Remember, stupid is as stupid does


“Our people are suffering. They’re not suffering so much from the reality of a down economy. The media has pounded hopelessness into them to the point that they are starting to believe that hopelessness is the act of the day. Our people are suffering not because of the economy, they’re struggling with hopelessness.” —Dave Ramsey

Don’t you love Forrest Gump and his mamma? I know that movie is old and has little relevance anymore. But it’s a classic. He’s a classic. A socially inept, underestimated and naive version of what we all wish we were.

I don’t know about you, but I’d give up a few things to be a shrimp boat captain for awhile.

Forrest met a handful of presidents, single-handedly saved his platoon in Vietnam and spoke to a standing ovation at the Wash­ington Monument. And let’s not forget, he got the girl and wound up with a nice stash of cash for him and his buddy’s family.

This is the American dream, as it should be. He worked hard without hesitation and because that was the reward in itself, it never occurred to him that he was “lucky.”

I don’t particularly follow politics. My brain’s not built for it. The Forrest Gump reference is as much of a connection that I can intelligently make. And that connection may not be the clearest.

Once in awhile I will read a couple headlines and a few paragraphs about what the news sites say is going on in the world, mainly to see if those journalists jump right into the doom or ease in with some dry humor or sarcasm.

This weekend’s headlines have been all about the financial downgrade assigned to the U.S. by the S&P, which I now know thanks to Google, is a big deal in financial market intelligence circles. (Impressive!) The United States is now slumming it with an AA rating, down from the stellar AAA.

My three favorite news lines today, all from the same website coverage mind you, were: (A) “A credit rating is an informed opinion. Nothing more. Nothing less;” (B) “S&P cited dysfunctional policymaking in Wash­ington as a factor in the downgrade” and (C) “Double A will become the new triple A.”

So what does the average American struggling with their own little pie slice believe? It appears to depend on which news story they read.

I settled on “C.” I like the positive spin. It’s a little like “40 is the new 20,” and I am really digging that concept. So, yes, C it is for me.

Dave Ramsey would approve of my take, I think. I just listened to his presentation on The Great Recovery. This is a grass-roots Christian-based movement to fix the “economy,” based on a couple simple concepts. One, taking responsibility for ourselves instead of waiting on an e-mail from the government letting us know all’s well, and two, following biblical principles to money management.

People are the economy, he reminded. And “it just depends on who you ask as to where the economy is. Cause each person measures it like they measure unemployment. It turns out unemployment is either zero or one hundred percent, just depending on who you ask…what’s happening is even those who’s economy is OK, those who have money and who have jobs, they’re scared because they’ve been told over and over and over how bad it is.”

The alternative to this doomsday view is financial peace. One person at a time, giving, saving, fixing their own situation if it needs it, creating and following a plan based on fundamental steps.

I spent 50 minutes watching that video and 45 minutes browsing news stories on the S&P’s rating change and the debt ceiling. After all that, nothing about my own financial situation changed, but the feelings I got from them both—the ones that will carry me into tomorrow and my next paycheck—were drastically different.

I prefer hope. Not so big on the clouds of hysteria and financial doom. I get the feeling that the further away I stay from government “fixes,” the better off I will be. And peace, given the chance, can trickle out just as quickly as hysteria.

Even in the middle of all the big-picture financial chaos, we still have the power to choose who will guide our personal choices. I’ve made my share of financial mistakes in the past. And when it’s time for us to set it straight, one man’s words rise to the top. And it’s not a financial guru from S&P.

Stupid is as stupid does.


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