Growth5 Blog

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

No Safe Place on the Battlefield

Safety and security, sociologists tell us, are some of the most basic of all needs. Yet one of the great lessons of massive economic downturns is that there is no safe place on the battlefield.

We are descended from hearty stock. Our ancestors were subject to disease, hunger, cold, marauding tribes, predatory animals, capricious royalty, and a medical establishment that believed in leeches. While our forebears hunted the bears, the bears hunted them.

So when the 401K statement arrives in the mail, the most primitive parts of our brains cannot tell the difference between the decreasing balance and a saber tooth tiger attack. At some level, we feel mind-numbing terror. Poverty is staring us in the face. We will never be able to retire. We will be reduced to eating dog food and begging on street corners.

Instinct -- and the fear that comes with it -- does not serve us well. That's because there is no absolute safety, no, not even Treasury Bills.

Our ancestors knew what to do. Did they sit cowering in their caves waiting for woolly mammoth tusk futures to turn? Did they stand idly by waiting for the king to guarantee the grain harvest? Did they stand on the docks waiting for clearer weather before boarding the next ship to the New World?

Nope. We are where we are today because a lot of folks higher up our family trees decided to do something positive to make their lives better. What did they know that we've forgotten?

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