Lessons From The Great Recession: Will We Learn Them?

Nor' east Thinkin'

Will we learn enough from the Great Recession or Great Reality Check (our most recent mistakes) to avoid repeating them for at least one generation?

Published on: January 18, 2012

Will we learn enough from the Great Recession to avoid repeating them for at least one generation? I’m hoping this blog rates as a “foot-in-mouth” award winner. But we humans have never been very good learners of history – even recent history!

Each generation somehow grows into believing that the old fogies of the previous generation made stupid mistakes that today’s enlightened generation wouldn’t dream of making. And so goes the tripping over one’s own feet.

A few years back, my wife and I commiserated over why the things that people “had to have” were getting bigger and more expensive – homes, cars, smart phones, electronic devices up the kazoo plus the debts tied to them. Meanwhile, the ability to pay for all those “necessities” was getting skimpier and skimpier – at least for singles and families not earning six-figure incomes.

The answer was simple: Immediate gratification won the salesmanship award over wise financial decision-making.

Something had to change. America’s habit trend was unsustainable. And it did change. That’s why we’re still struggling with the Great Recession or what I call the Great Reality Check.

Our politicized financial experts contend the Great Recession was over in 2009. But you’d never know that outside of Washington, D.C.

Will we ever get smarter?

When I was young(er) and (more) naïve, I believed that mankind was evolving into a being with greater intelligence. Yet, the more I studied history, the more I realized it was naïve. Civilization has had great minds and highly intelligent leaders for thousands of years. All fell prey to their foibles (frailties of their character).

That’s what America is wrestling with right now! We have leaders who believe spending more money after bad will fix the problem. So far, they (Democrats and Republicans) have been horrid role models for fiscal accountability and personal responsibility.

Lesson 1: We are no smarter than those who came before us.

Lesson 2: We’re actually not as smart as those who came before us if we fail to learn from their mistakes.

Lesson 3: History is the greatest teacher of mankind, if only we would pay attention.

Lesson 4: Societies as a whole have never received the privilege of a “do-over.” Only in America would such a miracle be possible – for individuals, even businesses. But for industries and government, it poses great angst for those without vision, strong character and divine leadership.

Lesson 5: Never accept financial advice from one who’s trying to sell you something. Sounds like lame-brained advice. But it’s why millions of houses and vehicles have been bought, then repo’d since Great Recession began. Even farms were sold with that intent.

Lesson 6: This one would well-serve us all. Learn to be satisfied with less than you’d like to live on. Today’s frugality boosts future dividends.

If you’ve learned these lessons, great! You’re six steps ahead of most Americans. Now, how will you “plant” them in your next generation?

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