Friday, 15 August 2008

My recession is like peanut butter, more smooth than crunchy!

recession cartoon

Sitting outside Neactain's, sipping my coffee and watching the world go by: it doesn't get much better than this. Happiness comes fleeting though, and as I open my newspaper I leave myself vulnerable to doom and gloom tales of the 'Credit Crunch'.
'Stuff that for a laugh!', think I, laying the paper back down on the table.
Standing opposite me, on the corner of Quay Street and Cross Street, two young people are standing motionless.
The bloke is wearing a sandwich board advertising the Bold Gallery, while the lass is holding a post with an arrow sign pointing to the Living Room pub.
I wonder how many people actually respond to those signs? Both the art gallery and the pub are successful businesses, and successful businesses don't waste money on pointless advertising, especially if times are so hard.
As a freelance writer who used to try to sell advertising space in the 1980's, I know only too well that when recession hits, the first cutbacks companies make are to their advertising budgets and their freelancers.
So how can these two local outfits afford to employ these inert adverts? Maybe they pay for themselves in spades, and then again, maybe times are really really hard, and these are the owners themselves, acting in pure desperation.
I think not. I think they are gainfully employed young things showing patience and endurance, oiling the wheels of enterprise in what looks to me like a pretty vibrant High Street economy.
Far be it from me to suggest that I am right while the combined experience and genius of the world's economists are wrong.
But if we're to believe what we're being swamped with by the media, the economic times they are a-changing. A hard rain's gonna fall. The boom is over and we're all going to have to tighten our belts, and all that phooey.
There's a very good reason why politicians and economists talk about the importance of 'consumer confidence'. They know that the entire premise of modern western capitalism is a confidence trick, and the whole shebang can come tumbling down as quickly as you can say 'Berings Bank.'
At some point we are informed by the combined forces of media and industry that times are good; that there's people out there getting stinking rich, and isn't it about time we applied for 56 different types of credit card?
Off we go like happy little shoppers, enjoying the fruits of this wondrous yet illusory boom with money we don't have, thereby keeping the cash pumping round the pyramid.
And never forget that it is a pyramid. Even though it might be illegal to construct and run pyramid selling scams, there can be no denying that the entire premise of capitalism is pyramidal. The only notion up for debate is whether the Thatcherite 'Drip-drip-drip' theory works, whereby the compassion of the rich allows a certain amount of affluence, social welfare and health se
rvices to seep down into our proletarian lives, or whether the rich bastards just sit on their piles and don't give a flying fahooley about us and our miserable existences.
Hmm, tricky one that.
After all, we all know that super rich would be the very first people we'd turn to for the price of a cup of tea, don't we?
Let go of that romantic notion that by investing in stocks and shares you are supporting the job security of those companies' workers.
Nah mate. These days economic players gamble with vast amounts of money that never physically existed. The markets are only about making a quick killing and moving on. Think millions of buffalo on the Great Plains of America, then see them all dead: that kind of thing.
Booms are a mug's game, unless you happen to be one of the five incredibly rich people who became yet more incredibly rich, by selling high whichever assets you bought low. To make that possible there has to have been a sustained period of 'consumer confidence', so that the Price Is Right to cash in your wad and disappear to Mauritius on your 200 foot yacht.
As soon the rich have cashed in their chips, word goes out that the good times are over, and whaddya know? The money oiling the machine has become laden with debt that nobody wholly owns, the machine gets hotter and hotter with inflation until it goes into meltdown, and then we get mass unemployment, and nobody wants to buy anything because we're not 'confident'.
Except that there are still sandwich boards on Quay Street, and six different newspapers on the streets of Galway every week, which hardly smacks of recession. Newspapers need advertising to survive, and as I said before, that's the first budget to go. Thankfully this Noble Rag is a proper newspaper, worth paying for because it's filled with more newsworthy words than products availiable to purchase.
I know, I know, I would say that, wouldn't I! But it's true: newspapers carry news, while freebies carry adverts, and as four of our weekly papers are freebies, I cannot see them all surviving a true recession.
Oh sorry, should I say 'Credit Crunch'? Can lickle diddums no longer face the word 'recession'? Some bloke on the radio was saying that 'Credit Crunch' sounds more like a Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavour than an economic crisis. Love it.
Personally, I couldn't care. I certainly don't wish hard times upon anyone, but there's the goings on in the world's economies, and then there's my own tiny existence. Round in Chazzaland, things are financially as tight as they could possibly be, but for the best of reasons.
After the madness and mayhem that has been my life for the last six months, I've put away enough for a holiday in September, and am now taking a few weeks out to write my fiction, break the back of the novel's final draft.
So I've been living on less than the dole, and am therefore unaffected by all talk of major economic downturn. Sure, living thus requires a certain discipline, but I am simply happy to be doing something that makes sense to me, (only time will tell if it does the same for others!) and suggest that rather than buying into the idea of economic disaster, you do something that's free and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Keep it clean people, please.
Ooh, okay then, don't.

No comments: