Here I sit, working on a Sunday, as usual. (It takes 24/7 to keep going in 2010.) But today I'm not doing my normal work, I'm reading Arianna Huffington's latest book Third World America, which is riveting. Reading this book is like reading a dramatic fictional best-seller. But unfortunately, it is non-fiction. Arianna documents how America got in the current economic mess, with flashbacks into historic recessions and how leaders were able to turn them around.
I have to be honest, the first half of the book is depressing. But what's even more depressing is to live this recession. So if you are one of the lucky ones who hasn't been impacted, I'd personally like to make Third World America required reading for you to keep your citizenship -- and that includes politicians who are running for office.
If you have been impacted by this recession like "tens of millions of hardworking Americans", after you read this book you will be compelled to join your fellow citizens to shout out to the politicians who have abandoned this country. And if you are a small business owner, you should be particularly outspoken. Not only has the middle class been abandoned, but small business, the acknowledged driver of the economy, has been ignored.
While Arianna shares the statistics from TARP that tell us that "one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work...one in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure...and more than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month," she goes much deeper, sharing personal tragedies that bring this recession to life.
I haven't been able to find out how many small businesses have gone under or are hanging on by a thread. But I know many are pretending that everything is 'okay' in the hope they can turn things around. Of course, while the government gave full financial support to the banks, few banks have used those funds to help small businesses. Nor has the government.
Now for the good news! Arianna offers up a compendium of ideas, many pursued recently by leaders outside the establishment. But one of her best ideas is for us to share our stories, our ideas -- both our tragedies and our successes -- on how Americans are helping each other with our personal and our business crises. As Americans, we need these stories to keep us going, to share our survival and our support with each other.
Share your story of struggle or success here. It will have an impact on others and will help our public servants understand how real people are being affected by this economic fiasco. Submit text, pictures or video -- and share how you and your business have been affected by the financial crisis.
How are you bouncing back? What are you doing to help prevent America from ever becoming a Third World nation? Forward to friends and associates for their stories.
Leslie Grossman, Cofounder, www.womensleadershipexchange.com, Author, SELLsation!