Friday, November 7, 2008

The economic ills

So, as I've said jury duty is a big sociology experiment. It is a window into many different ways of looking at things. Our jury was economically mixed- successful people, those out of work, those scraping to get by. Every day a number of the jurors sat in our little jury room and complained about the financial impact of being on the jury, and the pittance that you are paid to be on a jury- $15/day. They complained about the price of food around the court house. How it was costing more money than that generous stipend etc. Yet still every day, I was the only one who brought my food. I brought two or three snacks and lunch every day.  I would spend my lunch hour happily eating lunch, reading my book and relaxing by the fountain that I used to  walk to lo those many years ago when I worked for an LA law firm in the LA Law building.  My point is not my trip down memory lane, but that I was the only one who didn't buy my lunch and breakfast and Starbucks coffee every day. I was getting my usual salary, yet I brought my food. I listened to all of these people bemoan the economy, yet they paid $10 or more for lunch every day. It is small thing, but the ills of our economy are based on this kind of action. People spend beyond their means, and then want to bailed out. These people wanted a bigger jury stipend, but wouldn't do simple things like decrease their expenses. There are countless examples of this kind of overspending, and more taxes and more big Wall St bailouts aren't going to change this simple problem.

 My friend's sister who is a very talented economic journalist wrote an Op-Ed piece for the NY Times a few weeks ago about this theme, and how the blame for the financial crisis lies in both Wall St and Main St because of overspending and over-borrowing, and then she got hate mail. People don't want to see or be told that there are in part to blame.  I hope that people can grow to see the need for renewed personal responsibility, but the climate seems to be going the other way. That makes me sad.

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