Friday, April 30, 2010

The New Normal

In recent weeks news stories and interviews have come out with speculation about what will follow after the Great Recession that began about 2007. Economists are pretty sure that gross products have risen in the last few quarters, so technically, there is no more recession. But home foreclosures are still at record numbers, as seen in every newspaper. Many workers without jobs remain jobless for a year and longer. Businesses struggle to find customers and hang onto employees.

In these tough times I get more than a little upset when pundits and politicians profess to know everything that should have been done differently, and now have the answers to all of our problems. Just read their columns, watch their shows, vote their way, and all will get better. Right!

Enter the phrase "The New Normal." This expression describes how some of these forecasters expect things will turn out - when we are recovered from this economic collapse. Many people, the idea goes, are going to scale back on their expectations of living large. Spending of discretionary money will slow down. Folks will remember about saving for a rainy day, instead of relying on credit to supply whatever they want when they want it. They will do their diligence before making large purchases and investments.

Interest in healthier lifestyles and preventive medicine will grow, as the consequences of harmful habits and lost healthcare coverage begin to sink in. Maybe this is a lot of wishful thinking, but why not indulge in it for just a while longer?


I was asked to give a luncheon talk about the "Waters of Aitkin County" not long ago, and it occurred to me how much can change when a harmful species invades a region. No, I wasn’t thinking about Eurasian Water Milfoil or Zebra Mussels, or even Curley Leaf Pondweed. It was the European Settlement from the early 1800s to the present time. Homo Sapiens from the "Old Countries."

Native Americans had lived light on the land around here for ages. And our waters were pristine. Without chainsaws and bulldozers, the shorelands were natural and the lakes were healthy. So I read the audience a short list of "Best Shoreline Practices" and suggested that this list could help us towards a "New Normal" in which we will all live better.

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