Stocks are down. Unemployment is up. The debt crisis looms large and our financial markets are flagging. Moreover the profound lack of consumer confidence promises a double dip recession as our policymakers and leadership struggle to figure out how to keep the lights on without pissing off voters. Gotta get them votes!
We can point to bullheaded Republicans tactics on the hill as my good friend Stuart Tracte did this week while hosting his always fun show Beer Diplomacy TV with myself and URDB (now Recordsetter) CEO Dan Rollman on as guests. We can cast aspersions upon the spotty and recently uninspired leadership of BHO. We can look backwards to the unbelievably irresponsible fiscal decisions made during the Bush administration that contributed to the largest deficit the world has ever seen. But I’d rather talk about you. And me. And We.
Our salvation will not begin in the West Wing or on either side of the aisle of the Senate. It will begin with us. It will begin with the citizens of the United States demonstrating to our leadership that we are willing committed and able to begin to save ourselves. How? Through collaboration, ingenuity, compassion, experimentation and dogged goddamn determination to not be victims. What I am suggesting is neither easy nor pain free, but it sure beats waiting for the Deus ex Machina to swoop down and save us.
We have tools as a body of connected citizens that FDR and his contemporaries could not have BEGUN to dream of. Ways to connect. Ways to learn. Ways to collaborate. Ways to motivate. Pictures and video to convey the diversity of human experience and tools to comment and compassionately educate. We can and should hold our leadership accountable but it is to ourselves and each other that we must look to find new ways to thrive. Technology is a small part of it. A commitment to change is the engine.
On Healthcare System: Yeah, it’s broken. But many of our citizens’ health issues stem from a systemic lack of interest in holistically living better. You don’t have to eat Tofu 24/7 but how about you strap a fitbit to your hip and start to take freakish pride in skipping that taxi and walking the long way around. 500 calories burned here. Increased liver function there (save it for Whiskey Friday with my homie Baratunde). Things like heart disease and Type II diabetes are NOT strictly genetic.
In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Frank Hu, MD, of the Harvard School of Public Health found that a brisk walk for one hour daily could reduce the risk of type II diabetes by 34%.
17million americans have diabetes. If there were 6 million less people spending on co-payments for Type II diabetes at approximately $2500 per year, that would be a savings of $15 BILLION for the American people PER YEAR. Yeah not small. So go find people you like to work out with via services like Fitlink, or Mysportspartner or get your competitive juices going throwing down with your best friends across the globe via Nike+ or Weightloss Wars. Your body, mind, pocketbook and I will thank you.
On Jobs: Not being able to make a living for yourself or your family is unspeakably terrifying and so it is extra important that we take advantage of the shifting landscape of what “employment” actually is. The expectation that you will join a company (in any industry) and work there forever is simply not realistic. Embracing flexibility is your best friend and the new world is a world full of people who learn to ply their trade as contractors even as they look for full time employment. Freelancers union has made a point of organizing and empowering the non-traditional workforce. Moreover it is not only companies who are in need of freelancer or contractor services. Companies like Taskrabbit and Agentanything are connecting non-traditional service needs with non-traditional service providers; providers like you! Willing to grab someone’s dry cleaning or pull together a test prep outline in between looking for more traditional employment? Well, there are folks who will pay you for that. How about teaching online? Tutoring locally in non-traditional areas like breakdancing or DJing? There’s a market for all of this stuff. Go make some money on the skills you’ve never thought you could monetize.
On Spending: No secrets here. We’re stretched thin and as a result have less dollars to spend which in turn means we can’t buy as much. Bad right? Wrong! Well mostly wrong. We now have systems like SnapGoods.com that allow us to grab the stuff (gadgets, gear, equipment) that we need but can’t afford from other people nearby. It also provides a way to monetize the stuff you’ve already spent on. Call it collaborative consumption. Call it Rentership Society. Call it the Access Economy. Whatever you call it, understand that people will pay you to use the stuff you already own and SnapGoods will keep it safe. There are other amazing services like and Loosecubes and Getaround dealing respectively in desk space and cars that literally will help you monetize EVERYTHING.
On Education…well, I could write on this for an entire post (and will) but suffice it to say that activation, involvement, transparency, community and communication are key areas of opportunity and technology is pretty good at facilitating ALL of those.
Your portfolio of stocks, bonds and mutual fund shares may fluctuate. You may be short or long the NASDAQ and you might believe we are in a tech bubble. Whatever your outlook on the market or your level of faith in our leadership I would ask you to seriously consider at least one more investment. Us. We. Each other. The tools exist and the opportunities abound for us to begin to save ourselves. So what are you waiting for? Jump on Linkedin, Facebook, twitter and even Knodes to start finding the opportunities to connect and collaborate more effectively and profitably.