Coping mechanisms and sunny ways

Having spent the last four days searching for good news about how to deal with the economic crisis that is holding the world in unending suspense, I am still battling with myself over the meager harvest I have in hand.
Fortunately, I am an expert in counting my blessings and enjoying them. The more limes I get, the more I make delicious lime juice.
As usual, in the course of that search for possible solutions, I am finding that there are two levels at which the crisis is to be managed. Notwithstanding the value and necessity of joint and mutually supporting efforts between our governments and us, it is still practical for both governments and the people to each have their action plans which they will implement at their respective levels.
At both levels, there also is need for a two-speed strategy. Short-term and emergency measures are to be combined with longer-term measures aimed at structural transformation of our economy and our personal finances, in tune with the vision which we choose to pursue.
Before we consider a summary of those two levels of action and the two-speed strategy, a quick look at the bad news and the good news for Canadians is in order.
The bad news is that deficiencies in the Canadian and world economies are structural and complexly interwoven with political, socio-economic, cultural and values-laden issues. That means that, for all practical purposes, there are no real solutions.
The partial remedies can take between five and 15 years to show the first tangible results. If by some miracle there ever emerged some consensus on long-term structural solutions, these would take a generation or two to plan and implement.
Moreover, the specialized pundits generally agree the decline will continue for a while and there is no clear indication of how low that decline will go before it bottoms out. Whether we are talking about the collapsing prices of commodities (oil and gas, petro-chemical products and metals), lack of growth in the Canadian economy or the value of the Canadian dollar, the reality is the same.
We don’t know enough about the immediate future and we have no quick fix for those issues, having failed to dedicate ourselves to the diversification of the Canadian economy over the last 50 years.
The good news is the world economy is unlikely to crash suddenly in the next few years and Canada does have the intellectual and material resources to work its way slowly out of the economic rut in the short term and the long term. Our three big assets are our natural resources, our stable political environment and a wealth of top quality human resources, thanks to our high rate of tertiary education and our high level of immigration.
We have another major advantage that must not be underestimated. We can mobilize the political will to face up to the transformational change our economy needs because, on this issue, it is 10 times easier to convince Liberal and NDP governments than Conservative governments. Can we imagine facing the current somber scenario under the “leadership” of the previous Conservative governments in Ottawa and Alberta?
And now we come to the solutions, or more accurately, the partial remedies.
For the three levels of government, I recommend three priorities: innovation, inclusion and constant alleviation. In every industry, in every sub-sector, identify and support any and every opportunity to commercialize and export commercially viable products and services.
In every plan, project or program, include at both the formulation and implementation stages all relevant parties. Every day, every month, every year, take measures to alleviate the suffering of the vulnerable and marginalized segments of our population: remember that while the grass is growing, the horse is starving. For individuals, groups and communities, I suggest just a few of my standard remedial and preventative measures.
In your personal finances, keep your debts under control. If you are using debt to pay for your living expenses, get professional help. If you cannot afford to pay for it, get access to the services of the not-for-profit and community organizations.
For those living paycheque to paycheque, avoid credit cards; use cash and debit cards.