Saturday, February 28, 2009

Everything's amazing and nobody's happy

Via Amba I've just seen a perfect rant about the times. Unfortunately embedding isn't allowed so you're just going to have to suffer and click on the link.

And herein lies a problem. Our economy has become tough. Unemployment is up (believe me, I know), the financial sector is a disaster, housing markets are desperate, etc. But the times are still great from a historical perspective. Hell, we could have several years of moderate contraction in the economy and we would still be in great shape from an absolute perspective.

And the toys! They're not really going anywhere. Our cell phones and HD TVs, the iPods and air conditioning, those aren't really going anywhere. You might not be able to replace them as often as you'd like, but they're going to be around when you DO scrape up the funds for new stuff. Unless they've been replaced by something even better, of course.

Food is plentiful, shelter is available, information is more widely disseminated than ever before. Here in the US we're not really having that bad of a time.

Even our biggest problems (debt, government) are tractable problems if we would address them calmly.

But we won't. "Bad times" has become a relative term. Compared to the fat times of the previous 26 years, the next few years are going to suck. But only on those terms, and not even entirely by those terms. In the 1980s we were thrilled to have Walkmen cassette players. (For you kids that may be reading this, those were small devices that played a cassette which contained roughly one album of recorded music. The cassettes themselves were as big or bigger than most MP3 on the market today.) I'd be pissed to be stuck with having to listen to only one album at a time now. But we thought times were great in 1986.

Unfortunately, we are responding to the current crisis in entirely the wrong way: We are increasing our debt load and expanding the role of government. This is going to lead to even tougher choices (relatively speaking) in the future, which we will certainly over-react to again. It's a downward spiral, and it's partly attributable to our impatience in waiting a couple of seconds for our miracles devices to send and receive signals from space.

No comments: