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Works and Days

Brave New World

February 19th, 2013 - 12:09 am

The Revolutions We Missed

Sometimes societies just plod along, oblivious that the world is being reinvented right under their noses. In 2000, one never saw pedestrians bumping into themselves as they glued their noses to iPhones. Thirteen years later, it is almost rare to see anyone on the street who is not stumbling about, networking or texting. Yet most of us are scarcely aware of the collective effect of that odd habit repeating itself millions of times over each day, of millions of books not read, of “hellos” not offered, of brains wired to screens rather than the physical world about them. When cars once drifted into your lane, you assumed a DUI; now their drivers are most likely texting.

Cars, of course, look about the same as they did thirty years ago. But we just assume now that they almost never break down. Up until 1980 I used to see them with hoods up by the side of the road almost every five miles or so. Today, entire notions such as points, plugs, tune-ups, and carburetors have simply quietly passed away for most motorists. The old jalopy with 100,000 miles on it was junk; the new Accord with 150,000 miles has another easy 250,000 to go. The world changes while we snore.

Lazy Money

No wonder, then, most of us are still not quite aware of how vastly different the world of 2013 is from even 2008. Take interest: not long ago most Americans assumed that when they retired, their 5-7% interest rate on passbook savings would provide some sort of income. Not now. There is scarcely a 1% return. In fact, most accounts lose money. The interest is not even matching the rate of inflation. Will we soon be charged by the banks for “protecting” our deposits?

At some unspoken moment, we shrugged and silently accepted Ben Bernanke’s world, along with the thousands of ways that his Federal Reserve Board has radically changed our lives. Those at retirement age are not stepping down, not when they have a bad/worse choice of receiving no interest income or putting their life savings in the stock or bond market. Our fathers may have retired at 58; we will be lucky to quit at 70. Is there even such a thing as retirement anymore?

No wonder that unemployed young people are endlessly circling the airport with nowhere to land, given all of us old planes perpetually taxing around on the crowded runways below. To understand the effect of no, or very low, interest, think of the billions of dollars in cash that are silently transferred from those who have saved to those who have no cash. The former receive little or no interest from the banks. The latter take out mortgages or car loans at historically low interest rates.

Did the president ever mention this revolution, among his boilerplate of “millionaires and billionaires,” “pay your fair share,” and “fat cats”?

Does it really make all that much difference whether you are a doctor at 70 who religiously put away $1,000 a month for thirty years, compounded at the old interest, and planned to retire on the interest income, or a cashless state employee with a defined benefit pension plan? The one might have over $1 million in his savings account, but the other a bigger and less risky monthly payout. Suddenly the old adult advice to our children — “Save and put your money in the bank to receive interest” —  is what? “Spend it now or borrow as much as you can at cheap interest”?

Them and Us

I think it was around 2009 when an entire new vocabulary entered the American popular lexicon. Where did the 1% versus the 99% come from? From where did the new financial Mason-Dixon line arise — good below $250,000 in annual family income, very bad above it? When did the 47% — or is it the 50%? — pay no federal income taxes?

At some magical point, the rich became not the successful, the skilled, the well-inherited, the lucky, or the hardworking, but “them”:  the suspect, the damned even, even as the lifestyles of the rich and famous became ever more sought after.

There are not just the rich and poor any more, but now the “good rich” (e.g., athletes, rappers, Hollywood stars, Silicon Valley grandees, Democratic senators, liberal philanthropists, etc.) and the “bad rich” (e.g., oil companies, CEOs, doctors, the Koch brothers, etc.). The correct-thinking nomenklatura and the dutiful apparat versus the kulaks and enemies of the people.

The president in his State of the Union damns the “billionaires with high-powered accountants,” as a friendly Facebook pays no state or federal taxes, as a George Soros walks away with $1.2 billion in speculation profits (in three months, no less!) by betting against the Japanese yen, and as a Jesse Jackson, Jr. gets caught stealing from a campaign fund to buy a $43,000 Rolex (was not a $1,000 one enough?). I thought Soros at his age knew when he had made enough money?

We shrug at all this. A president who thunders to the nation that we must be on guard against the “well-off and well-connected” heads south to Palm Beach to meet his $1,000-an-hour golf pro, while Michelle and the family go west to hit the slopes at “downright mean” Aspen, where no one accepts that they’ve reached a point where they’ve made enough money, or that there was any time when it was not good to profit.

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Top Rated Comments   
Not all of us were oblivious to the revolutions and to the poison that has been gradually, but ceaselessly introduced into our culture rendering it antagonistic to the American ethos that transformed 13 Colonies into a Super Power and nation unprecedented in the history of mankind. Not all of us were silent while our hollow elected representatives' stood idly by while our federal government and institutions were besieged by the filth that are the forces of progressive collectivism - some of us watched this agonizingly systematic destruction of our republic only then to see it replaced by the arbitrary decree of elitist politicians and un-elected bureaucrats.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Today, entire notions such as points, plugs, tune-ups, and carburetors have simply quietly passed away for most motorists."

We don't have the right to repair in some places. Even Apple is gluing their products shut. We could soon be like crashed starship survivors worshiping tools that break.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Did my comment get lost? That actually took some time to create.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (50)
All Comments   (50)
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Gotta love all those TV commercials!!!!

I don't owe the IRS over $10,000 that I don't want to pay.
I don't want to scam S/S by claiming I'm "disabled".
I don't have melothesoma, or any other maladay that might be worth millions to some shyster lawyer.
I don't want to skip out on my credit card debt.


The amount of advertising for these "services" seems to indicate that there a pretty large number of people in this fair land who have no moral compass when it comes to feathering their nest by any means necessary.

Our constitution is meant only for a moral and religious people and is wholly inadequate to govern any other. John Adams.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Alinsky tactics+Soros' money+Media compliance+Obama as frontman.
(Who can add to the list?)
What part is the UN playing in this nightmare?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You certainly hit the nail on the head with this article Mr. Hanson. Reading the comments, it amazes me there still are those who think the only way for the Federal government to raise money is to raise taxes. Creating an environment for more production just isn't in the lefty playbook. Having to deal with reality is truly the only answer and it's not going to be pretty.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Please space out the feedback links. I went to click on "Like" and accidentally reported someone. :(
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All too true. And I know far too many people who are content to let it happen around them, without even a whimper, without even permitting a whisper of the reality of today's political world to pass their ears. As long as they have their workaday life, and their tv at night, they are a-ok. Even when their worlds get rocked by something external, they refuse to open their eyes: they are too pious, or too bored, or whatever, to care.

A quote from a novel I read once: "The silent ones in a nation are always a dictator's most useful subjects."

I have to agree.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The last few months have been a slow, tortuous mourning period for me. Don't even want to hang the flag anymore.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
True patriotism isn't about who is in the white house. It is a love of your fellow countrymen and women, and a deep concern and care for their well-being. It is about a love and respect for the land.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ah, gee, thanks for the instruction. The country's going to hell in a handbasket. I don't care anymore. You can do my share of the caring, ok? Dig deep in your pockets, it's going to cost you a lot.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How in heck did all this happen?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not all of us were oblivious to the revolutions and to the poison that has been gradually, but ceaselessly introduced into our culture rendering it antagonistic to the American ethos that transformed 13 Colonies into a Super Power and nation unprecedented in the history of mankind. Not all of us were silent while our hollow elected representatives' stood idly by while our federal government and institutions were besieged by the filth that are the forces of progressive collectivism - some of us watched this agonizingly systematic destruction of our republic only then to see it replaced by the arbitrary decree of elitist politicians and un-elected bureaucrats.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
NUDGE
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well said VDH!

This article pretty well sums up how Obamanomics has shafted the Baby Boom generation. It's scary to think that Obama has shafted Gens X & Y even worse and those poor kids don't have a clue how badly this Administration has stuck it to them.

Again, VDH, well said.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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