In September, the Social Science and Medicine journal will contain the results of a long-term study that confirmed what we’ve all known – that it’s less stressful to actually be laid off from a job than it is to worry about losing a job. Worriers, those not knowing if they’ll have a job for the next year, reported poorer physical and mental health.
The study, done in two phases between 1986 – 1989 and 1995 – 2005, concludes that this type of worry is not related to the present economy and it may mean that more people are struggling to cope with higher levels of stress while suffering adverse affects of the emotional turmoil as a result.
A Gallup Poll survey done during the last week of August shows that the level of concern for the possibility of cut hours, reduction of wages and reduction of benefits is much higher than the second phase of the study. While it may be splitting hairs, the question becomes one of whether the results of the study would be the same if done during the current economic depression as the poll suggests.
Watching the headlines during the week, the same sort of conflict of supposed facts is obvious. One will say that there are signs that the depression is easing, that consumer confidence is up and that there were fewer new unemployment claims. The next bunch of headlines say that what rose the month before dropped again and that more businesses are closing. Evidence itself, the conflicting news supports the results of the Gallop poll, that there is far more concern of uncertainty than ever before.
The next question becomes one of whether the “good news” is manufactured to manipulate the public into spending money on crap instead of necessities, despite the reality of the majority of people with very little money. In order to survive, most people are learning a very valuable lesson in delayed gratification.
If there is any hope to be found in today’s current state of affairs, it will be that the majority of the population regains control and breaks free of the “sheep” mentality that has plagued this country for the last century. There is power in numbers, and if the majority of people actually waited to purchase something until they had the money instead of relying on credit, equilibrium will return with the power of people at the top of the pecking order.