Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Instant Gratification and the Economy

Sadly, I can't think of much to say in encouragement regarding the current global financial crisis -- not because the financial situation is so dire, but because I don't expect governments to do the right thing to fix it. Likewise, I don't expect the people do demand the right thing of their politicians.

We all want instant gratification in everything we do. Far too often, we seek that gratification without considering the long-term consequences. That applies to eating an extra serving of ice cream (short-term gratification) and adding another 1/4 pound of never-to-be-lost weight. It applies to using the ol' credit card to buy that ice cream to add to the never-to-be-paid-off debt. It applies to banks lending money to people who cannot or will not pay it back and calling that loan an asset which is then sold to some investor. It applies to that investor (gambler) who knows that since the risk is higher, the potential for return might be higher. It applies to labor unions that make demands on employers that jeopardize the very survival of the employer. It applies to individuals and businesses that declare bankruptcy to shed some debt, but never change the behavior that got them into financial trouble. It applies to politicians who pass legislation designed primarily to satisfy everyone's desire for instant gratification while building government power over our lives.

Whether at the individual, corporate, or government level, our natural desire for instant gratification drives the way we make our decisions. That desire for gratification can be a positive motivation for growth and prosperity -- if tempered with good judgment.

Until we learn to control our desire for instant gratification, I don't see a way out of the mess we are in. However, I believe that those who have followed the instructions of the prophets (get out of debt, get an education, store some food, pay tithing, keep your family strong, etc.) will generally do fine.

I believe D&C 130:20-21 applies to everything in life, including the global financial crisis and our individual ability to survive it (and many businesses and even some banks as well): "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated. And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated."

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