Last night, April 23, I attended Dave Ramsey’s Town Hall for Hope. This event was a live simulcast attended by 1 million people in 6,000 host locations across the country, as well as being live-streamed over the Internet. He gave a very informative and humorous presentation and made a lot of very good points.
The reason for this event was to dispel the panic, and sometimes hysteria, that the media and the government have been instigating in the past several months, and to share facts concerning economic downturns of the past as well as the current situation in order to restore some hope for the future. For example, Dave stated that, despite claims in the media, this is not another Great Depression, or even the worst recession since the Depression. During the Depression, he stated that there was an 89% drop in the stock market, compared to the 50% + drop that we have seen recently. Unemployement was at 25% nationally during that time, while today it is at 8% nationally (unfortunately for Michigan, that figure is now over 13%). There were also people standing in bread lines during the Depression; that is not the case currently.
During the recession of the 70’s, there was an energy crisis, and inflation was double-digit. That is not the case at this time.
Some of the things Dave brought up during the course of the simulcast were that we have experienced unprecedented prosperity in the past 25-30 years, and we have seen an abuse of capitalism during that time. The foundation of capitalism is made up of three things: political freedom, economic freedom, and moral restraint, to quote Michael Novak. Moral restraint has definitely been lacking, with greed taking over not only on the corporate level, but in society in general, as people overextended themselves with credit in order to obtain more things. The government should not interfere with the marketplace, but let things work themselves out over time.
Dave believes that the housing market will be what leads this country out of the recession, in part due to the low interest rates on mortgages at this time. Creating more jobs is not what will revive the economy; job loss is a symptom of a slow economy, not the cause, and jobs will come back as the economy revives.
The stock market has been driven by fear and panic. We need to get a grip and look at the facts, and not let fear and panic drive us. We need to start taking personal responsibility again for our financial future.
Dave offered many suggestions on dealing with the feelings of fear and hopelessness so many are struggling with over the economic conditions. His three basic suggestions were:
1. Take action and get busy. Don’t sit around moping; figure out what you are good at and what you enjoy doing, and develop those abilities and talents. Take classes if necessary to improve your chances of finding employment in a new field. Keep a positive attitude.
2. Don’t participate in “loser talk.” Hang with positive people; don’t listen to everything the media or the government spouts.
3. Learn to give again, not just with your money, but with your time and abilities. Get your eyes off of yourself and see the needs of others.
Some other suggestions: Take control of your money; focus on building an emergency fund, get out of debt, and then focus on building your retirement fund. Don’t panic about making up for lost time. Slow and steady wins the race. You must have a long-term outlook regarding building up your retirement fund.
Do business with your local hometown bank or credit union. Stay away from the “big boys.” Smaller banks and credit unions are safer and in a better financial state, and you get personal service that you don’t when you are a customer at a larger institution.
There was also time given to the viewers to email, call in, or send in questions to Dave via Twitter and Facebook, and he took several questions before the simulcast ended.
All in all, I thought that the Town Hall for Hope was interesting and many good points were brought up.
There is also another simulcast being planned for September 19, 2009, during which Dave will present his Total Money Makeover material. Having read the book myself, I think that will be another worthwhile event to attend.
For more information on what was covered at the Town Hall for Hope, go to www.daveramsey.com. There are many more statistics, information on several economists whose views have shaped our economy over the years, and some interesting quotes to ponder as well.
In the end, Dave commented, “hope does not come from Washington; real hope comes from the nail-scarred hands.” Our ultimate hope rests in Jesus Christ, not in the government or our financial situation, because when these things fail us, He never will. May this truth give us all hope for the future, come what may.