Economic anxiety

Posted: Sunday, January 12, 2003

President Bush, gearing for reelection, is urging Congress to pass his new tax cut plan. The center of his plan, a corporate dividend tax elimination, he argues, will boost the American economy by stimulating the investor class, and create new jobs. The plan is not wise, from what we learn in today's economic recession, I believe, that by unreasonably boosting the investor class, we risk more and more of our before-diverse economy onto Wall Street. We make ourselves more vulnerable to the whims of the boom and bust, bear and bull market, in a time where the American economy already depends on the Street at an historically high level. Just as much as it can create jobs, it can take them away as we see in today's recession, and it will thus increase anxiety in an already anxious America. I believe it's extremely agitating to live in a constant cycle of unsustainable bubbles and dark recessions.

But what's life beyond the market? What's life beyond "quick growth, acceleration, productivity, productivity, productivity?" I believe that right here, in Juneau and Southeast, we must try new things to steady the economy, and steady ourselves.

Here's a social-economic experiment: Why not look at altering some of our economic benchmarks, such as high school and college? My proposal would be to encourage high school juniors and seniors to take a second look at their learning, public education, and take a year off before deciding to go straight to college.

After graduating high school in 2000, after constant pressure to sign up for college, and basically living in fear and anxiety and lack of learning, I decided finally not to go straight to college. I took some time off. It was difficult, all my friends going off, and me basically sticking behind and becoming a "bum" in Juneau. The impression my friends gave was that somehow I was dropping off the face of the Earth. "What are you doing", I was always conspicuously asked.

But I felt I needed something that the economic system (that passes for "education") was not offering me support to live how I choose, learning at my own pace, and living in quiet patience. Since 2000, I've accomplished a few things, and learned a few things, but I consider my greatest accomplishment my ability to live a day in joy and quiet, not agitation and anxiety. I did not get support in the system of over-trifled, over-busied, and over-stimulated American economy and culture.

The path to stability, in our personal lives and economy, I believe will require slowing down and thinking things over. So, take some time off, we're not economic drones.

Ishmael C. Hope

Juneau



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