Some how over the past couple months I've gotten into the habit of of watching the stock market all day long. Sometime shortly after the market opens I open up Yahoo! Finance and start hitting refresh every so often.
I watch the price of oil change, I've watched Lehman Brothers, AIG, GM, Pacific Sunwear, Honda, Wachovia, Fidelity, Frontier Airlines, Circuit City, Starbucks, Washington Mutual, go up down, and in some cases no longer exist as companies. I've watched the 10 Year Bond and the effect of Chinese stimulus packages, American stimulus packages, the election, house/senate votes, and so forth.
We are living in crazy financial times.
People are loosing houses, jobs, they're going bankrupt, and they're scared.
I don't really know any industry that the is safe from the fears of the current economic situation. Even cities and states are struggling to pay the bills. Nationally and internationally politicians and leaders are attempting to work together out of necessity.
And I have ten billion thoughts inside my head about the situation.
My I have one thought I feel compelled to share...I suppose it's my two cents.
Maybe it's because of the 2008 presidential election, maybe it's because of the big events that the government has coordinated already this year including stimulus checks and emergency bailouts, but it seems to me that our eyes are on the government to solve the problem. We want the government to fix problems from health care to credit to job creation, and fast.
And yet, I've also been compelled to think that in our hearts and minds we know that solutions take time, and that there are people who need help now.
Conservatives in particular looked negatively upon the concept of "spreading the wealth" in this past election, and in reality, especially in that wording, I am negative to those general concepts as well. I am proud of our free market economy and see some of the decisions being made as a slippery slope to big government that is interfering largely in the private sectors in ways that might be hard to ease out of. But while I think it's wrong for the government to "spread the wealth" and spread populist ideology that creates class warfare, I do not think it is beneficial for us to hoard.
As my wife and I prepare to make some big financial decisions we're watching every penny. Yet...I am weary of the penny watching because it's a thin line between fiscal responsibility and hoarding.
A challenging biblical passage is the story of the widow with the two copper coins. Jesus tells a parable of rich people putting great sums of money in to the temple treasury while a poor widow gives all that she has, two small coins. Although the widow gave less, Jesus counts it as more saying "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."
I think our less-than-certain financial times offers an exceptional opportunity. Our current times of uncertainty gives us the opportunity to give more...maybe not necessarily quantitatively more, but maybe when we given now it's not just the scraps and left overs, but maybe now it means sacrifice.
I don't want to look to the government and ask them what it can give to me, I want to look around at the world and people around me and ask what can I give to others.