Securing our economic crash helmets
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.