• Posted: Aug 07, 2010 11:34:43
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Have been listening to a lot of stories this week about persistent unemployment and a new slow down in the U.S. economy. Many many folks sitting idle. Not healthy. But it is interesting to take note of how mood and clarity of thought deteriorates when forced to stagnate. Common advice is to "keep busy". I offered a somewhat similar prescription in the previous post Craft. Yet, so many still haven't a clue as to what would be healthy for them to do during periods of disrupted routine.
Back in our hunter/gatherer days there was likely never a question as to what would be an appropriate activity for the day. But as humans settled into farming and shepherding livestock, and later working in factories and offices, our daily routines changed. Serious disruptions to the normal flow of things also became more common. And no matter how often we prayed to the gods, or how much we spent on disaster insurance, our lives were never again on the completely predictable even keel they once were. It is probably safe to say that disruption inspired frustration, anger, and scapegoating have fueled most of the fights, feuds, and wars in our history. We are not wise thinkers. We react emotionally first and foremost. Critical thinking is an afterthought, if done at all.
One person I listened to this week, who works with the unemployed, commented that our youngest generations are rather enthused about the prospect of having several different careers throughout their lives. They do not relish the thought of settling into an endless routine as previous generations commonly have, but instead thrill to the prospect of beginning and advancing within a freshly challenging societal role every few years. What that says about their ability to accumulate wealth in what has become the traditional manner of buying a car and house, and then building on that nest egg for the remainder of their lives, I'm not sure. But wealth, and hence lifestyle flexibility, can be accumulated via savings and other types of investment. Instead, young folks envision themselves as free to travel, free to stay in motion, free to continue growing and developing. That does sound healthy. It's a different way of thinking that apparently also appeals to folks nearing or in retirement. Many of those folks are liquidating fixed assets, like houses and cars, and reinvesting in elaborate RVs that will allow them to freely travel the country as weather or their mood changes.
Economists currently bemoan the languishing housing market within the U.S. But with more and more folks, young and old, opting for an unfettered mobile lifestyle one wonders if that market will ever see strength again. It also makes you wonder if traditional institutions like schools and local governments will of necessity become not adjuncts and enhancements for people living settled lives, but "perks" subsidized by businesses needing to attract workers, the company town of the early and mid 20th century reborn. There is some indication in places like Alaska, where projects like pipelines and mining operations are being initiated, that the new look of suburbs will be, not winding rows of landscaped multicolored prefab houses, but row upon row of RV hookups.
What interesting times we live in.
Sunday, July 12th, 2009
88.8 mm 421 mm