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VOL. 127 | NO. 230 | Monday, November 26, 2012

Let’s Be Thankful and Look Beyond the Data

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In our goal-oriented, performance standardized society, it is sometimes hard to realize that dates circled in red on our calendars aren’t the beginning or end to some kind of measurement.

And while there may be some backlash this holiday season against retailers who continue to move up the start of the Christmas shopping season, Black Friday will still be a big day for retailers.

But here’s hoping we can all begin to see what can be difficult to get back to given the recession we’ve been through in recent years – Thanksgiving.

It would also be a good opportunity to put in perspective the importance of economic scoreboards that chart our progress, or lack of it, toward recovery.

Where we are as a country in terms of consumer confidence and gross domestic product is important. It was just as important before the instant analysis of these trends and predictions and how far from the predictions the reality turned out to be began to be treated like a sport.

Too often the statistics, which these days not only come faster but in with more categories and more details, are a basis for very subjective reactions on Wall Street and elsewhere.

Understand, this is not a rant against the data. It’s a call for reason in how the economic data are used and interpreted.

We don’t live just in a global marketplace today. We live in a global society that the marketplace is a part of.

It is a new world with an old story. In that regard, we find ourselves in a time and place that can call to mind the travels of a group of English citizens who came here to found a trading colony by way of Holland.

Theirs was a commercial undertaking. That was the investors who financed the voyage and the founding of the colony. There was debt and each side felt the contract had been breached.

Confidence was not high among investors based on their experience with similar ventures in what some called the New World and others dismissed as what we would call a marketing tool.

Off the ledgers kept on distant shores, people died in a strange place, sacred traditions were destroyed, relationships were built, wars were fought as alliances formed.

There was betrayal, love, hope, despair, disease, hatred.

And still to come was slavery, revolution, emancipation, independence and interdependence.

The result was something bigger than the sum of the numbers in the ledger.

We still judge our story in currency and what is bought and sold. Let’s not forget it is part of the story, not the whole story.

Our prosperity and its maintenance is a means to an end. Our history, including the chapter on what we now call Thanksgiving, is the narrative of what has happened when we know that and what has happened when we lost sight of that.

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