Quitters Wrinkle Faster

Posted by Kenneth & Cynth'ya / on 05/23/2010 / 0 Comments



by Dr. Beverly Merrill Kelley

(SpeedReedNews note: Remember, Circuit City and Linens 'n Things, as well as Sharper Image are now in ZamZuu...and that's a clue!) ...oh, and the pet centers in ZamZuu (1-800-PetMeds, PetSmart, etc) are paying back feline owners for "littering." Tell a cat owner about ZamZuu! Cash back for them, and commission to you!

 Published in the February 4, 2009 edition of the Ventura County (California) Star

“Have we given up?,” inquires Newsweek’s Daniel Gross in an article provocatively entitled, “The Quitter Economy.” Circuit City, Sharper Image, Linens ‘n Things and Mervyns, among others, have opted to liquidate---disperse final checks to employees, auction off inventory, and fly the coop---instead of undertaking the challenging, time-consuming work of modifying debt and restructuring finances. In fact, the most recent Wall Street Watch List includes 230 additional retailers who may be facing a comparable future.

This “it’s too hard; just quit” pattern has become quite familiar by now---starting with mortgagees, who, because of greed or ignorance, found themselves saddled with more debt than equity in the wake of a bursting housing bubble. Many simply mailed in the keys and never looked back.

Bankers, instead of trying to figure out a way to restructure loans, simply threw up their hands or threw in the towel. As a result, foreclosures skyrocketed by 79 percent in 2007 and escalated an additional 81 percent in 2008. The abandoned single-family home tally may well approach three million by the end of 2009.

“The reason we’re seeing liquidation rather than bankruptcy from so many retailers is because people are hopeless,” Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research told Newsweek. “We’re still looking at a very bad year in 2009 and probably most of 2010, so it’s very difficult to be optimistic about reorganizing and coming out of it stronger.”

No, optimism doesn’t come cheaply, but I am reminded of the words of Corrie Ten Bloom, the Christian who endured a series of prisons and concentration camps for sheltering Jews from the Nazis in Holland. “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow;” she observed, “It empties today of its strength.”

Despite the fact that on the job front, some financial analysts are predicting that up to three million jobs will disappear even if Congress approves President Obama’s $819 billion stimulus package in record time; despite the fact that it will take almost 13 months, based on the current sales rate, to eliminate the current backlog of unsold new homes and despite the fact that the dip in orders for durable goods---including big-ticket items such as automobiles and refrigerators---is piling up inventories at the highest level since 1992 when the government began keeping track, there are three reasons to take heart.

First, this economic crisis is doing what pastors, family therapists and marriage counselors previously failed to do—keep squabbling couples together. While, historically, divorce rates tend to mount during tough economic times, a recent nationwide survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is reporting a 37 percent decline in divorce cases. During this recession, husbands and wives are putting off splitting up because of the prohibitive financial cost of divorce, especially in light of stagnant salaries, plunging home values and growing unemployment.

Second, crime rates are falling. Nationwide, according to FBI statistics released in January, violent crime diminished 3.5 percent and property crime shrunk 2.5 percent. Right here in Ventura County, burglaries, vehicle thefts and rapes dropped in the four largest cities (Oxnard, Simi Valley, Ventura and Thousand Oaks). One of the major reasons for the drop-off here, according to local police, is that the public has effectively become a second set of eyes and ears for law enforcement by voluntarily observing and reporting crime right in their own neighborhoods.

Third, public libraries are making a comeback. Americans, who are as likely to check out a video, DVD, audiotape, paperback or magazine as a gilt-edged tome, are turning to their local libraries to meet the need for information as well as recreation. Cash-strapped families are taking advantage of children's reading programs or homework centers, the unemployed are profiting from free internet access for job searches or expertise in polishing resumes, and instead of buying pricey plane tickets and heading to exotic locales, library patrons are experiencing new vistas at the turn of a page in a well-written book.

“Age wrinkles the body,” General Douglas McArthur once said, “But quitting wrinkles the soul.” The last thing anybody needs, these days, is a wrinkled soul.


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