself is a very REAL mess of political mayhem. Gaga is clearly making a statement about how women’s powerlessness over their bodies makes them susceptible to sexual violence. The first thing that came to mind after watching the performance’s bloody climax (pun intended), in which the pop star collapsed and was then rushed by a volley of muscle men? Rape. Even her song “Paparazzi” eludes to this sexual drama by defining Lady Gaga as particularly rape-prone to fanatical stalkers (frequent rape offenders), thanks to her super-star status. Her performance, crystallizing female weakness through mock rape, is particularly traumatic because it’s lasting impression it one of fear, depression, guilt, anxiety, and sexual problems.
So, still think Gaga’s show is a harmless gore-thriller? Well, think again, for my analysis hasn’t run dry just yet. Believe it or not, Frued’s idea of sex as danger and nature continues to be made manifest vis-à-vis Lady Gaga’s performance. The frequent “bloody show” pun used to characterize her performance skews conceptions of pregnancy as the grotesque ‘other,’ typecasting it as a foreign force that must be isolated and restricted, if not removed altogether. Furthermore, the show ends with a ghoulish ‘hanging,’ Lady Gaga’s stone faced, dead corpse thusly serving as the supreme display of women as lifeless cadavers whose death is self inflicted.
It’ll be some time before Gaga’s listless face gets vaporized from my mind.
In the meantime, I’m curious to know how other viewers are responding to this cultural conundrum. Could it be that Lady Gaga is liberating women by exclaiming their darkest sexual ‘secrets’ (i.e. menstruation, intercourse, child birth) in perhaps the most confident, secure, and free way possible? (Sure, as a feminist, all this is a big no-no, so why do I find it so darn captivating?) No doubt, Gaga understands how the female body is linked up to complex cultural ideologies. It’s through her manipulation of her own body that she is able to cause such a stir. But is she working towards an acceptance of female bodies, or is her performance just a downright bloody mess?
By Elizabeth Marquardt
How many times this year have you turned on the TV or radio or glanced at a newspaper or internet headline to be confronted with bad news about the economy? It’s almost impossible to avoid hearing about continued job losses, low revenues and profits, and tightened spending (I’ll admit it, I’ve tried).
Now for a more personal question: How much of those media reports about the economy do you understand?
You probably know that the United States is currently in a recession, but does that mean anything to you beyond “bad news”? How did we get into this recession? And, more importantly, how do we get out?
Specific answers to these questions are hard to pin down, even for economists. Mike Moffatt on About.com admits that even though there is a “standard” definition of what recession is, many economists disagree with it. “If you asked 100 different economists to define the term ‘recession’… you would get at least 100 different answers,” he says.
Officially, a recession occurs when gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate falls for two or more consecutive quarters. GDP is the total value of all the goods and services produced in a country in a year. In other words, it’s the cost of everything that is made and all the services that are purchased within the United States, from cars and washing machines to haircuts and rock concerts, all added together into one number.
The GDP growth rate measures how much GDP has changed since the last time it was calculated. In the United States, GDP actually increased in 2008, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. When you hear that the growth rate is lower than it used to be, or that it’s falling, that doesn’t mean that GDP is necessarily shrinking or that the growth rate is negative (although that can happen). It just means that GDP isn’t increasing as quickly as it was before.
Think about it this way: my brother grew about three inches when he was in ninth grade. In tenth grade, he only grew an inch and a half. If he was an economy then his sophomore year of high school would have been a recession, because even though he grew, he didn’t grow as much as he had in his freshman year.
Is it really such a big deal if the economy just isn’t growing as fast as it used to? While it would certainly be worse if it stopped growing or experienced negative growth (a decrease in GDP), even a slowdown can cause drastic results, such as those we have seen in the past year or so.
One of the chief reasons for these detrimental consequences is that the forces moving the economy are largely psychological. If something happens to make the economy slow down, like people defaulting on their mortages, people see it and tend to react in a way that makes it worse.
For example, if a small business owner sees that the economy is not growing as fast as it used to be, she might be afraid that it will get worse and she won’t be able to afford to pay another employee, so she won’t hire one. Not only does this make it harder for her business to grow and succeed, it’s also one less job that someone could have.
Or, if a bank that makes loans to people who want to buy a house sees that a lot of people have not been able to repay their loans, they might start making fewer loans and making those loans more expensive, with higher interest rates. This means that people either can’t afford to buy a house (bad news for people who build houses) or they have to spend more of their money on the house and less on other things like clothes and cars and vacations. Suddenly the clothing, automobile, and tourist industries have fewer customers and less money, so they can’t afford to pay as many workers and unemployment goes up. People who are unemployed obviously have to spend less, because they aren’t earning money to spend.
So when the economy gets stuck in such a vicious cycle where fear leads to less spending that leads to less money for businesses that leads to unemployment that leads to even less spending, what can we do to turn it around? The government has two main options: fiscal policy, which comes from laws drafted by Congress and signed by the President, and monetary policy, which is controlled by the Federal Reserve.
Both types of policy, however, aim to increase confidence in the economy. If the government can convince us that the financial system is stable, then the people will consider investments to be potentially profitable, and they will invest. Businesses can hire more workers if they can count on more money from investors. Consumers are willing to spend more if they don’t think they are in danger of loosing their jobs, because they aren’t afraid that their source of income will suddenly be cut off.
When enough confidence has been restored to tip the balance toward the positive, requiring time and considerable effort from the government, slowly the cycle will reverse and the economy will start to climb out of the recession.
By Katie Prisco-Buxbaum
As the Obama Administration reaches the end of the “Honeymoon” period, the American public seems to doubt the amount of progress regarding the big budget issues. No one predicted that Obama would have an easy time taking office, but people are growing impatient with the apparent political standstill.
According to the Diageo/Hotline poll, 24 percent of people are not confident in this administration bringing about “real change” in reference to the way issues are handled by the federal government, though 24 percent also reported having full confidence in this administration. The fragile state of the economy, a battle for healthcare reform and a great deal of controversy have caused Obama supporters to lose faith in the power of this administration to deliver their campaign slogan: change.
According to GFK Roper Public Affairs & Media (AP-GFK), the approval rating of President Obama’s use of the federal budget dropped ten points in three months, leading there to be a mere 39 percent approval rating. As the recession drives on and the federal budget deficit remains, people grow concerned about when economic relief and the end to the recession will come.
The New York Times analyzed their poll, finding an indiscretion between Obama’s overall standing and the view of his key initiatives, with fewer than half of Americans reporting that they approve of his actions regarding healthcare and his efforts to save General Motors and Chrysler.
According to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, Obama’s stance on the Gates arrest and the comments he made have led to a decrease in ratings. This decline highlights the racial tension that the White House faces. Pew also reports that the president’s overall job approval fell from 61 percent in mid-June to 54 percent currently.
The adversity that the Obama administration faces is causing supporters to feel helpless in a time where cooperation is needed.
Despite this drop in ratings, Forbes magazine foresees an end to the recession by May 2009. Obama continues to push for healthcare reform which he believes will increase the American standard of living. He remains confident in his actions involving recent controversies.