I am finding it increasingly frustrating lately that everything can be easily blamed on our troubled economy. A company has to lay off workers because they aren't hitting sales projections? Blame the economy. Another company has to cancel a holiday party? Blame the economy. Someone down the street can't sell his house? Blame the economy. Everyone seems to be acting like 'the economy' is this thing that exists in some tangible way--like it can be personified and then pegged as the scapegoat when people aren't making as much money as they'd like.

I realize that the economy in the United States is a complicated thing, but it's more like a gigantic system of behaviors than it is like a single entity. We have all kinds of ways of measuring the economy's health as if it were a person with a cold or a tree trying to bounce back from an unforgiving winter, but those are just shorthands and ways to describe something that is ultimately intangible.

We can measure certain economic indicators and then make predictions about people's behaviors, but beyond that. there's no actual thing that we can really pin all of this blame on. And yet we do it anyway.

When a company has to lay people off, why don't we blame the company's management who didn't have a business model that was flexible enough and sustainable enough to weather hard times? When an organization cancels Christmas and blames these hard times, why don't we blame THEM for not selling their widgets at a more attractive price or for not finding some other way to provide perks for their employees? It hits hard with layoffs and reports about missed profit goals, but when the CEOs and CFOs of these companies can just point to the diseased behemoth that we are told every day is the root of our troubles, how do those folks ever get held accountable?

Is the solution always to lay people off or ask for government bailout money? Are companies fretting not because they are losing money but just because they aren't making AS MUCH money as they had hoped? This kind of thing always drives me up a wall because for profit companies hang their hat on the model of the free market so that they can charge 190 dollars for 4 dollars worth of raw materials sewn up into a shoe by someone making a dollar a day in Malaysia, but they are quick to blame "the economy" when all of those profits aren't enough to keep gas in the Lexuses and BMWs. I'm going to stop letting companies and the media that report on them tell me that the economy is the reason that unemployment is shooting up and that we may all have to tighten our belts to keep big corporations from filing for bankruptcy. Let's call the people out who make products that people don't want or need, and who provide services that are grossly over-valued in the good times to the extent that they collapse when there's pressure.