BUYING TIME TO SOLVE BIG PROBLEMS

A LOT OF PEOPLE these days feel they're victims of a sagging economy. And many have found themselves in pits of indebtedness they can't climb out of. But suppose they manage to negotiate with their primary creditors, who grant them a few extra months to set right their affairs. This may not resolve all the underlying concerns. But it gives people—or companies or nations—the space to begin doing so. The process is often called "buying time." It's been around for thousands of years.

Consider the story of Jonah in the Bible. God sends him to the people of Nineveh. They've wandered far from obedience to God's law. Catastrophe awaits them. The Bible suggests that if they hear Jonah's message and radically reform, the outcome will be good. Happily, they do truly hear. This buys them time—40 days, the Scriptures imply—in which to turn things around. They do. Catastrophe doesn't happen.

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November 23, 2009
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