An Economy in Purgatory?

I was reading Money magazine the other day and saw where an economist had referred to our current economy as Purgatory.  I have several friends who are Catholic, so I’ve heard the word before and in my mind have thought of it as a place between Heaven and Hell.  But being a Baptist, I had to rely on Merriam-Webster to show me the true definition before pondering the economy any longer.

Definition of PURGATORY

1: an intermediate state after death for expiatory purification; specifically : a place or state of punishment wherein according to Roman Catholic doctrine the souls of those who die in God’s grace may make satisfaction for past sins and so become fit for heaven

2: a place or state of temporary suffering or misery

Neither of these definitions is much better than what I already had in my mind.  So was the guy saying our economy has suffered death and is being punished?  Well that would fit the bill.  The housing bubble went out of control then burst and splattered the landscape with more foreclosures than anyone in our generation has ever seen before.  The casualties are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives as they move in with parents and in-laws coast to coast.  And let’s not forget all the fund managers who sold junk that is now worth less than the paper it was written on.  Several of those guys are also out of work and selling off assets to stay afloat in a community where people don’t like them very much.  So yes that might feel like death and punishment.

The other definition is depressing but seems to have a little hope in the fact that it states “temporary” suffering or misery.  So it feels REALLY bad, but it is going to get better.  Well, let’s hope so!  It is only when we lose hope that we truly lose everything.  America was built by a resilient bunch of folks who endured long, wet and weary trips across the Atlantic only to find the land of milk and honey was not the green pasture they had imagined.  But they persevered.  If they could endure hunger, one room cabins without electricity and fevers and chills without Tylenol, surely we can endure this recession.

We need entrepreneurs with ideas to jump start the economy again by hiring people to make their dreams a reality.  We need some more Eli Whitney, Henry Ford, Michael Dell and Bill Gates types to create products that people all around the world want to buy.  And those products need to be built right here in the good old USA to generate jobs and put some cash flow back into the economy.

Now I am no economist.  I’m just a working mom with a dream of better future.  I want my child to get a good education and make enough money to live comfortably.  That’s my American dream.  It probably isn’t much different than the dreams of the Pilgrims who made that first voyage across the Atlantic.  They didn’t lose hope and I do not intend to either.

As for Purgatory being used to describe the current state of affairs, I’m going to disagree and choose to describe it as an awakening.  It is a wakeup call to tell us all individually and as a nation that we have to start living within our means.  If we are not happy with our current means, then create something, get a patent, rent a factory and hire some Americans to make it and sell it.  Sounds simple to me.  I’m still trying to come up with something.  How about you? 

E-mail your ideas to




About boyonabudget

Did you graduate from high school or college and wonder why you never took a class on balancing your checkbook, building a household budget or stretching your paycheck from one week to the next? I bet most of us asked ourselves that at some point soon after getting out in the real world on our own. Well we can’t go back and ask for a do-over. But we can help our kids avoid that question. Let’s teach them now while they are still living at home and have the Mom and/or Dad safety net to catch them when they fall. I have eighteen years of marketing (print, web and broker) experience with the number one health insurer in America. That is how I pay the bills. Being a mom, writing a book and blogging is how I feed my creativity. I’m writing a guide for teaching kids to manage money wisely. If the adults learn a thing or two along the way, that’s all the better. Join me on a journey to financial freedom!
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