Time magazine has an interesting article that examines the current recession from a cultural perspective and proclaims the end of the age of excess. I guess I'll have to put my dream of having an H3 in the Orange County suburbs on hold. But the article makes huge generalizations about society and neglects some of the modern-day Cassandras that saw this one coming:
We saw what was happening for years, for decades, but we ignored it or shrugged it off, preferring to imagine that we weren't really headed over the falls. The U.S. auto industry has been in deep trouble for more than a quarter-century. The median household income has been steadily declining this century ... but, but, but our houses and our 401(k)s were ballooning in value, right? Even smart, proudly rational people engaged in magical thinking, acting as if the new power of the Internet and its New Economy would miraculously make everything copacetic again. We all clapped our hands and believed in fairies.That's not completely accurate. What about the punk rock scene of the 80s and 90s, which was basically a rejection of the spend-cash-to-be-happy mantra? And nary a mention of counter-cultural forces questioning society like the movie Slacker and the Seattle music scene in the early 90s? I'm also a bit confused by the author's slamming of the "new power of the Internet". Certainly, those folks may have been partially responsible for the smaller recession at the beginning of the decade, but it has nothing to do with our current malaise. If the free market wasn't allowed to function in technological development, we'd still be reading Picard Vs. Kirk Usenet posts on alt.nerd.poindexter.trek instead of the awesome time-waster that the internet is today.
So the author is really setting up the reader for an argument in support of centralized power and planning plus a hint of "Obama is Awesome!" which comes on page 3:
But it's also a perfectly apt and gratifying turn of events: candidate Obama positioned himself as a smart, steady character who happened to be black, and the economic emergency that helped ensure his election has pushed the fact of his race and its heavy symbolic freight into the shadows of public consciousness. Once the crises have passed, however, I think we'll rediscover the ramifications, small and large, of the enlightened national turn we made last Nov. 4 and start enjoying the dawn of a new era of racial reconciliation.If there's any entity that's been living beyond its means the past 30 years, it's not your obnoxious yuppie neighbor who went into mourning with the closing of the Sharper Image store, but rather the federal government which has racked up a debt not seen since WWII. That has to do with politicians making ridiculous promises of entitlements and tax credits to get easy votes. Obama has completely ignored our economic reckoning and continues to print more funny money and go on wild spending sprees, so I disagree (FWIW) with the Time article that the Age of Excess is over. But, nevertheless, a very interesting article characterizing the Sub-Prime generation.