Tuesday, March 3, 2009

An old timer's view of the recession

My Grandfather had an interesting perspective on the depression of the 30's that applies today I think.

Joe Balch (you can google him) had grown up in North Dakota in the twenties and thirties and experienced the depression and an outbreak of Tuberculosis at the same time. His thought was that those who try hard will suffer just as much as those who don't. Rich or poor, classy neighborhood or urban projects didn't really matter.

Everyone gets kicked just as hard. The difference is not whether or not you get kicked, its how you respond and what you do to improve your situation.

In his case back then, he started on his way to Alaska, but ended up in a coal mine in Wyoming, then in the Marines for WW2. In the end he got to Alaska, but not until '46.

If you'd seen him its unlikely you'd think he had much money at all. But after homesteading a huge tract of land for nearly 60 years he was a millionaire by the time he died at 84. How did he do it?

Simple hard work. He farmed. He was an inventor. He never took loans...for anything. If he couldn't pay cash, he lived without. He looked like a plain old Joe living in the Arctic outback, but none of the depressions, recessions, or bear markets ever really hurt him. Even when he did lose a ton of money in the late 70's recession (a few hundred thousand from one of his inventions vanished in a bad investment) he just tightened his belt and kept on trucking.

I think we all stand to learn something from guys like him. Don't let the depression depress you, just think of it as a challenge and find a way to surmount it. That's what Grampa did.
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