Dependence Day

Don't wait for the stimulus plan to kick in before investing in your future.

As we reach the year's halfway point, the news as reported by Bloomberg isn't so good: “Employers in the U.S. cut 467,000 jobs in June, the unemployment rate rose and hourly earnings stagnated, offering little evidence the Obama administration's stimulus package is shoring up the labor market.” Economists skeptical about the effects of Obamanomics are predicting the recovery, whenever it might get around to happening, will be a jobless recovery.

According to a Rasmussen poll released shortly before July 4, 40% of Americans say they do not believe that the United States is a nation of “liberty and justice for all.” In addition, 76% believe it's likely the government will waste most of the $787 billion stimulus money. But even so, one out of four people — 25% — say they prefer a more active government with more services and higher taxes to a smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes. For a sizable number of people, government is not the problem…it's the solution. And when you consider that the only group of people that seem to be benefiting from the stimulus are the swelling ranks of government employees, it seems reasonable to conclude that the government will be perfectly content to maintain its “nanny state” status.

There's plenty of evidence that this is so, whether it's the state-run General Motors and Chrysler that will be developing cars legislated by bureaucrats, or it's the pending healthcare legislation that will relieve you of the responsibilities of making your own healthcare decisions. Anybody who has ever been unemployed recognizes the necessity to grab for a helping hand from time to time, but current trends are pointing to creating a culture of dependence on the government for just about everything you can imagine.

Meanwhile, the logistics industry has taken a particularly hard hit over the past year, according to the 2009 State of Logistics Report, developed by consultant Rosalyn Wilson on behalf of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. “Purchasing and ordering decreased, inventory levels rose and volumes shipped plummeted,” Wilson notes. “Many companies have not survived the prolonged downturn, and many more will not survive the upcoming months as we continue to ride out the recession. Supply chains are being redefined and processes changed so that the industry will emerge more efficient and resilient.”

Characterizing the effects of the stimulus package on logistics as “only a drop in the bucket,” Wilson recommends that companies pour whatever available resources they have into “researching and adopting new technologies to improve real-time data flows.” She also suggests you develop contingency plans for all of your suppliers, as many are facing bankruptcy or even going out of business completely.

Ultimately, rather than hoping the government steps in to bail out more companies and industries, Wilson suggests that “when you see signs of distress, try to help with the survival of those companies because they could be critical to your success in the future and the loyalty could pay high dividends.” What she's talking about is hardly radical thinking, but hardly anybody dares to say it any more: Take control of your own destiny, and work with the best interests of your company and your supply chain partners in mind.

So here's the thing: Are you a “glass half-full” or a “glass half-empty” sort of person, or are you so disillusioned with the current state of the economy that you'd fall into a third category: “I don't even have a glass”? Here we are at the mid-way point of 2009, and already we're hearing that the recovery may not arrive until mid-2010. Will you seize the opportunity to invest now into improving the vitality of your supply chain to ensure that you'll be in the best possible position for growth when the economy does bounce back? Or, will you wait for a handout from the government, with all the strings attached? It's up to you.

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