The people of the Orange County are an optimistic bunch. Yet, one can see this optimism slowly fading away into the darkness. For a country which is so close to perhaps world’s biggest entertainment hub, this is not a pretty picture. It would be wrong to blame the people. Little has gone right for the county since the economic recession of 2008, the effects of which are still quite visible. For a county which was already suffering from one of the more serious unemployment problems than compared to the average figures of the United States of America, the recession of 2008 has spelt doom, and its repercussions can still be felt.
Take the case of the 34-year old Mr. Matthews who had a small shop selling electronic goods. However, with most people who gave him patronage, out of jobs or saving up for the bleak future, there are no takers for his once steadily selling shop of television sets and radios. His only hope is a government bailout, so that his customers have more money in their hands, or in other words greater purchasing power so as to indirectly get him out of this mess. Mr. Matthews situation is in complete contrast with Mrs. Mosby who is a secretary with the local government authority.
She has been affected very little by the 2008 economic recession but maintains that she is concerned about a lot of her friends, whose businesses have shut or who have been shown the door in their jobs. The only consequence of this recession on her is that while her pay has not increased, prices of many commodities of even general use have gone by which makes it difficult for her to make the ends of her household meet. She is for the moment thankful that she has a government job, but strongly advocates that it is the state’s responsibility to find her fellow citizens a job which at the very least promises them adequate means of survival.
Recession and the deteriorating economic situation is a concern not only to those who are currently affected by it, but also those who may be affected by it in the future. Take the case of 24-year old Mike, who is a final year student at the local university. He agrees that the heat in the air can be felt by all, and even though his university manages to put together a small career fair every year, it seems a difficult proposition this year. Although in the top half of his class, Mike admits that getting a job which helps him repay his educational loans he took for college, at least currently, seems to be a daunting task.
He is hopeful that by the time he graduates, the situation would improve. He doesn’t make a case for out and out state intervention, but hopes that the state would help big economic powerhouses by giving them incentives and subsidies. Things have turned sour for those who are self-employed as well. Take the instance of a lawyer who has his own practice, Miss Timberlake. Litigation has become suddenly too expensive, and people seem to prefer to hold up matters for now. Even matters of home foreclosure have got delayed for now.
People are looking at otherwise normal litigation procedures as a luxury service, which they are unable to afford at the moment, and are not as big a priority as say medical and health expenditure. Health insurance companies are facing the heat as no other according to Jeff, who works at one of the biggest insurance companies. The health and medical costs have spiraled over the last few years. The fact that people have very little disposal income, and are defaulting on their regular premium payments is making the matters worse for the insurance companies.
Their being no solution in sight, people are turning to each other and urging them to perform acts of gratitude. For instance, appeals are being made to doctors and other hospital staff to give up a day’s pay. People are becoming much more cautious and conservative in spending their money. For instance, the younger siblings are getting their older siblings clothes. The insurance companies don’t have enough cash flowing in so as to be able to cope up with the increasing medical costs.
This spells a disaster not just for one or two companies, but for two industries which are vital to the US economy – health and insurance. Whether there is a way out of this mess is the million dollar question facing everyone right now. The companies in both sectors, however, are optimistic and hope to see things improving with the Obama administration. Obama’s success in being able to pass the health insurance bill is being seen as a huge positive and people seem to be oddly comforted by his words of promise. Job creation is what people are currently looking forward to.
Perhaps, the only sections of the society who have nothing to lose right now are the school going children. However, it is amazing how the economic crisis has made way into their everyday conversations as well. David who is only 14 is angry at the whole situation. He maintains that the whole crisis is the fault of the government, which allowed risky investments to be made. He is also unhappy about the liberal policies which have allowed a bulk of the work to be outsourced to other destinations where labour is much cheaper.
Stricter laws are needed, he argues emphatically. Those who are retired have been hit badly as well. Their pension schemes and other insurance amounts are simply not enough for them to be able to make their ends meet. Home foreclosures are likely and in the offing, and this has most of them worried. Take the case of Mr. Andrews, who is 66 years old and survives on a small pension scheme. Recently the prices of even basic consumables have risen so sharply risen that he is finding it difficult to make the ends meet.
His old age means that it is much more difficult for him to find a job as compared to other freshers just out of college. He is worried that if the State fails to take some concrete steps soon, many Americans could be tinkering on the verge of starving poverty. Take the case of Mr. Murdoch who is a stock market analyst and broker. In the economic recession of 2008, he lost close to $100,000. He says that he is devastated and doesn’t know if there is any hope remaining for his business, and whether he will be able to revive it in the near future.
He is currently torn between the idea of continuing his business, or taking up a small job somewhere. However, he himself laughs at the irony of it all, given that it would be near impossible to find a job anywhere. He also feels responsible to many of his clients, who he was acting for, and have lost a considerable amount of money in the stock market. At the same time, however, he is quick to point out that investment in the market is subject to market risks, and therefore, one is understood to have assumed the same.