Saturday, October 11, 2008

A silver lining to the cloud?

Are you a glass-is-half-full kind of gal? For a humorous spin on the imminent gloom surrounding our economy and wallets, Slate Magazine has compiled all the good news they could find within the coming depression. Bad financial news is good news for:

Public schools. Feeling the pinch, the upper-middle class is moving their children from private schools to public schools. This influx of achieving-class families, reporters will find, may improve schools from the inside (better students overall) and the outside (the result of pesky, well-connected parents hounding administrators and teachers).

Climate change. According to a government study, carbon dioxide emissions fall whenever energy consumption declines. Our freezing will be the planet's salvation.

Foreign policy. In the good old days, the United States got in lots of trouble by invading first and asking questions later. Now we couldn't afford to invade Grenada if we had to.

Economic equality. Financial sector employees received the greatest income gains in recent years. Now, the broker your broker gets, the more equal we all become.

Homegrown. Food. Music. Crafts. Education. Solar panels. Suture-yourself kits sold at pharmacies.

Children. The moral fiber of the nation's children went to rot because we gave them everything they asked for. Now that we've got nothing, they get nothing, and they've never been richer.

Churches and community organizations. Trendspotters will detect a massive return to faith and the commonweal.

Air flight. The average Joe won't be able to afford to fly much any more, but when he does, the terminals will be less crowded, the service better, and lost luggage a thing of the past.

Local business. You know, the little mom-and-pop banks that never went subprime and that know you and your family. The return of the neighborhood hardware store, the neighborhood drug store, the neighborhood bakery, the neighborhood fix-it shop, and so on.

The trade deficit. We buy almost nothing from foreigners, we sell almost nothing to them. Finally, we reach a perfect balance.

Cell phone haters. As the cell phone becomes unaffordable, people ditch them. Road rage declines as drivers learn to stay in their own lane and maintain speed because they're no longer texting. Public spaces become more pleasant as the background chatter ceases.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Vegetables. Having won the meat-is-murder debate because beef and chicken are now too expensive to market, animal rights activists move on to protect lima beans, celery, and turnips.

Staycations. More fun than August in France!

Used cars. Cheaper for one thing, and gosh, Detroit stopped making new ones!

"Cheap chic." Washington Monthly founder Charles Peters once imagined that a societal shift from high-status goods, clothing, restaurants jobs, schools, cars, and vacations to the utilitarian, flavorless, gimcrack, and rag-tag of "cheap chic" would remove anxiety and competition from modern life. That the cutthroat competition for status would only resurface in a battle for government power and result in the reinvention of gulag never occurred to Peters. Even so, journalists will fill newspapers with stories about people who regard their new poverty as ennobling. []


Anonymous said...

Right except for one crucial point: when the society in general gets poorer the rich get richer - that is, the rich that don't go broke.

During the Great Depression the big wigs actually got richer b/c they bought up everything at very low cost. Chase will make out like a bandit b/c of this crisis b/c they can buy up smaller failed banks (which they have already done). The big companies will buy up the failing small ones as they go out of business and the rich will get richer even as they get a little smaller but the middle class will fall off their precarious ledge into the lower class.

The largest misnomer is that the "middle" class is actually in the middle of the economic continuum. If the rich equal 100 and the poor equal 10 then the middle class represents aout 20 (not 50) in terms of wealth. The middle class is the largest but the wealth is mostly concentrated at the top. The middle class is very fragile and they know it.

kokostiletto said...

wow i never thought about these things !

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