Overall, it’s been a pretty bleak week or two in British Politics. First the long-awaited Browne review told us fees could rise thousands of pounds if the cap was to be lifted, and that graduates like us who benefit more out of university will have to pay more towards it. The Defence Review of last week also informed us of drastic cuts to the armed forces which could put Britain’s security at risk. As of last Wednesday’s comprehensive spending review, we have found out that the government will support these rising fees and slash university funding by 40 per-cent. It’s all pretty bleak – not really something I want to turn on the TV and listen to before a 9am lecture.
But in these hard times of economic recession, cuts, pay freezes and all this talk of doom and gloom, hard times to come and ‘tightening of the belt’, let’s look on the bright side. It’s tiring listening to constant talk of the ‘double dip recession,’ cuts and ‘economic hardship’… isn’t it? So we’re going to be in debt for longer, going to have to pay more, cut down on this, and that, and whatever else. But we’ve got many things to learn from this recession.
And there’s the first benefit – we’ve learnt. Most of us know more about the world’s economic situation than we did before. This will evivitably make us more financially sensible and aware of what is going on around us in the big wide world. The recession reminds us the importance of balancing the books and not spending more than we can afford. It teaches us lessons for the future, and emphasises the point of being careful with money in a way where we can clearly see the consequences of not doing such, without learning the hard way.
The recession could also help us to be more charitable, and communicative with our society. After all, we might be in a situation of hardship, but at least we’re ‘all in this together’ right? Celebrity speakers do increasing amounts of charity work in difficult economic times, and encourage those affected by the recession to try and help others. This gives people who are struggling or unemployed a purpose, and looks good on your CV too. It inspires people to try and help others who are worse off, in order to try and see the benefit of their own situation and gain some satisfaction and wisdom from offering aid and assistance to the ones who really need it.
In recent years, there has been a consistent high level of consumerism in the UK, and the recession might also impact on this. The demand for material goods and the emphasis on things to have and more often the things we don’t have, could be eradicated. Recognising other important aspects of our lives such as relationships, having a job or our quality of life which are commonly overlooked often emerge over money and ‘things’ as more desirable, as people are forced to re-evaluate what they want, and appreciate what they have.
Furthermore, times where people stop spending and start saving mean that businesses have to do more to get us to spend. Whether that be through lowering of prices, improving the service they offer or generally increasing the quality of a product, how can we complain at companies working harder to deliver better goods to us? It makes businesses become more competitive to selling their products to us; improving their own efficiency and productivity, and means we get a better deal.
But the fundamental benefit from times of economic recession is that it causes us to think outside the box. The unknown forced us into a world where we had to consider what was happening, what might happen and try and predict what would happen in the future in a different way. It has brought about new ideas, caused people to think in alternative ways, like this article intended to do. While the problems and consequences of the past are still fresh in our minds, it gives the opportunity for people to use this knowledge in order to generate change. It encourages creativity and pushes our intellectual boundaries that otherwise might never have been tested.