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Securing our economic crash helmets

April 4, 2008

A record grocery run: nothing on my list was on sale, but nothing had gone up, either. On my way home, I see a man at a 76 station using a long telescoping pole-tong to take down and replace gas price numbers. It took him about a minute to raise the prices of all three gas categories by 10 cents.

My husband doesn’t email me back right away. He’s probably just busy, but I can’t help where my mind goes: he must be in a partners’ meeting, getting the expected news that business is slow, they need to drop a few attorneys. But it hasn’t happened yet. And my husband will always have work: one of his areas of practice is bankruptcy law.

We were talking last night about why it is that Americans can’t do things anymore. Congress is hearing testimony on record unemployment, but we know of companies that can’t find welders and electricians to hire. People who actually have practical skills, and who can improvise, and who produce things, are at a premium. The unforeseeing young have bought the dotcom line, with all its hooks and sinkers. It’s just one more consequence of the Age of Relativism. Abstraction is more manageable than reality; it’s more fun to produce the things of leisure etherlife than to maintain air conditioning systems. The question is, where will they produce their computer games and trade Second Life assets when the buildings on their glamour skylines no longer provide safe, comfortable, down-to-earth workspace?

Loath as I am to quote Cat Stevens, where will the children  who grow up in condos play? Home foreclosures have made condos the aspiration of the resilient.

But whether Americans work in practical or etheric spheres, by and large they are willing to work and have come to expect what a significant part of the world views as luxuries. But now that significant part of the world laughs as its dollars pole vault over ours, and they produce our luxuries, and we shrivel at what they charge us for the privilege of importing nearly everything we own, and, increasingly, nearly everything we eat.

The blind spot of all liberal politicians is the reality that, in a truly classless society, real money doesn’t change hands. It took a while, but China eventually figured out that paying street cleaners and doctors the same $30 a month resulted not in a classless society, but in filthy streets and bad medicine. Each economic sector keeps the others going, and we need all of them.

Government subsidies boost both rich and poor these days, shifting algorithms to keep the middle class picking up the tab at both ends. But this year we have the Economic Stimulus Plan to coax us into thinking that $600 or $1,200 is something to really dream with, an amount to plan around, some kind of real purchasing power. By the time it gets here, the guy with the pole-tong will have changed his gas prices a few more times.

Rumblings are afoot of a pending truckers’ strike because independent carriers can’t meet their contracts and haul goods for their fuel costs. Almost nothing in the marketplace doesn’t travel at some point by truck. It’s going to take more than hopes and dreams to get us outta here, Chewie.

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3 Comments
  1. April 4, 2008 1:13 pm

    Yeah, we are a long way from a hyperspace button.

    One of the best economic pieces I’ve seen in a long time. And there wasn’t any mention of M3. That’s a blessing on a quiet Friday.

  2. Janet permalink
    April 5, 2008 7:00 pm

    Lauren,

    Alan and I have a friend in Wyoming who saw this coming many years ago. He lives in the mountains of Wyoming in a house he built himself and lives mostly off the elk and deer he bags once a year with his bow, and the income he gets from various critter hides he gleans from his traps. He has the best skiing in the country right outside his front door, and free! He was a degree in Economics. He is a very smart man, but alas, he has everything but Christ.

  3. April 5, 2008 7:38 pm

    That’s really sad. Everything he thinks will bring joy, but really, he has nothing at all. Despite the trends and the “fun” of seeing them play out, we know that God has purposed all for the good of those who love Him–and we are on notice that there will be trials before entering the Kingdom! Inflation is a very bad thing; it comes with the black horse of the Apocalypse. I wonder if the rich will escape, viz, “see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (Rev. 6:6)

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