Looking on the economy's bright side

Andrew Velnosky
Staff Reporter

If your parents are at all like mine, you have probably heard the same story anytime you visit or call home: “The stock market sucks, we are losing tons of money!” Indeed, as I write this article, CNN.com is showing the Dow is down almost 60 points again after finishing below 8000. But while there are plenty of numbers to crunch and people to hear freak out, it is important to remember how the economy is actually affecting people our age. In my opinion, there are some bright spots that we may be overlooking.For most people that I know, the recent downturn in the economy has not caused them to lose untold thousands in the stock market. Most people my age, myself included, did not have large amounts of money invested in the first place. Anything that was invested is either now already spent on college, or in safer types of accounts waiting to be spent on college. The main area where the poor economy can affect college students is in jobs and loans. With respect to loans, I cannot offer much comfort. The loan market is bad for just about everyone right now, but colleges understand this and will hopefully do all they can to help people who are struggling.

As for jobs, those of us still in school probably do not have too much to worry about. We mostly occupy jobs that will always be around (people will always have to go to the grocery store and will probably never stop dining in low-priced restaurants). Most of us do not have to support a family and can still get help from mom and dad if we really need it. For students about to graduate however, the picture may not be as cheerful, depending on what field they intend to go into. However, McDaniel’s career services seems to still be going as strong as ever with job fairs, resume workshops and general advice to those preparing to enter the working world.

While the selling continues on Wall Street, it is important to remember the old law of supply and demand. As retailers have less buyer interest, they will be inclined to sell at a lower price. As for me, if I am feeling bad about the stock market, I can immediately cheer myself by driving along Route 140 and seeing all the gas stations with prices now under $2 per gallon. Being college students means we are the little guy in the economic world. We don’t spend that much and we don’t earn that much. Whenever the economy is good, it seems like the little guy gets burned on high prices and living costs. So maybe when the economy is bad, the little guy can get a break. After all, college and cheap stuff have gone hand in hand for years.

Finally, while many people seem focused on the economy, it is important for us to remember that money is not everything. While many economists predict the worst holiday spending in years this year, perhaps it is worth noting that the holidays are about more than spending or making money. As the holidays approach and the economy remains bad, it is time to actually put into practice what the cheesy Christmas stories tell us every year. Maybe by being forced to be thrifty this Christmas, people will finally learn that our dependence on stuff is out of control. If that happens, if the bad economy can bring people together, perhaps we will look back on this year fondly. Maybe we will remember it not as the year when we lacked something that we wanted, but as the year that we found something we may not have realized we lost.