The Age Of Uncertainty

Let us christen this the Age of Uncertainty. And let us take comfort in that.

No one avoids uncertainties, of course. No country, no business, no individual does. These days, however, we face a blizzard of them.

Any election presents uncertainties. The mid-term offered a smorgasbord of them. Far more than in a normal mid-term.

The post-election period presents the uncertainties of how the new congress will behave. Will it slash government spending? Will it nip and tuck government down to a smaller size? Will it raise our taxes, or lower them? ‘Tis uncertain.

Will the Tea Party hang together after the election? Will it retain its influence and hold the politicians’ tootsies to some hot coals? 

What will be the tax rates and breaks for businesses? What taxes will individuals pay – or not? Will the old congress try to sabotage the new one by enacting something unpalatable during its lame-dog session?



How will the President deal with the new congress? Will he cave and compromise on big issues? Or will he grow more stubborn?

In the Uncertainty File we find Obamacare. It caused so many uncertainties from the day it passed. Because nobody seemed to have read it. Now we must wonder whether it will remain intact under the new congress. Will parts of it be scuttled? We do not know. We are not sure where our health insurance costs are headed yet. Or whether our employers will continue with our plans. All these questions have been swept into the air by the tempest of uncertainty.

Whirling with them are questions about our jobs, our kids’ jobs, our economy. 

The President’s commission on slashing the deficit is about to spit out its recommendations. What programs will it suggest we cut? The biggest targets are surely Social Security and Medicare. ‘Tis uncertain what the commission will urge. ‘Tis uncertain what the politicians will agree to.

When a blizzard howls at your door you usually hunker down. You wait until the roads are cleared. In this blizzard of uncertainties so many of us have curled up with our money and decisions. Businesses and individuals sit on trillions of dollars. We won’t invest until we can see the road ahead more clearly. We won’t commit to the vacation, shop for the new car, buy stocks. Not before the uncertainties lessen in number and intensity.

The subject took me to the quote locker. Philosopher Erich Fromm reckoned “The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.”  You might draw extra meaning from that when you consider Fromm was also a psychoanalyst.

William Congreve assured us “Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life.”  Okay.

Tycoon J. Paul Getty mused that “Without the element of uncertainty, the bringing off of even the greatest business triumph would be dull, routine and eminently unsatisfying.”

In other words, perhaps we should take heart during this storm of uncertainties. Maybe we should be like the optimistic boy who dug through the mountain of manure figuring there had to be a pony on the other side.

Don’t let anyone catch you saying neigh to that.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.                  

For more columns, for Tom’s radio shows and new TV show (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com

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