Back in recession or bumping along the bottom, it seems to make little difference and it’s hard to get excited or depressed about so-called growth that falls from less than one percent to, well less than minus one percent! It probably matters to the economists but to the rest of us the feel-good-factor seems but a distant memory.
Breaking out of this won’t be easy. It’s clear that careful fiscal control will remain of vital importance but psychologically, this won’t be enough. Just as we know that setting negative goals doesn’t work because of the inability of the subconscious mind to process a negative, we are going to need something more positive to work towards on a macro level.
We need the spirit captured in the wonderfully uplifting piece of music: Copland’s – Fanfare for the Common Man. Prudence, thrift and the hair shirt will only get us so far. Regardless of your politics, when have you ever been inspired by holding back, by being constrained and by not doing something?
Furthermore, the future can’t just be a return to the past, albeit with improved controls over spending and a streamlined public sector. That might be enough to return a party to political power but it’s not going to be a long-term solution. We need nothing less than an explosion in creativity and entrepreneurial talent – a new sense of being liberated and excited. This only happens when we have a clear and well-formed outcome that is stated in positive terms and that compels us to stop playing safe and to take a risk or two.
Maybe the Olympics will provide the stimulus? Perhaps a decent summer will help too – but one thing’s for sure, our leaders need to take a leaf out any coach’s book and start talking more about what we want and less about what has got us here and what we don’t want any more.