I have a 16-year-old son – with a driver’s permit. What do you think it takes for me to get in the car with him, just two months after his first driving lessons? I’d say it takes a leap of faith to entrust him not only with my car and my life, but with the thing I value most – his life.
It’s not so different, really, from the way I think about the titans of finance and government and their ability to drive the economy. It’s a leap of faith to entrust them with not only my fortune – but my son’s. And, given the bubbles we all live in that limit our perspectives, it’s a huge leap of faith. When I hear bailed-out bankers complain about being forced to live on half a million dollars, I do wonder if that leap is possible for me at all. I’m not sure they understand how little sympathy they’re getting outside of lower Manhattan.
Let’s face it, many of the titans are living in what I call pockets of prosperity, which might skew their perceptions of what needs to be done to manage this crisis.
If you were with me, my husband and some friends last night, you might, like us, be justifiably puzzled about the existence of this so-called “recession.” At the sushi restaurant, we waited half an hour for a table, despite having a reservation. The comedy club was full to capacity. But we live in one of those pockets of prosperity. For weeks now, every time we go out, we’re met with a crowd of spenders – the movies, the clubs, and the restaurants. There is no recession in our pocket of the world.
But that’s a dangerous perception that can lead to even more dangerous assumptions. There is a recession in other, less prosperous, pockets.
We can only hope that the titans have good communications pros advising them, who can provide them with insight from disparate viewpoints – from the small towns in the West to the streets of south Florida to the suburbs of LA and NYC – that allow them to understand the crisis as it affects everyone.
Even my son is learning how to be a better driver by listening to different voices. His driver’s ed teacher explains road conditions using scenarios; the driving school instructor focuses on technique; my husband is a calming force in the passenger seat.
And then there’s me, working on that leap of faith, trying to find new ways to describe how to decelerate besides “BRAKE!”