Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Go out and play

So, you didn't invest with Bernie Madoff, so you've only lost a quarter or a third of your investments—or maybe the same percentage of your net worth—like every other investor.

You're not a CEO of a troubled major financial company whose woolly accounting and personal retention bonus are about to get sheared by new Wrangler--in-Chief Barack Obama.

You've got income, your house isn't in foreclosure, the car payments aren't killing you and you're saving money.

Even so, the national economic news that has talking heads and editorial writers repeating the words "dire," "catastrophic" and "devastating" are driving you to seriously consider hiding under the bed—where you're stashing the beginnings of the three-year-old's college fund.—until it's all over.

Don't go there.

There's only one solution to the stress that has spread across the nation like a nasty flu epidemic and left the vast majority of perfectly sensible and financially fit people shaking like the dog's favorite chew toy when Fido is on a tear.

Go out and play.

The stock market dropped, but the mountains didn't. They're still standing tall here in Central Idaho—full of snow and sunny days that are great for skiing, boarding, snowshoeing and sledding. This spring the same mountains will be transformed into a Mecca for hikers and bikers.

Some major investment companies ran dry, but Idaho's lakes and rivers didn't This spring and summer they'll be prime for fishers, rafters and kayakers.

The first government bailout may have missed the mark, but golf courses and the Sun Valley Gun Club will be open so ordinary people can improve their skills at hitting the target.

Credible research has piled up in recent years that shows that stress harms people both physically and mentally. It makes our bodies more susceptible to everything from heart attacks to cancer and makes us less mentally nimble and less able to cope as the result of depression.

Hiding under the bed won't do a thing to improve the economy—it will only make it worse. Staying indoors, turning off the heat, eating mac and cheese, and wearing a hair shirt won't improve anyone's state of mind either.

Vacations cost money, but they're cheaper than therapy and anti-depressants. Those who think it's time to save all their money for the "long run" need to remember the great economist John Maynard Keynes, who said, "Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead."

It's time to crawl out from under the bed and go out and play.

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