2009-03-06

Recovery

I remember being a teenager and reading the late Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series. This fantastic tale detailing the discovery of a science called Psychohistory, it's brilliant mathematical elegance, and its dire ramifications, caused my mind to wander along the philosophical ether of what-if and guided me to a life-long fondness of statistical demographics which in turn drew me into the world of GIS. Psycohistory was a fictional blend of statistical analysis on the actions of large populations over time being used to predict future actions with a degree of certainty. Lately, I've been reminded of that daydream with a prescient frequency.

It seems that everything we hear over any medium has to do with the recession and the anticipated recovery. We are constantly being bombarded by tales of companies closing, employees being laid off, people losing their homes, families being torn apart. But why?

Well, people watch the news and hear about the economic calamity around them. They then get worried for their own welfare. The logical thing to do when worried for your job and ability to provide for yourself and your family is to cut back on your spending and maximize your savings. This, writ large over a statistically significant population, causes a downfall in revenue for consumer goods sales, causing companies to take the logical corresponding action of checking their expenses including payroll. Layoffs ensue, it gets picked up by the news, the cycle continues.

The newsies are looking for something to fill their timeslots with, there's just not that much news of general interest to fill NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, CNN, and MSNBC, plus all the other outlets including radio, newspapers, podcasts, and websites. So, here we are, being pelted with the negativity in this self-fulfilling prophesy of despair. Something has to give.

President Obama and the rest of those Fine Individuals in Congress don't seem to get it either. They are the only ones with a bully-enough pulpit to turn this tide around. They could both put out a positive spin stating that we have "seen the bottom", and do it in a newsworthy enough fashion to get all the news outlets to repeat it in their quest for content and their now out-of-the-closet love affair with current Administration. But it hasn't happened yet, why is that? Who can benefit from a prolonged downward spiral or a delayed recovery. In every crisis, opportunity? I'd hate to think that, but it makes me really wonder about all the huge legislative missives being thrown around lately and whether "In the name of the Stimulus" will be the new cover-all mantra of the big-governmenty.

Now, I'm not being particularly partisan here, both sides do it equally. I can easily see some things passed "to prevent another 9/11" being no more than a power grab or an excuse to forward an old agenda too. The people in Congress are all career politicians after all, the true reticent statesman is an extinct breed. I sincerely hope that I'm wrong. But then we'd need an answer as to why the huge psychological aspect of this problem is not being tackled head-on.

I wish I could talk to Seldon about this.