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The Coming Collapse of America

“Get it out of your mind that economic and political collapse can’t happen in this country”

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In 1992, I read Bankruptcy 1995: The Coming Collapse of America and How To Stop It, by a captain of industry, Harry E. Figgie, published by Little Brown and Company. Now, 29 years later, as our national debt is soon to reach $30 trillion, we should re-consider many of Figgie’s observations. Here are the notes and excerpts that I extracted from the book:

Bankruptcy Looms

Harry Figgie, here and for all that follows: Within two to four years, the United States, for all practical purposes, will have spent itself into bankruptcy. Interest on the national debt will become the largest item on the federal budget, and the government will have to spend more to make its interest payments than it will collect in taxes.

The federal government’s deficit, will soon be an amount un-repayable or controllable.

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Suppose you earn $50,000 annually, and you are in debt for $450,000. “Are you broke at that point? Technically, no, but you sure have a serious problem, and so do your creditors, since you won’t be able to make your payments.” Soon, the U.S. won’t even be able to afford the annual interest payment on this debt.

Spending cuts that Are Obvious

The Grace Commission report outlined how the government could cut its spending by $424 billion a year between 1984 and 1987, however, the report was ignored.

Most of the recommendations were painfully obvious. One proposal called for closing a western army base that had been built in the 1800s for use as an outpost in the Indian wars. Another base in Virginia was so antiquated it had a moat around it but the state’s junior senator insisted that it “would not be closed on his watch.” It wasn’t.

Year after year, Congress and the Administration present a budget to the American public that shows the deficit being reduced by several million dollars, while the actual deficit at year’s end comes out much higher. Meanwhile, everyone manages or pretends to remain ignorant of our impending physical collapse.

Unable to Meet IMF Standards

Only one important difference separates the U.S. and many Eastern European and South American countries that we think of as being poor or economically distressed. These countries receive aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the U.S., ignoring reality, pretends that it is still rich enough to contribute money to the fund.

Countries receiving IMF aid must conform to spending controls. If the U.S. abided by these rules, it would literally be out of business. We do not qualify for an IMF loan.

When the Federal Reserve begins to buy substantial amounts of the governments debt, large private investors become overly concerned with inflation, interest rates begin to rise, and the process builds on itself. To protect yourself, watch for stories about bankers and economists fretting about the expanding money supply.

Decline in the Standard of Living

Some people believe that the debt hasn’t caused their standard of living to suffer, but there has been an actual fall in real family income, the percentage of Americans who own homes, and other vital indicators.

Moreover, personal bankruptcy is nearly triple what it was in the 1960s and 1970s, the cost of higher education exceeds the means of most families, a higher proportion of families require two parents bringing in income, and the age at which first homes are purchased is rising.

The solution involves unrelenting pressure on Congress. Call, write, visit. Be assertive but courteous. Convey your concerns clearly and forcefully. Demand that your elected leaders and officials be accountable to you.

The End of Modest Measures

The time for modest measures has passed. We are in an emergency situation.

The author admonishes: “Get it out of your mind that economic and political collapse can’t happen in this country, or that we can deal with it once it happens.”

Harry Figgie concludes: We must either take control, or suffer the consequences of losing control entirely.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Bite-Sized Motivation

The insights or wisdom we need to get us going often don’t have to be more than a few words

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I’ve spoken to 1075 audiences at conventions, conferences, and meetings, and have had the opportunity to hear probably 800 other speakers as well.

The insights, perspectives, or wisdom we need, to get us going often don’t have to be more than a few words. Here are 52 of my own six word “speeches,” drawn from my keynotes and breakout session on the topic of work-life balance. Some of these likely will resonate with you:

Choose from what you already have.
Everyone needs breathing space, especially you.
Information overload obscures meaning and relevance.
Deep breathes are essential for well-being.

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Make every day an organized day.
Allow your natural rhythms to rule.
Stay confident and in control daily.
Manage your time, manage your life.

Slow down to plot your course.
Look for the best in others.
Make yourself indispensable on the job.
Compete with yourself, not with others.

Learn to take control of today.
Manage your time to make time.
Take control of your desk clutter.
You’re the best when you’re fresh.

Do something to take control now.
Major projects often require a jumpstart.
Methodically pare down your paper piles.
Don’t attempt too much at once.

Evaluate your situation and what’s important.
Narrow your priorities to stay focused.
Avoid making promises you can’t keep.
Learn to embrace your many talents.

Take the time to become organized.
Become aware of how you react.
Arrange your space; help isn’t coming.
Manage the flat surfaces in life.

Periodically challenge yourself to perform better.
Take long, deep breaths as needed.
Reclaim your places, spaces, and graces.
Start big projects well in advance.

Don’t rush the truly important things.
Make the best use of today.
Schedule accordingly: plan for your future.
Be kind, cut yourself some slack.

Opportunity knocks, but are you answering?
Conventional wisdom has diminishing value.
When practical, substitute time for money.
The market for top talent lives.

The self-reliant survive and thrive.
Leadership requires forethought and super-vision.
Learn from and capitalize on mistakes.
Firmly face the future with confidence.

“Now” holds a lot of opportunity.
Control but don’t curb your enthusiasm.
Treading water won’t propel you forward.
Have you ever really tested yourself?

Life goes on; do your best.
Continually seek out the higher ground.
Luck is distributed evenly, but disguised.
You must be doing something right.

 


 

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Work-Life Balance in Your Life

It the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life

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Work-life balance (WLB) is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life with sufficient leisure. WLB, also referred to by some as work-life harmony, work-life shift, work-life blend, work-life effectiveness, or work-life integration, requires focus and awareness despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for our time and attention.

Work-life balance entails having what I call “breathing space” for yourself each day, feeling a sense of accomplishment while not being consumed by work, and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. WLB is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within the course of a day and a week, and however many years you have left in your life.

Supporting Disciplines

Several disciplines support work-life balance though, individually, none are synonymous with work-life balance:

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1) Self Management

Sufficiently managing one’s self can be challenging, particularly in getting proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Self-management is the recognition that effectively using the spaces in our lives is vital, and that life, time, and available resources are finite. It means becoming captain of our own ship; no one is coming to steer for us.

2) Time Management

Effective time management involves making optimal use of your day and the supporting resources that can be summoned – you can only keep pace when your resources match your challenges. Time management is enhanced through appropriate goals and discerning what is both important and urgent, versus important OR urgent. It entails understanding what you do best and when, and assembling the appropriate tools to accomplish specific tasks.

3) Stress Management

By nature, societies tend to become more complex over time. In the face of increasing complexity, stress on the individual is inevitable. More people, noise, and distractions, independent of one’s individual circumstances, require each of us to become more adept at maintaining tranquility and being able to work ourselves out of pressure-filled situations. Most forms of multi-tasking ultimately increase our stress, while focusing on one thing at a time helps decrease stress.

4) Change Management

In our fast-paced world, change is virtually the only constant. Continually adopting new methods, adapting old, and re-adapting all methods is vital to a successful career and a happy home life. Effective change management involves offering periodic and concerted efforts so that the volume and rate of change at work and at home does not overwhelm or defeat you.

5) Technology Management

Effectively managing technology requires ensuring that technology serves you, rather than abuses you. Technology has always been with us, since the first walking stick, spear, flint, and wheel. Today, the rate of technological change is accelerating, brought on by vendors seeking expanding market share. Often you have no choice but to keep up with the technological Joneses, but rule technology, don’t let it rule you.

6) Leisure Management

The most overlooked of the work-life balance supporting disciplines, leisure management acknowledges 1) the importance of rest and relaxation, 2) that “time off” is a vital component of the human experience, and 3) that one can’t indefinitely short-change leisure without repercussions. Curiously, too much of the same leisure activity, however enjoyable, can lead to monotony. Thus, effective leisure management requires varying one’s activities.

Entirely Achievable

Achieving work-life balance does not require radical changes in what you do. It is about developing fresh perspectives and sensible, actionable solutions that are appropriate for you. It is fully engaging in life with what you have, right where you are, smack dab in the ever-changing dynamics of your existence.

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