Roger L. Simon

Are we spinning out of control?

I don’t want to be a Cassandra – and nobody ever believed my predictions anyway, nor should they – but for the first time in my life I have the sensation that things are spinning our of control. It’s not just domestically, where Mort Zuckerman’s column puts a fine point on just how bad things are with our economy (16.5% really unemployed in his calculation), but globally where no one seems to have the slightest idea what to do about North Korea or Iran. There is no consensus for anything. We live in entropy – in its fourth definition on Dictionary.com: a doctrine of inevitable social decline and degeneration.

At least that’s the gloomy way I am feeling today. Of course I could look on the bright side, so why not? For years the French were making fun of us workaholic Americans. Why did we have this forty hour week? Well, we don’t anymore. Companies all over the country (see Zuckerman again) are cutting back their working weeks so they don’t have to lay people off. Maybe we will see a revival of families with the declining divorce rate. From the WSJ:

It’s still unclear how the recession is affecting divorce rates overall, because of lags in government data. But courts in some major population centers say fewer people have been filing for divorce since the downturn began in late 2007. In New York County 9,349 couples filed for divorce in the first four months of 2009, off 14% from 10,848 in the same period in prerecessionary 2007, according to records from New York State Unified Court System.

In Los Angeles County, divorce filings in the first four months of this year dropped 3%, to 9,048, from the same period last year and are down 9% from the comparable span in 2007, according to records from the Los Angeles Superior Court.

A lull in divorce could be a silver lining in the recession, says Steve Grissom, president of Church Initiative, a Wake Forest, N.C., organization that runs DivorceCare, a national support group. Mr. Grissom says couples who postpone splits may be able to work through problems and reconcile.

Possible sit-com?