91-Year-Old's Economic Survival Guide - Chuck Norris

A 91-Year-Old's Economic Survival Guide

Fact: Chuck Norris's mother has more wisdom than the entire U.S. Government   

by Chuck Norris  

copyright 2012 Creators.com

An old Spanish proverb says, "An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy." I believe that value will hold, in or out of a recession. And being that my 91-year-old mother lived through the Great Depression, I think her value (and those like her) will actually increase through these tough economic times, because their insider wisdom can help us all.

Like in the 1930s, many today are counting on government to be the savior, but thus far all that's resulting from bailouts is a ballooning repayment schedule - just like back then. Fox News recently highlighted that the total federal out-lays in 1929 were $3.1 billion (less than 3 percent of GDP). By 1940, they tripled to $9.5 billion (10 percent of GDP). Worse still, the total federal debt mushroomed from $17 billion in 1929 (16% of GDP) to $43 billion in 1940 - (44 percent of GDP). And yet, unemployment remained at 15 percent.

While many politicians avoid the schooling from that historical 1929 market crash and subsequent total economic collapse, we don't have to turn a deaf ear from the wisdom of those who have survived it. Sure, President Franklin Roosevelt posited the New Deal, but it would have been no big deal if there weren't people like my mother and her family who walked through and endured the fiscal valleys of despair back then. I believe their experience and insight can truly help us weather our economic storms today, especially if times get even leaner.

Mother was about 10-years-old when her large eight-member family endured the thick of those recessive days in rural Wilson, Okla., (only 1,600 population today). The recurring droughts across the heartland durng that period dried up the job market even more in the Midwest. Over the years, Grandpa worked multiple jobs from the oil fields to the cotton fields, and he was even a night watchman. The family members did what they could to contribute, but most of them were simply too young to play a major part.

In 1933 when President Roosevelt took office, he implemented the Works Project Administration, which employed millions of Americans in civil construction projects from bridges to dams and airports to roads. My grandfather would travel about 90 miles for a day's work to help build the Lake Murray Dam. But with a far smaller ratio of jobs compared to potential laborers, if Grandpa worked five days a month (at $1.80 a day) it was a good month.

Like with most, Mother's family didn't have running water or electricity. And Granny Scarberry did her best to keep the outhouse clean, with Grandpa helping through his regular deposits of lye to control the odors. (You can imagine how the hot, humid Oklahoma summers turned that outside commode into one small-closet-sized smelly sauna.) 

A "scavenger wagon" would come by once a week and clean out the hole. It had a small chair-like contraption over it with the hole punched out of the center. (They once had a two-seater in there, which allowed for two people to enjoy one another's company and conversation - mom told me that she always felt a little upper class when she sat with someone else.) By the way, and I'm not trying to be crude, toilet tissue wasn't around, so they used a Montgomery Ward catalogue. (And you wondered why the catalog was so thick?) No joke - they preferred the non-glossy pages. I'll let you figure out why.

Got the picture?

With that in mind, I turn to a recent conversation I had with my 91-year-old mother, in which I asked her, "How would you encourage the average American to weather the economic storms of today?"

Here's her advice, in her words:

"Get back to the basics. Simplify your life. Live within your means. People have got to be willing to downsize and be OK with it. We must quit borrowing and cut spending. Be grateful for what you have, especially your health and loved ones. Be content with what you have, and remember the stuff will never make you happy. Never. Back then, we didn't have 1/100th of what people do today, and yet we seemed happier than most today, even during the Great Depression.

"Be humble and willing to work. Back then, any work was good work. We picked cotton, picked up cans, scrap metal, whatever it took to get by. Where's that work ethic today? If someone's not being paid $10 an hour today, they're whining and unwilling to work, even if they don't have a job. Today, too many won't stoop to scoop poop, but I hear sewer work pays pretty well these days. The message from yesteryear is don't be too proud to do whatever it takes to meet the financial needs of your family.

Be rich in love. We didn't have much. In fact we had nothing at all, compared to people today, but we had each other. We were poor, but rich in love. We've lost the value of family and friends today, and we've got to gain it back if we're ever to get back on track. If we lose all our stuff and still have one another and our health, what have we really lost?

"Be a part of a community. Today people are much more alone - much more isolated. We used to be close with our neighbors. We cared for one another, watched one another's kids and shared meals together. If one person had a bigger or better garden or orchard, they shared the vegetables and fruits with others in need. We used to speak to one another daily at our fences - today, you can barely see over a neighbor's fence. Society has shifted from caring for one another to being dependent upon government aid and welfare - that is why so many today trust in government to deliver them. They've forgotten an America that used to rally around one another in smaller clusters called neighborhoods and communities. We must rekindle those local communal fires, and relearn the power of that age-old commandment, 'Love thy neighbor.'

"Help someone else. We never quit helping others back then. Today, too many people are consumed with their own problems and only helping themselves. 'What's in it for me?' is the question most are asking. But back then, it was, 'What can I do to help my neighbor?' I love Rick Warren's book, 'The Purpose-Driven Life,' and especially his thought, 'We were created for community, designed to be a blessing to others.' If we help others, others will want to help us too. But if we never reach out, and no one else knows our needs, how can we help people or people help us? Most of all, helping others gets our minds off our problems and puts things into better perspective.

"Lean upon God for help and strength. We didn't just have each other to lean on, but we had God, too. We all attended church and belonged to a faith community. Church was the hub of society, the community core and rallying point. Today, people turn to government the way we used to turn to the churches. It's been that way ever since Herbert Hoover's alleged promise of a 'chicken in every pot' and President Roosevelt's New Deal. Too many have abandoned faith and community. We trust money more than God. And maybe that's a reason why we're in this economic pickle. If greed has become our god, then maybe we'd be better off to view the recession more like a realignment. But who will admit today to being off-center? We all get lost sometimes. We all need the Lord. I don't know how or why people today try to live without Him. As the old adage goes, He's always only a prayer away." [end of quote from Chuck Norris's mom]

Now that's conventional wisdom that should be shouted and posted in every corridor of government, every community across America and every blog on the Internet.

Call me overly pragmatic, but I think a little practical wisdom and encouragement is what we all need about now. Mom has always been good for that. She still is.

Chuck Norris, a six-time undefeated middleweight world karate champion, has starred in more than 20 films (including most recently "The Expendables 2" as well as the long-running TV series "Walker, Texas Ranger." His latest book is "The Official Chuck Norris Fact Book." Learn more about his life and ministry at his official website, ChurckNorris.com.

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