Each day the news has more articles on how we are going to solve the current economic crisis. There are lists of new rules to be implemented as well as policies to be put in place by our well intentioned government that will supposedly stop the recession from continuing and prevent our world from falling into a downward spiral. All of the people making these rules are doing so believing in the power of rules and in their ability to create order out of chaos. This line of reasoning is extinct and needs to be revised as it doesn’t work anymore. Rules only make more chaos and limiting the behavior of economic institutions or individuals only makes for more unreasonable behavior and more feelings of mistrust. Think about it for a moment. We have created an economic climate where there is no safe place to save money. Even treasury bills are unsafe as we have no idea if the United States government will hold up under the tremendous strain our bailout package is going to cost. Many people have lost everything and many more will lose even more and yet we have speeches in Washington daily telling us not to worry and this economic free fall is under control due to these “new rules”. Our leaders are desperately trying to get us to “buy in” to their ideas and beliefs so we will live our lives the way we used to by shopping and spending and having confidence in the strength of our government as well as our economic system. This is not happening and it is not happening for good reasons. Rules never make anything better, they tend to alienate and isolate individuals and create a lack of cohesion in a culture rather than a feeling of safety. Safety is created through trust and the ability to rely on other individuals and on our own economic system. It’s quite similar to a marriage in which trust has been violated and one of the partners has lied and been unfaithful to the other. If the couple decides to stay together and try to work out the relationship, there must be an openness in their communication as well as trust. This trust does not happen immediately as once a lie has been told, it is hard to believe again in ones partner. The way to rebuild trust is to receive small truths over a period of time and be able to verify them. In other words, to ask where ones partner was when they are late in returning home and to receive an explanation that is verifiable. Unless the couple is able to go through the steps of this process with the expected falling back and going forward, the marriage may not survive and deepen from the experience.
In the case of our economy, it will take more than the recitation of new economic rules to create confidence among the people of the world. Interfering with an economic system is a debatable idea: allowing an economy to balance itself is not a popular tactic today yet it was once the only practice to live by. The first variable to be addressed is greed. This is such a big subject there is no way anyone could tackle it in one sitting. All of the countries in the world are watching the roulette wheel of our economy spin and hoping the red or the black will pay off for them. We are all standing around the roulette table placing wagers on our future and some are doing this without considering the amount of risk they are taking in their wager. It seems we give lip service to cooperation and consideration of our fellow nations but we have no trust of them nor do we trust our own ability to save our country from this looming depression. We continue to make rules which apply today but may not apply tomorrow.
We need to take baby steps towards confidence by setting policies that have been agreed on through consensus building rather than rules. I don’t see this happening in the world, in our country, in the condominium development where I live, nor in my own family. People believe that rules will create order but it seems to me the more rules we have the greater the chaos becomes as no one likes restraint which they have not had a hand in creating.