Paul Volcker and Obama: Saving the UPS Lady From Abuse

 Every time I turn on the radio or television, another broadcaster or pundit gives another take on what’s happened with the economy and who is to blame. My Republican colleagues spew email opinions in one direction. Democrats harangue in another direction. (I keep wondering where all these pundits were a year ago, don’t you?)

The only thing that seems fairly obvious to me right now is that Obama is highly likely to be our next president and so the question that has been on my mind is: Then what?

Today’s Wall St. Journal ran a sizable front page story about the emerging relationship spanning the last 18 months between former Fed Chair Paul Volcker and Obama. Many intelligent people consider Volcker a titan of economics. Considering how deep the crud is that has been created by bad legislation, no legislation, and a significant misunderstanding of the fragility of any economy, let us all hope so.

How else will we save the UPS lady from further abuse? I stopped at my UPS store to mail a package today. I asked the clerk, “how’s business?” A little slower than usual, she said, but what really was bothering her is how people were being short tempered and reactive.

It’s scary right now. I understand that. But is it really necessary to take it out on someone barely making minimum wage? It hit me that I recently heard a lecture on “containment” issues which are about psychological boundaries, what works, what doesn’t work for healthy relationships. The expert said, “No one has a right to dump anger on another person.” Dumping anger is an example of a containment issue, get it? Containment.

Even an uncertain economic future doesn’t give us the right to do that. Yet, we seem to be spoiled. I noticed it after September 11th, too. When unforeseen events disrupt our worlds, we lash out-just at the time when calm and cool headedness is most valuable.

Imagine dumping on the clerk at UPS! Shame on us. The expert on boundaries said “Containment issues are always about refusing to grow up. They are a form of abuse.” That sounds about right to me,  “My portfolio’s down, so I’m going to scream the UPS lady who makes a little more than minimum wage.”

Hardly admirable. I think the lesson is: We need to learn to handle our own stuff. If we don’t understand an investment, stay out.  (Can you imagine how much this act alone would have prevented huge economic damage?) If we take risks, accept the consequences pro or con with grace. Most importantly, if we don’t read a diversity of opinions about complex issues, we will never understand this rapidly changing world. We do not live in a cocoon. The world is complex. It takes a little time to navigate and attempt to make sense of it all.

The good news is that no matter how much the media tries to tell you how cool it is to be a kid, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I’d much rather be an adult – and handle my containment issues and handle my own life than go back to being a clueless 20-year old or abdicate my free will to pundits or politicians. As fun as 20 was at times, life is infinitely richer and more interesting now.

I just hope that whomever Obama chooses to advise him economically, if elected, will be wiser than what we have had lately. For the UPS lady.  For us all.