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Christmas in Dixie: life is good, future is bright

As I See It

The Christmas season seems to be more vibrant and exciting this year. The chaotic hustle and bustle has become more genuine, heartfelt and even fun. People are looking forward to spending time with friends and family and savoring holiday traditions.

I’m sure that this change is a result, in part anyway, of the calamities our country has suffered the last year. We have seen three significant “paradigm changers” over the last 12 months.

In order of occurrence, we faced the implosion of the technology industry about a year ago. Early in the new year, 50,000 high-tech sector employees lost their jobs and more layoffs were announced as the year wore on. Thousands of overnight millionaires were unceremoniously dumped back into the middle class when fortunes built on stock options collapsed. Lots of people thought that technology was so revolutionary that it was insulated from everything but unending growth and success.

In a flash, we were brought back to the reality of the free market system.

Profit, we were reminded, after all, is important.

This is not to say that advances in technology are not important. Far from it. In fact, technological innovations have permanently and materially changed the way we conduct business and live our daily lives. And the changes keep on coming at breakneck speed.

The technology industry is an important part of our economic landscape and it will recover. There are lot’s fewer technology companies now than there was a year ago, but the survivors will prosper and continue to feed the market with valuable innovations. I don’t think they will be guilty of relegating profitable operations to the scrap heap again. A valuable lesson learned hard.

The second paradigm changer visited upon us this year was our first economic recession experienced in a decade. Some believed that the advances in technology had made recessions obsolete. This is understandable since many young adults had been in the workforce for a decade and never seen a recession. The explosion in technology, advances in global trade and absence of any major war laid the foundation for a decade of unprecedented prosperity.

But in a free enterprise economy, the grim reaper always comes calling sooner or later. Recessions are necessary to adjust productive capacity to market demand. Sort of like periodic house cleaning. True enough, the decade of the nineties was so robust it was easy to get lulled into thinking that prosperity would be unending. This recession will be short lived and we will return to a growing economy during the first half of next year. You can count on it.

The final paradigm shaker was the terrorist attack in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. So much has been written about the impact on the American people resulting from being savagely attacked on our own soil that I really have little to add. However, watching the compassion and strength of our country’s reaction to the tragedy, I am compelled to say that I have never been prouder to be an American than today.

In large measure, I think these three paradigm changers have had a major impact on the Christmas spirit this year. Our economy and our personal safety have been attacked. We are not as safe and self-sufficient as we thought. We’ve learned to depend on each other more than before. We deeply and sincerely cherish our time spent with friends and family more with the realization that it can all end in a flash.

Isn’t that what the Christmas spirit is all about anyway? Self-sufficiency is the enemy of spirituality. Depending on our friends and family for support creates deeper and more lasting relationships. I am convinced that God is pleased with our increased sense of community. When it all comes down, meaningful relationships with people and respect for our Creator is what life is all about.

With all the difficulties we have experienced this year, life is still good and the future is bright. With this final column for 2001, I would like to thank our readers, advertisers, the MBJ staff and all of my friends around the country for their support and encouragement during yet another successful publishing year.

From all of us here at Mississippi Business Journal to all of you out there, we wish for you and your families the happiest of holidays — and God bless America!

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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