An Optimist’s Outlook: Why Not “Unemployment Day” Instead?

1.5 hour wait at Sunnyside Restaurant, Lake Tahoe at 1:30pm

With the US unemployment rate at 9.1%, Americans everywhere celebrated employment by taking Monday, 9/5 off.  Does anybody else not find it a little ironic that with such a crappy labor market, we’ve got such a holiday as Labor Day?  Do we really need to celebrate the employed when there are millions of unemployed looking for work?

Celebrating Labor Day is like eating a Big Mac with a strawberry milkshake in front of a person post heart surgery.  “Hey, look at me!  I’m BBQing in front of my pool on Labor Day!  My life is great!”  I don’t know about you, but that feels kind of off in this economy.

Instead, we should have “Unemployment Day”, which allows those who are unemployed a chance to work all day as a trial for a potential employer and get paid!

As many of you know, I am one of the most optimistic people out there who consistently highlights the positives.  I believe what I see, not so much what I hear, and make investment and spending decisions accordingly.

SOME RECENT BULLISH ANECDOTES

1)    Just this past weekend, it took me 45 minutes to get a burger at a side street vendor in Tahoe at 1:30pm because people didn’t want to wait 1.5 hours to eat lunch at Sunnyside Restaurant on the shore.  The entire Tahoe area was overflowing with people and the resort I stayed at was sold out.

2)    I’ve been waiting to book my round-trip tickets to Europe because I believe prices should come down with oil declining, and unrest in Europe and the stock markets.  It’s almost 30 days until the trip, and I can’t tell if prices have come down at all since each economy class ticket still costs around $1,500.  Screw the wait.  I’m booking them.

3)    I along with 6 other people I know are refinancing their mortgages to rates 50 bps or more lower than last year.  One friend is saving $500 a month interest, after saving $1,200 a month when he refinanced last year.

4)   Just the other week, police impounded the following cars for illegal street racing in Canada.  The average price of these cars new is well over $150,000 for a total price of $2 million.  The kicker?  All owners are under 21!  Just goes to show you that anybody can make money at any age and that there’s more wealth out there than you can imagine.

•2007 Ferrari 599
•2010 Lamborghini Gallardo
•2010 Lamborghini Gallardo
•2009 Lamborghini Gallardo
•2009 Audi R8
•2012 Nissan GT-R
•2010 Nissan GT-R
•2010 Nissan GT-R
•2010 Maserati Turismo
•2010 Maserati Turismo
•2011 Mercedes SL63
•2011 Mercedes SLS
•2005 Aston Martin DB9

5)    Everybody’s response when I ask what they plan on doing if the markets take another dive is, “I’m going to buy more.”  I’ve inquired multiple times before, and everybody always says,“Buying opportunity, and buying more” like there’s an endless pit of money.  People do have plenty of cash, and are also very positive about corporate earnings and the markets, otherwise, they can’t and wouldn’t be “buying more” now would they!

Some of you may think that highlighting bullish anecdotes is akin to celebrating Labor Day during economic difficulties.  Yes, I can definitely see that.  However, it’s good to highlight truths, understand discrepancies, give hope, and calm my agitation when things are overly crowded.  Does my picture in this post not show how crowded the restaurant was at 1:30pm?  Besides, there are too many negative reports out there!

Who enjoys being stuck in traffic, missing your bus because it’s full and won’t stop, and not being able to get a reservation?  Nobody.  I hate it frankly, which is why I used to be so surprised when things felt like 1999 all over again.  But, I’m used to it now.  I do realize the employment picture is not very pretty and it’s about to get very ugly right before the holidays.

THINGS THAT ANNOY CAN MAKE YOU FIT AND WEALTHY!

I will always be an optimist.  When traffic is horrendous, I think about how awesome it is that people have lots of cars and are going places to spend money.  When my favorite restaurant won’t take reservations until 9pm on a weeknight, I think to myself all the money and calories I’ll save by just staying in.  When big government gets bigger and aggressively wants to redistribute wealth, I think about how great Socialism will be once I’m retired as all of other people’s wealth comes to me.

Optimism is a very important attribute, which will carry you forward through the most difficult of times.  The basic tenant is that you think things will get better.  I implore all of you to sta away from pessimists and folks who try and bring you down.  It’s not healthy and it’s not necessary.  Perhaps when unemployment levels are down to 3% or below should we only celebrate Labor Day.  But for now, Unemployment Day and giving people a chance to work just might be a much better solution.

Readers, do yo think people should be more sensitive to the unemployed on Labor Day?  Or, does it not really matter and we should say and do whatever we want given we’ve worked hard for our money?

If you go through difficult times in the first half of your life, are you forever jaded and unable to be an optimist?

Is optimism inherent or learned?

Regards,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. David M says

    You wrote – Everybody’s response when I ask what they plan on doing if the markets take another dive is, “I’m going to buy more. To me that is a very bad sign as the masses usually get it wrong – thus I think we are likely in for a long downturn in stocks. Maybe we will repeat Japan which had the Nikkei at 40,000 at one time and over 20 years later it is down below 9,600.

    American holidays for the most part are in name only and do not celebrate what they are supposed to celebrate. Do we need a day off to celebrate labor – absolutely not. We should just change it to “New School Year Day” and enjoy the day off!

    • says

      Japan is definitely not out of the question at all. The 10-yr bond yield looks surprisingly similar to the JGB now.

      Seems like people have an endless supply of money as everybody always seems to be buying more. At some point, it has to stop right? Maybe not.

  2. says

    Interesting. Good luck pushing the unemployment day, but I’m afraid it would create less jobs (ironically enough). Employers would probably use it as a way to get hours without committing to long term employment withe benefits, etc. I agree with cashflowmantra, optimism can be natural or learned.

  3. says

    I think optimism has a lot to do with what you see everyday. Sam, you live in a thriving part of the country, which I think may contribute to your optimism some. I too am an optimist, but I also consider myself a realist. Living just outside Detroit, I don’t see as much of the long lines you are talking about, although it isn’t like people aren’t spending money here, they are.

    I was talking with a friend of mine who just got back from an Alaskan cruise. The trip was booked months prior and when my friend was arranging the trip, the travel agent said she was lucky to even get a cabin given how late they booked. My friend then said ‘but what about the poor economy and recession?’. The agent said ‘people who like cruises generally aren’t affected by the economy like many others are’. So, there is a segment of the population that will generally thrive, and I do think being in northern California you probably see a lot more people like that than I do.

    Oh, and if my level of optimism was based on the first half of my life, I would walk around like quite an angry person. You gotta appreciate what you have in the moment and realize that you are in control of your destiny!

    I will say that I only know 2 people who are unemployed, and they aren’t really looking for jobs, so I think the picture is better than it was. However, since the downgrade happened, some corporate pocketbooks seem to have closed up somewhat locally. However, I am much more optimistic than I was a year or two ago. I just keep on buying low! (Hopefully it is low…)

    • says

      When I was six years old, I fell flat on my face in front of a crowd during a festival race. It was embarrassing and I came in dead last. Determined, i got up and told my parents I would try again, and I did the very next hour. I don’t remember winning, but I do remember I was happy that I at least finished as my parents snapped a foto of me with my thumbs up, smiling :)

      • says

        So you were determined even as a young lad. Many kids would have just blamed some circumstance and given up.

        I was very determined myself, but it may have been more tied to survival…

  4. Untemplater says

    I just passed a casino bus packed full of people which looks bullish. I’m sure there are areas of the country that aren’t bustling though, esp where large blue collar job opportunities have dried up or scaled back.

    Optimism can definitely be learned and picked up at any stage. I used to be angry and depressed a lot of the time when I was growing up and thank goodness those days are behind me. I also think there are people with personalities that are naturally extra bubbly and happy, and I think that rocks!

  5. Fin-Edu says

    I totally agree there is no logical reason to celebrate a “Labor Day” on a high unemployment economy. Perphaps we just like the excuse to take a paid day off. But if you put it on a different perspective Holidays always bring high amount of income to stores, restaurants and business in general, people get this “expend all you can because is a Holiday” kind of actitude.

    Maybe we need more Holidays to boost our economy back on the rails?? …..just joking.

    I am glad you are such an optimistic person, call it coincidence, but optimistic persons tend to be the ones that acomplish success most of the time. Hey! the founder of Macy’s went bankrrupcy 7 times before hitting the big score, so is just a matter of not letting your defeats stop you. Stand up, regain your balance and push forward in life.

    • says

      Thank you for highlighting the Macy’s example! If that’s true (is it possible?) that is so awesome!

      Good point about vacation splurging too. Didnt think about that! We should at least be more on par with other developed nations and holidays.

      • Fin-Edu says

        I think I misscounted, it was actually 4 failures and then the success. Here is the wikipedia link for his biography…”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rowland_Hussey_Macy”

        We have quite a lot of Holidays, more than we need I would say. If people would focus more on being productive, working and creating value for our society, we could create more innovation boost our competiviness and bring more jobs to USA. In my opinion what has caused this country to go off rails is the abundant concensus that our goverment has granted to anyone who asked for something. Lets put an example on unions, they have scared away jobs to other non unionized countries.. Increasing the minimum wage, this creates the illusion people is making more money but actually inflation adjust prices very fast to this level, so if you must pay your people (cashiers,stockers,etc) more, you must raise prices too, and this makes things worse. The more we try to equally spread the wealth the more we damage our country. I can use the old Soviet Union, and my old country Cuba as examples. They tried to socialize everything, making the goverment meddle in every tiny detail of people’s life, in the in those systems only brought misery, pain and need.(we had universal healthcare, but we did not had pills, drugs, or equipment to operate. Plenty of doctors and not a solution to any disease.)

        Think about the consequences of having the goverment regulating every aspect of our lives??

        • says

          I think America wants big government, so I don’t think there is a point fighting it. We should take advantage of what the govt wants instead.

          I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba. My Spanish House instructor was Cubano and he rocked! He told me never to speak of Fidel, for that will give him more life.

        • Fin-Edu says

          Fidel feeds on the soul of 11 million cubans, but you know it may sound harsh but my people have what they deserve, we supported his cause and his fight, and when he did not kept his promises of a free Cuba , we crossed our arms and did nothing. And nothing we are still doing. Sam, Cuba is a beautiful country , if someday you have the chance to go it will be my pleasure to show it to you or at least point you in the right direction of places to visit.

          Going back to optimism, some people has innate capabilities to be optimist, others are pessemist, there are those who are in the middle, called defensive pessimists”They are those who plan and create backup solution for any problem that may come, they differ from the pessimist that they do not expect the worst to happen , neither they expect the best outcome, so they are ready for anything” (Eastern cultures tend to be inclined to this according to studies) But the final point is that optimism can be tailored, improved and in the long run we all can become optimists.

          I am afraid that some day this country may become socialized, we are the highest bastion of free capitalism, if we fall prey to the expectations of those who want to live from the sweat of us(being us the ones who do the work) hell will come to earth. Freedom everybody, you will never know what is like to have none until is too late to take it back…

          Hear the words from someone who knows what lacking liberty and freedom is…

  6. says

    Optimism is a positive feedback loop. The more optimistic you are, the more good things happen. I recently read that the current unemployment problem effect many people differently. The highly educated and skilled people are doing quite well. The people that are in trouble are the less educated and less skilled. I think the Labor Day weekend was well placed. Imagine if there were no 3 days weekend at the end of summer. People wouldn’t have a chance to take a break and spend some money. :) Next long weekend is all the way until Thanksgiving…

  7. says

    Optimism and pessimism are learned responses. In other words you can change. Pessimists just accept the negative as if there is no choice. Optimists are positive because they do something that makes them optimistic or positive.
    Labor Day is celebrating work not that you have a job.

  8. The Genius says

    I try and stay away from pessimists as well. I can spot them from a mile away. They are always complaining, highlight the negatives, and are just one big dark cloud. No thank you.

  9. says

    i think we can celebrate a day for those who are working and still think about and support those who are actively looking for work. The fact is that many of those who are not at a job aren’t out of work by their own choice. They are also working…working at getting a new job.

    • Fin-Edu says

      Many people have given up.. they are no longer looking for work, others dont want to take a job that pay less that what unemployment will bring to their pockets(on their opinion is better to love free for a year and a half than to sweat your forehead on Mcdonalds for 7.25 an hour.) Thats why you see now hiring signs in a lot of low minimum wage jobs. We have to wake up, they must stop draining the resources that we, the working people are creating, reduce unemployment compensation to just 6 months, thats more than enough time to find a job even if it is a minimum wage one, but at least those that make the sacrifice of working in those places can be proud of not being parasites of our society…

  10. Darwin's Money says

    I never really think of unemployed on Labor day; it’s more a union movement these days. I think of the unrealistic and inflexible demands present-day unions place on municipalities and companies and the bullying tactics they employ. On the other hand, without them, we might not have the 5 day workweek and benefits we do, even as non-union employees. It’s tough to say where we’d be without them historically, or what the country would be like without them now.

    As far as optimism, it’s served me well, but I always mix pragmatism in there. I think the bullish indicators you see are only indicative of a very small sub-set of the US population. I couldn’t get a table at Cheesecake factory for over 1.5 hours at a 4PM start! However, there are a record number of Americans on foodstamps, the “real” unemployment rate is over 12%, and the economy’s headed for another double-dip.

    The upper middle income and upper class are doing just fine. Bottom half? Drowning.

    • says

      The 1.5 hour wait at Cheescake Factory (mid end imo) is a very bullish indicator for the middle class to me. Who on earth waits 1.5 hours at 3-5pm for dinner?! :) I’d just go buy me a hotdog.

      I like thinking about Labor Day as a union movement… that’s a good thought shift. Thx.

  11. says

    Its one thing to be optimistic but you have to temper optimism with a little bit of realism.
    Take for example the Obama administration and their attempts to be optimistic about the economy and job creation. The official unemployment figures stand around 9%, but this does not include those who are unemployed and have given up looking for jobs and those who are under employed. If we were to combine all 3 groups of people the actual unemployment numbers are closer to 16%. They can try and spin the data in a positive light, but the numbers don’t lie.

    • says

      The Obama administration has to be optimistic about job growth, otherwise there’s no point.

      I don’t think they are saying the job environment is great. They admit it’s bad, and must be optimistic about the future or else there’s no hope.

  12. says

    I am completely sympathetic to the honestly unemployed. What I mean by that are those who work to find work and then work hard to maintain their gainful employment. I do some volunteer work with social agencies supporting some who show no interest in work… yet want everyone else to give to them. Flaunt it? No… but take a day to enjoy for working hard and maintaining the discipline. Absolutely…

  13. says

    From J Johnson http://www.jeremynoeljohnson.com/:

    Do you think people should be more sensitive to the unemployed on Labor Day?
    -> I have a tough time with this. I have no hard facts that every unemployed person is honestly seeking employment or doing what it takes to improve their skills until they get employment. Even so, the compassionate side of me says, yes, let’s take some time out for them.
    Does it not really matter and we should say and do whatever we want given we’ve worked hard for our money?
    -> I think there has to be some slack and compassion from those of us who are working and employed. There’s so many variables in life that to put an absolute stamp on something probably undercuts possibilities for others.
    If you go through difficult times in the first half of your life, are you forever jaded and unable to be an optimist?
    -> I don’t think so, but I do believe that you are ‘behind’, like starting a race with a handicap. To make up the ground, you’ll have to work that much harder.
    Is optimism inherent or learned?
    -> Not inherited in my opinion. If you have an optimistic set of parents, you learn optimism at a young age. If you don’t have optimistic parents and nobody else who is optimistic, you’ll have to learn it later in life, but I see that as difficult for those who don’t even know they can be optimistic…
    Good stuff Sam.

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