The outlook is not good

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

Hate to bring you down this morning, so if you’re not up for it, you might want to click off somewhere now. We’ll wait …

…Though I try my best to overcome it, I’m a bit of a pessimist. I come by it honestly. My mother, who grew up poor in the Great Depression (they were poor before it and after it), does not have the brightest outlook on the world. She expects the worst and basically taught all of us kids to expect to have to work like dogs until we die and to never have anything to show for it. Her favorite expression was that none of us “would ever have a pot to %$#$ in.” Other than that, it was a wonderful childhood.

Love you to death, Mom, but you can be a bit of downer at times.


Email newsletter signup

I’ve carried that pessimistic baggage around with me for nearly 45 years now. I have been convinced, for instance, that our economy has been headed for the toilet. For two or three years I’ve been scared that runaway deficits fueled by increasingly lower taxes and higher spending, ballooning trade deficits and the off-shoring of most decent jobs, were moving the U.S. toward Third World economic status, that the dollar was going to tank and virtual economic chaos would reign. Mercifully, I’ve had no visions of locusts or pestilence.

It’s an expectation I’m glad has not come to pass. At least not yet.

I attended a meeting Wednesday of a charity with which I’m involved. Despite the best efforts of the able organizers, it was not what I would call an upbeat meeting.

As is usually the case with charity boards, much of the discussion was focused on fund raising.

And let me tell you something, folks, there’s a lot of fear out there.

Surging gasoline prices, coupled with mostly stagnant earnings, interest only mortgage terms expiring and rising interest rates have people, and groups like mine, shaking in their boots.

The director of our organization told about approaching one normally generous contributor who told us not to expect much this year. Business is bad and employees are having to look for second jobs to be able to afford to put gas in their cars.

Talking among ourselves, we shared stories of having to cut back on various things and how kids don’t understand it and just think we’re being mean.

The director said on her morning walks it seems like every other house in her neighborhood is for sale n and for sale for a long time.

Driving out of my street this morning, I counted 9 for sale signs on the mile between my driveway and the highway. And they’ve been there for a while.

What I’m getting at here is that in a growing city like Suffolk, these are not good signs. As charitable resources are drying up, the community needs are not. They’re increasing.

If we can’t help folks, and by we I mean the people of Suffolk, they will have no place else to turn.

We’re entering the season soon when the major charities are starting their fund drives, groups like the United Way and the News-Herald’s Cheer Fund.

Between now and then there are likely to be major disasters, wars and hurricanes, in parts of the world and lots of people are likely to be asking you to contribute to their needs.

I know the temptation is great to send what you can when you see children suffering on your television, and there is nothing wrong with trying to help anyone who needs it, but before stroking that check, bear in mind that your money is needed here at home, too. Please try to hang on to some to share with your neighbors … and it might be a good idea to buy gold and stock up on food, water and ammunition.

OK, go out now and have a nice day.