The Illusion of Productivity in the Information Age
We rewarded the Wall Street geniuses for risky bets because they were producing great wealth. We bought because it was what this new found abundance allowed us to do. We saw what other's bought and we wanted it. We saw everyone buying homes and said, "we better get one too." Yes, the market supplied these homes... the market supplied these goods... the market provided all of it.
People have not learned how to interact with freedom and abundance. We ate so much our bodies got enormous. Our enormous bodies got all sorts of illnesses and health care costs skyrocketed. We did all of this, as the way we felt we were progressing, while we were destroying ourselves.
Women progressed by having full fledged careers, yet we lost the backbone of our health care that they provided through the community. And our children weren't learning the same health lessons because Mom was no longer focused so much on being the guardian of the families health. She tried - but this made a reality of three full time jobs.
In all of these situations we felt we were gaining something.
The economy stinks right now because the moment we fear for our security we all collectively realized we didn't need any of it. Sure, we like what we have. Right now, we probably have so much of it that we don't need any more and figure we'll wait out the storm.
There was an industrial revolution, which greatly increased productivity and the standard of living of human beings. Then after, "The Roaring 20's" a period of rampant opulence, built on that new found freedom to earn, the great depression.
There was an internet bubble as the kickoff of the information age occurred.
Then we became progressively more and more wrapped in our opulence until the weight of our own credit cards broke our backs. When that couldn't take us any further we sucked the equity out of our homes.
Then we sent all of our money to other countries for oil.
Then the terrorists aimed to bring us down by attrition - the sucking of our resources - the way Russia was brought down, in Afghanistan, by the same people. Does it strike anyone that Russia was just involved in paying off a country we were delivering resources to the war through and now that country won't let us use their military base anymore?
You see - we lived in a bubble - a house built on credit. We felt we were building all of this, but money, or the illusion of money built it. Did you ever hold in your hand a check for $300,000 for your house, or did you sign a paper and trust that it passed between hands?
This money never existed and we spent it like crazy.
We felt we were building.
We were tearing down and being torn down at the same time.
This is a game about the balance of power in the world.
Bush bragged about how powerful we were, showed people too. They said, "This America is scary." And well, it seems many have been trying to pull us down. Russia has aims to be a superpower again. If America is weaker, they will be on par and will be respected as such.
The crazy thing is, if you turn on TV - the advertisements will pull at your emotions. The terrorists. The news people. The leaders.
Until you just don't know what to believe anymore.
And you shut down.
We built ourselves into a deluge of e-mail, phone calls - is that my land line, or my cell - traffic jams, and information overload.
Were we productive in doing so?
Where are we now?
We can all move together at the speed of the 24 x 7 news cycle, the entire country can get post traumatic stress disorder together on a date called 9/11. We can watch it until our brains completely implode.
We can get scared to death of the credit crisis, even if we personally have no crisis, and we can stop spending for reasons that don't fit our own financial picture.
The crazy thing is... now, with a bit less money - it seemed like I heard more stories about people getting it right on Christmas.
Being with their family, knowing they didn't need anything else. Divorces are down because people can't afford their lawyers. We were trading in our spouses too. We forgot how to relate and have a strong family... but, perhaps do more people remember now? As they feel it is every man for himself... except for their family?
Do we now have more of our priorities straight and thus a more fulfilling life - with a life filled with less stuff.
What do we really all have right now?
Part of the problem is... I have 3 computers now... I don't need anymore. All I needed, all along, was love.
Are we smarter now? Does our vulnerability make us real? Are we making better choices than ever?
Is this where we learn struggle that reveals our true character?
What is this?
Is this the opportunity we all needed?
The teenage years of our country, with the President we all wanted to drink a beer with?
Coming to an end with hormonal crashes and catastrophe's that seem to rip the world apart.
Yet wait - we are still here. Life goes on. Perhaps when we learn moderation... balance... saving...
It will go on better from here. With stronger families. A set of values.
This is your choice.
Out from this crisis... as we emerge from this tornado of a mess... what will you come out with?
Will you be stronger when others have floundered?
Who will you be, in what is next?