Wednesday, January 7, 2009


As the recession of 2008 rapidly becomes the depression of 2009 and the downside of massive layoffs and bankruptcies are in the news every day, we have been contemplating the upside of this depression. Our purpose is not to downplay the suffering that has been and will be felt as a result of the US economic collapse, but to acknowledge that this past decade of excess and out of sight economic growth also created a great deal of suffering. So here is our list of the upside of this economic depression.

1) The end of liar loans is rapidly reducing housing prices. If you our neighborhood in Hilo (zip code 96720), the prices are dropping sharply on an annualized basis. If it keeps dropping at these rates in a few years housing may yet again be affordable for police, firemen, and medical support people. Assuming that the county’s service and support infrastructure survives this depression, Hilo may once again provide affordable home ownership to all that work here. Not only that, but young people forced to move away due to astronomical housing prices may be able to return, adding more strength to the Hilo community.

2) The depression may end the illusion of credit being equivalent to money so that conservative spenders and savers finally get some respect. Instead of looking down on a family living in a small house - folks may finally make the distinction between a family housed in an ostentatious mansion via a multi-million dollar reverse mortgage versus a family living in a modest house or rental that they can afford.

3) Being unemployed for a long time may give many people a chance to contemplate the spiritual side of life and rediscover what is really important to them. We could end up with a culture focused on what unique skills and services people have to offer rather than how wealthy they are.

4) People and communities may actually begin to think about and care about things other than money. This depression may end our society’s drive to monetarize, depersonalize, and downsize the cost of everything. Having little or no money may allow people to experience the true value of fresh food, clean water, human services, and people’s generosity.

5) The depression of 2009 may create a new ethic that leads to the end of over consuming, overeating, overspending, overworking, and overtaxing our planet in every way.


larry said...

we can only pray that society finds a way to rid itself of what i call the "greed gene" and the "appearance lifestyle." ... now i had this same hope back in 1980 and again in 2002 but people's short term memory has led us right back to an economic bubble followed by a burst ...

society/business must also stop thinking in terms of 3 month periods of time and start looking 5 and 10 years down the road when making decisions about money.

Anonymous said...

My daughter watches the Hills on MTV. If you have never seen it, it is a much watch to see what kids are being set up to think about the world. I love to see her eyes light up when she sees that life is all about looks, cars, and clothes. No hard work involved. I allow her to watch it so I can then explain to her the reality of life and how hard work and community is what really makes people happy. How many parents out there are doing this? I don't think much are. I hope for a better future. I make my kids earn everything they get. How many parents are doing this? I know for a fact that in my circle of parents, those that are "well off" don't have the time or the patients to do this.

Victoria Hokulani said...

Wow! We are so on the same page. I am very excited to meet you one day!! We must do the frugal lunch date one day, "brown bag" it at Liliuokalani Gardens or something. Email me.
My hopes are exactly the same as yours but like "Anonymous" feels, we have a LOT of work to do when it comes to the images that constantly bombard us from MSM. Shows such as "The Hills" and "Real Housewives of OC" are huge impenetrable wall in front of our collective spirits. California is so in the forefront of everything that is wrong with our relationship with money. My biggest wish, much like yours, is that folks like ourselves, living within or below our means will be the new status symbols. Hardly a day goes by that I myself do not struggle with the state of my living conditions-small mortgage free house in dire need of a makeover. Why do I feel like such a loser when my true net worth maybe vastly more than some of these "Posers" who have massive debts? My true wealth is my clear conscious, and highly functioning creativity, not to mention sound sleep every night. I guess, I was never one that could even handle financial stress and have chosen a more humble austere path in life.
The upside of an economic depression can be a huge windfall for folks who avoided the wealth effect. We will wait and see if Hilo prices will come down, so far not enough. (A Foreclosed McMansion in Sunrise Ridge going for nearly $800K is still out of reach and is likely to simmer for many years. What a shame. Boohoohoo.)
A new show "Momma's Boy's" (a new twist on the Bachelor) has this bimbo clown vying for one the guys. She is 25 years old and has had numerous boob jobs and various plastic surgeries. She is $136K in cc debt. At least the show portrays her for what she is:massively stupid and phony! the intended guy's mom hates her enormously as she has raised her son to be averse to debt. At least its a beginning of a new positive status. We will get there, this is what the collective consciousness desperately wants, IMO.
Our spirits are starving from the debt load stress, the competition for image status, and this vacant toxic culture. The emotional devastation of Joblessness and poverty will cleanse our collective souls and transform this nation back to the qualities that once made us the envy of the world. Perhaps we will cleanse our spirits to a point where our imaginations and creativity can fluorish once again. How can anyone think with all facilities when bombarded by angry debt collector phone calls at all hours and piles of exponentially rising cc balances with 35% interest rates? It may take all year, just like it took for TPTB to call a recession, but by Dec. 2009 everyone will be facing the reality of "Yes, folks, we are in an Economic Depression and we have a long painful road to navigate". Obama maybe about "Change" but it may not look like the kind of change we were all thinking.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said. Exactly!

Anonymous said...

"Not only that, but young people forced to move away due to astronomical housing prices may be able to return, adding more strength to the Hilo community."

Amen to that!

Anonymous said...

If you are not "well Off", your children are your treasure. If you are "well off", your items are your treasure. This will never change. It is human nature. That is why no culture stays on top forever. Just like the tide, there is always change coming and those who struggle will be the next ones on top. And when they "make it", they will do the same. Some things just don't change and human nature is one of them. The good news is that those who are now struggling will do a better job then our generation. They will be a more "green" and "spiritual" people. We have hope in this.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, well-off to me: Sitting on my board looking out toward the horizon waiting for a swell to come in at Kuki'o bay early in the morning, and feeling the warmth of the sun as it begins to rise over the saddle

Oh wait, nevermind...can't really do that anymore because Goldie Hawn decided she wanted to build a mansion down and put up a security gate that doesn't open until 7 am. But hey, we're lucky she "gives" us public access at all right?

**snaps back to reality**

Anonymous said...

I like your response to me. You are right dude. That is being well-off. I wish more people would think like you. Could you imagine if we all loved just being in the moment and loving nature. Man, that would truly create a great community.

Anonymous said...

I used to live in San Diego, but moved to Hilo last year. I visited San Diego for the holidays. The city has changed. Drivers are more aggressive. People are more snappy and easily irritated.

I'm so happy to be going back to Hilo tomorrow! People have a mutual concern and appreciation for one-another in Hilo that I haven't felt since my arrival in San Diego.

Keahi Pelayo said...

Unbelievable negativity! A depression? Seriously, we are no where near a depression. One sure way to push us into one is for everyone to hunker down and start acting like we are in one. Read Ayn Rands "Atlas Shrugged" and hopefully a few people will come to the conclusion that we are our own saviors...not the government.

Jazzie Casas said...

I am doing some research and came across your article. It great having articles like yours out there for the public to view. I am a reverse mortgage specialist and there is a lot of wrongful information provided to seniors. One of the biggest misconceptions is that the senior will no longer own their home or they will owe more then the value of the home is worth and the heirs are left with a huge debt. Please let's provide the senior with the accurate information so they can make the best decision no matter what company they use.

home buyer

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