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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

IS THE NEWS CAUSING DEPRESSION?

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 1, 2016

BRYCE ON THE NEWS

– Does it act like a drug?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
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I’ve been studying depression and the causes of it. From what I have read, scientists are not absolutely sure why it occurs, it can be for a variety of reasons, but it appears cases of it are rising in the Untied States. I’m told it affects one in ten Americans, more than 16 million adults. I also heard the United States is one of the leading nations suffering from this affliction.

People suffering from depression exhibit a variety of symptoms, such as sadness and low mood, a sense of hopelessness, irritability, persistent doubting, and intolerance. In my circle of friends, most see the country spinning out of control, not just politically, but morally both in the corporate world and personal lives. I see little optimism and cannot remember seeing someone in business “knocking them dead.” It seems most people are just trying to hang on. The stock markets seem to be stalling, as does our GDP, and we no longer seem to command respect from our overseas partners. In general, the mood of the country is simply not good; a sort of national depression.

I’ve read a few studies suggesting part of the problem is our fixation on news. I believe we consume too much of it. Traditional newspapers and news magazines may have diminished, but we now live in an era of 24/7 news reporting which we either watch on television or over the Internet. As for me, I’m a news junky as I want to stay abreast of the latest political and corporate news, as well as the avant garde. I receive news alerts during the day, view on-line news sources, and at night I watch cable news. It is even common for me to fall asleep with a news channel on all night. If I wake up and hear something newsworthy, it is not unusual for me to jump on my computer and write up some notes for an essay.

My circle of friends may not be as consumed by the news as I am, but they definitely follow it throughout the day. I also find people over 40 tend to be more interested in the news than the millennials. Nonetheless, I suspect news reporting does, indeed, have an impact on us.

Aside from tragic news which shocks our emotions, the obsession we possess in terms of political news has perhaps a more deep seeded affect on us. The news we hear is unsettling to our sensibilities. We are easily disturbed when our sense of right and wrong is tested, be it through an act of our government officials, corruption, or some other indiscretion. It simply offends us that such an act could occur. Consider this, conservatives intensely dislike Mrs. Clinton and believe she should be in jail. Likewise, liberals feel the same about Mr. Trump. If we focus on these issues too long, it begins to consume our psyche and allows depression to set in.

News also inhibits our thinking which requires concentration. To do so, we need time during the day when we are not disturbed to focus on our work. However, the news is specifically designed to interrupt our day. To illustrate, it is not uncommon for me during the work day to receive a pop-up message on some news item. However, over the years I have trained myself to quickly deal with the message (either delete or save it) before returning to my work. In other words, I have disciplined myself not to allow it to interrupt too much of my work. I tend to believe others are not as disciplined.

Thanks to technology, the news acts like a drug we are addicted to. Even though we are alarmed by what we hear, we cannot seem to change the channel, and want to know more. This is what the news media is counting on in order to fill their coffers. This explains why on a slow news day, they manage to find a small scrap of news and blow it out of proportion to unsettle us.

Perhaps the best advice on how to handle news depression comes from a masseuse friend of mine who said not to watch more than fifteen minutes of news at a sitting. “It will drive you crazy otherwise,” he contends. That’s difficult for someone like me who needs to monitor news for story ideas, but it make a lot of sense for those who are not.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Posted in Media | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

THERE’S THAT UGLY WORD AGAIN: DEPRESSION

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 23, 2011

The country’s latest round of economic gymnastics has brought up an old concept that strikes fear in both politicians and the public: Depression. The Great Depression of the 20th century was triggered by the market crash of 1929 which led to a period of approximately ten years of high unemployment, poverty, low profits, deflation, and lost opportunities for economic growth. Basically, we lost confidence in ourselves and our economic future. FDR’s social programs of the “New Deal” did not pull us out of it, only war did, specifically WW2.

The comparisons between then and now are glaring. We are already experiencing a higher unemployment rate than just prior to the Great Depression; our Gross Domestic Product is at a snail’s pace; our debt continues to mount, and; nobody has confidence in our government’s ability to control the economy. Although we have been asked to accept “Change we can believe in,” most Americans recognize we have gone from bad to worse.

The recent debt ceiling debate was politicized and resulted in a superficial fix. Government financial institutions, specifically Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which were at the epicenter of the financial disaster just four years ago, were bailed out and taken over by the federal government, yet their policies and business practices remain essentially unchanged. Although there were several recommendations for regulatory overhaul of the housing finance industry, nothing of substance ever came of it. Other stimulus bills and bailout programs did nothing to snap the economy out of its doldrums, and Obamacare is still perceived as an ominous threat to our financial well-being. Meanwhile, the country’s credit rating has dropped slightly, housing values still plummet, bankruptcies grow, exports decline, and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has flat lined. Our government officials, thereby, give the distinct impression they are incompetent of managing our economy. Frankly, if they couldn’t do it in 1929, why should we believe they can do it now, 82 years later? The reality is, they cannot. Only business can put the country back to work, but if they are inhibited by government policies and regulations, they are less likely to make bold moves.

Some might rationalize the actions in Washington, DC as “business as usual.” It’s not. This is a battle of ideologies, socialism versus capitalism, which will only be broken by the 2012 elections which historians will record as a referendum of the two incompatible economic systems. The elections will represent a game of chicken where voters will be asked to chose the system they prefer: big government versus smaller, a nanny state versus personal initiative and responsibility, excessive spending versus fiscal responsibility. Perhaps never before in our country’s history will the differences be so apparent and the stakes so high. It will be a costly election, both in terms of finances and emotions. Every seat up for election, large or small, will be fiercely contested. Wisconsin and the debt ceiling debate were glimpses into the future. The country will be forced to select one side or the other; a divided federal government, which we currently have, represents gridlock and certainly not an option as should be readily apparent by now.

One thing is for certain, the country is on a collision course politically and economically. Whichever side is the victor in 2012 will incur the wrath and scorn of the loser who will likely not go away quietly. It may even turn violent. Economics has a way of bringing out the worst in people, as anyone who survived the Great Depression can tell you. The only way to avert disaster is to create the proper incentives for business to accelerate production, put people back to work, accelerate the GDP, and curb our government’s finances. However, with only fifteen months remaining until the elections, that is probably too tall of an order to fill.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

THE DEPRESSION OF 2010

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 6, 2010

Government officials steadfastly avoid using the word “depression” as it is considered political poison, but make no mistake, we are in the midst of a great depression the likes of which we haven’t seen in about 70 years. The fact is our economy is incredibly fragile. As of this writing, the rate of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has dropped from 5.6% to a paltry 2.7%. The national unemployment rate is at 9.5% with 17 states experiencing an alarming double-digit rate. So please, stop telling us everything is okay. It’s not, and it insults our intelligence.

People have forgotten the effect the last great depression had on the citizens of this country. People were unemployed, hungry, homeless, and scared. President Roosevelt tried many government sanctioned programs in his “New Deal” to put the country back to work, such as the WPA, CCC and the PWA relief programs. Such programs could best be described as “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” as none of them did anything to re-ignite American business. We simply drifted and stagnated. The great depression of the 20th century never truly went away until the outbreak of World War II when the goals and direction of the country became vividly clear to us.

I have never seen the country as lost as it appears today. To illustrate, during the 1970’s and 1980’s there was a sense of excitement and ambition in business. Whether it was over the lunch table, at a party, or simple get-togethers, the talk was about what products needed to be built and how to tackle them, size was irrelevant; what contracts we were closing on, our pride in craftsmanship, and how our businesses were growing. We all knew where we were going and couldn’t wait to get there.

You don’t see anything remotely like this anymore. The only sign of success I’ve personally seen is a friend who owns a company that manufacturers titanium hips and knees. Everyone else is as muddled and confused as that described in the 1930’s; and you have to remember, I know a lot of people, including builders, lawyers, accountants, programmers, waiters, cooks, teachers, administrators, and across the board in corporate America. Instead of enjoying a sense of confidence, achievement, innovation, ambition and conquest, we now possess a defeatist mentality. As a result, malls are empty, employee morale is down, cutbacks are common, bills go unpaid, credit ratings fall, customers are few and far between, and people are learning to live in what is called a “survival mode.” Our “can do” mentality has been replaced by “can’t do.”

As in the great depression of yesteryear, we suffer from a lack of direction and vision which is rooted in the lack of trust in government. Frankly, I do not see any political party articulating a clear direction for the country to take, to wit:

“What are NASA’s long range plans?” Nobody knows.
“What are our plans for transportation?” Nobody knows.
“Communications?” Nobody knows.
“Energy?” Nobody knows.
“Commerce?” Nobody knows.
“How do we plan to eliminate the national debt?” Nobody knows.
“Where are the incentives to encourage business to pursue certain paths?” Nobody knows.

If we do not know where we’re going, how will we know how to get there?

President Obama’s programs are having as much success as Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” creating “make work” programs yet failing to re-ignite business. I hope it doesn’t take another World War for us to realize our priorities.

The great depression of the 20th century taught us an important lesson: as long as we remain rudderless, we will continue to float from one disaster to another and never be in control of our destiny. The depression we are experiencing is our own doing, there is nobody else to blame. Frankly, I never expected to see such irresponsible behavior in my lifetime and I’m mad as hell about it.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Economics, Politics, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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