I have a friend who writes an interesting blog about running a small business in Bend. My friend owns a book, comic, games, and card store in downtown that has survived for more than 27 years. The blog usually focuses on the challenges of making a small business work and the “Bend Bubble.” My friend correctly predicted the collapse of the real estate market several years ago by comparing it to the bubble in the sports trading card market in the 1980s. He’s a smart guy with some great insights about small business.
Interesting blogs attract loyal followers and contributors who sometimes stray beyond the bounds of good taste or good sense. Several folks who contribute to the Bend blog seem to delight in the current financial crisis and the misery to come. Some make bold predictions about what will happen in the years ahead, and one recently advised that people should enjoy their turkey this year because there may not be one in 2009.
I rarely make bold predictions anymore. Yesterday, I paid $1.75 for a gallon of gas that cost more than $4 as recently as September. I have no idea what I will be paying in January. I can guess that we will see more business closures and job reductions over the next year, but I also see new investment and job creation both locally and nationally. I will go out on a limb and say that 99 percent or more of Americans who can afford to purchase a turkey in 2008 will also be able to buy one in 2009.
Unemployment is not an abstract statistic to me, however. During the early 1980s, I lost jobs and made ends meet by babysitting for a few months. Managing a city is easy by comparison. I have a son who recently lost his job as a project manager for a construction company and is having a hard time finding something to support his family. Despite my concern for him, I know that unemployment can help people make positive changes in their lives. Unemployment motivated me to go to graduate school, where I received the training to become a city manager. The financial security I enjoy today can be traced to the decisions I made while I was unemployed. I’m sure I would not have recognized at the time the educational value of changing dirty diapers.
I wish everyone who reads this blog a very Happy Thanksgiving. Since my record at predicting the future is so poor, I won’t offer any assurances of good times to come. I believe that our obligation to ourselves and those around us is to make the best of whatever challenges we may face and turn them into opportunities.