Friday, March 6, 2009

Are knit ties far behind?

Every business article produced these days mentions something like “the lowest since 1982” or “worst since 1983.”

The last was from today, as it’s been announced that unemployment is its highest since 1983. I remember those days well. I had graduated high school the year before with no prospects for college, believing the chatter all around that I was "lucky to have a job.”

So I worked third shift in a supermarket, stocking cans of beans from midnight to 8. I should have felt lucky, but didn’t.

Point is, these days again folks are fortunate to have a job, and more fortunate to have a career in which they can grow. Those career paths still exist, even if their roads are showing potholes and detours.

It’s even true for journalism. This field and many others are going to change and demand different ways of thinking and acting from its remaining adherents. But most embattled industries aren’t going away.

The larger point is that as bad as the early ‘80s were, 2009 could be worse. Pop music isn’t as bad (remember “Safety Dance” and “Flashdance”? Don’t get me started.). Interest rates remain at rock-bottom. Squared knit ties (guys) and leg warmers (ladies) are as out as zoot suits.

Also gone from those days is a sense of the inevitable decline of America. We’ve been down this road before. Few today think that we’re consigned to the ash heap of history. Though we don’t know how long the current troubles will last, we have confidence they’ll bottom out and our rebound will begin.

Americans continue to show a resilience and optimism that as bad as things are, they’ll get better. Tough times come, but they also go.

Happy days (not the TV show, which was another 80s casualty) will be here again. Our country will be changed when the recovery comes, but perhaps not worse off.

Another relic of the 1980s might stay with us as we turn our eyes upward to the cross, source of hope in dark, uncertain times: “Keep hope alive. Keep hope alive.”

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