The Great Irish Potato Famine of 2010 | Main | Ye Olde Opyne Threadde
June 19, 2010

A Needed Corrective

I met an old friend for lunch a few days back. I hadn't seen this friend in a couple of years, and it was grand catch up with him, learning about his wife and kids and career. It's always a pleasure to re-establish links with old friends. My friend used to work in the banking industry, though he doesn't any more, and so the talk over lunch turned to the financial straits we and the rest of the world find ourselves in.

As we were leaving, my friend said, "You know, ten years ago this kind of talk would have bored the shit out of you. You never seemed to give a damn about money in any larger sense. Now look at you! Mr. Gloom! You really don't think things are that bad,do you?"

I passed the comment off with a shrug and a laugh as I paid the bill. I didn't want to spoil the reunion by going into full sturm und drang mode. But his question gnawed at me a little bit, and made me wonder: do I really think we are doomed? Am I focusing on the bad news and ignoring or downplaying the good? Have I let my dislike of the Obama Administration infect my view of the economy as well? My God, have I become one of those people? The eternal doom-crier, the wet blanket, the perma-bear, the sour cynical old cuss with never a good word?

Dear God, I hope not. The world is beautiful as well as terrible. Focusing on the bad to the point of ignoring the good is a grievous character flaw. People like that often take a perverse pleasure in being angry and gloomy. One gets the sense sometimes that they actually wish for the crash to come, if only to be proven right.

Our government is being run by colossally incompetent people, but this is hardly a new development. Incompetents, as usual, have created problems that have redounded to everyone's misfortune. Hubris has been brought low by Nemesis, as it always is, and we are all sharing in the punishment.

So this post is meant mainly as a corrective, and a reminder not to let ourselves be too beaten down by bad news. I am one of those tedious wingnuts who believes that Americans are indeed a special breed -- that there is a storehouse of strength and purpose in us that will survive the stupidity and perfidy so apparent in our institutions: government, business, education. Our national character is such that we wait for a problem to reach a crisis before we act decisively, but that once we act, we prevail.

I do believe that we face a highly uncertain financial future. We -- not just Americans, but the entire developed world -- have been living a dream of false wealth and prosperity. Waking up from that dream is not going to be pretty, and will require all of us to accept many years of sacrifice and reduced circumstances. There is no other way. We really don't have a choice in the matter, and if we keep delaying the day of reckoning the ultimate price will only be higher. Paying the price of our profligacy will never be any cheaper than it is right now.

So our future is a long and thankless chain of toil and reduced circumstances, then? Is this what we have to look forward to? some ways, I suppose the answer is yes. But this viewpoint is needlessly pessimistic. We will continue as we always have to live our lives, to marry and raise children, to read books and listen to music and enjoy the company of friends. This is what life is. We work to live, not the other way around.

Beauty and wonderfulness exist, and will continue to exist, come what may. Life is always worth living, and enjoying. If it is human nature to be venal and weak, then it is also human nature to strive, to achieve, and to persist. Future history is not written; it is dependent on the choices we make along the way. We choose.

Always prepare for the worst. A person who ignores danger is not long for the world. But don't let the bad blind you to the beauty of the world. (I will be back to my gloomy self on Monday, however, so no need to fear that I have been transformed into Deepak Chopra.)

digg this
posted by Monty at 10:05 AM

| Access Comments

Recent Comments
JT: "hello ? ..."

Forgot My Nic [/i]: " [i]Nice! Redskins stranded in locker room overni ..."

Bruce: "Hmm. With all this google tracking crap, I go to m ..."

Mr. Peebles: ""The Philadelphia Police Department released a sta ..."

Nevergiveup: "Morning all Finally got sleep last night after ..."

Forgot My Nic [/i]: "[i]The disaster and its aftermath provide a test f ..."

Hadrian the Seventh: " [i]I get to see the Blood-borne Pathogens traini ..."

IrishEi: "Nice! Redskins stranded in locker room overnight ..."

t-bird: "Kasich: [i]"... if I'm helping people to realize t ..."

Nunya Bidness: "No wonder Muldoon wants Omarosa. She has demonstra ..."

The Great White Scotsman: "I see the green flash on clear mornings in Kansas. ..."

NaCly Dog[/i][/b][/s]: "Early morning of mandatory fun. In-service back t ..."

Recent Entries

Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64