As the election approaches, and ramping up, the left is going to do their best to talk the economy down and inspire lack of confidence in order to — if they can pull it off — bring about something like the crash in 08, which gives the average uninformed voter the impression that they can do better.
I don’t need to tell any of you that, right? You’ve all seen it. And you know what, they can’t do better. All they have are prescriptions for 100 years ago, and even then the wrong prescriptions. (Unless you think the economy of Soviet Russia was wonderful.)
So, in case you need warning, don’t fall for it:
Unless of course you enjoyed your summers of recovery 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and 8 and are ready for a return of the franchise: Summer of recovery 8, This time it’s malicious!
However, part of …. uh, inoculating against those fears — and preparing for real fears, actually — is to understand what the economy is doing.
The plural of anecdote is not data, but none of us has any good data. The media will report or not report whatever is around them as a way of influencing politics in the right (left for them) direction. They are true believers, brainwashed in J schools. And even if they weren’t, I doubt they could see it.
I see some of it, or at least some of the trends feeding into it, and I agree with some economist who, the other day was complaining the world economy is looking “Weird.” Now in his case I suspect it’s because it refuses to comply with the Marxist “truths” he learned, but that’s another kettle of fish.
So I posted yesterday’s post in various groups full of people whose opinions and experience I trust, and who are a broader reach than my own immediate circle. (Which is about 100 people, all over the country and not particularly uniform, but never mind.)
Before we go into what’s weird, and what things are converging into what can turn out to be a perfect storm of either suckage or uplift, let’s set out what the economy — at least from me, and those I heard from — is NOT.
The economy is NOT uniform.
This should not be a surprise to anyone, right? It never is. In the eighties, as we were scraping, saving, working too much and trying to get a toe hold in our fields, we used to laugh at “The future’s so bright I got to wear shades” because, you know… we weren’t that cock sure. People ten years older than us, OTOH they seemed to have it made. It was probably not universal either. Yes, some fields and niches and age groups are doing very badly.
The economy is NOT tanking
Well, it’s not tanking right now. No, I don’t base this on the stock market, but on the fact that almost everyone I know who was unemployed (sometimes for four or five years) now has a job. Sometimes not their ideal job, but in a surprising number of cases, their ideal job.
Also things that were selling at deep discount even last Christmas are full price now. Which sucks for us bargain shoppers, but it’s a sure sign the merchants aren’t desperate.
The economy — as it is now — is NOT something that government can improve.
It can be argued that government can never improve any economy, but that’s not true. Government can undo the mess government made. In this case, that involves Obama standing astride the economy hitting it with a bag of money (in the form of “stymulus”) but also lovely ideas like not allowing fracking, piling on onerous regulations of all kinds, all the time (yes, sure, Obamacare, but also insane bullshit like requirements for energy and water use for various appliances, with built in instructions that they have to reduce more every year.)
Note that every democrat running for president is intending to stop fracking, and also that both Saudi and Russian money are financing campaigns against fracking. Just in case you wondered what all the collusion BS was. These people project more than an IMAX.
So, how are we doing?
We’re flying by instruments in heavy fog, is how and what we’re doing, since our institutions and the people who are supposed to know how to analyze trends have betrayed us in the name of their shiny socialist would-be paradise.
Here’s the thing though: analyzing trends and hypothesizing their effects is part of what I do in writing.
Future casting is not a science. I was talking to friends yesterday and noted that simply extending our life with so everyone is pretty sure of living to 100 and being functional and basically “early adulthood” level to 90 would turn society upside down, sideways, and make it sing like a cricket. What it would do to morals, manners and economics is impossible to fully forecast.
No, I didn’t say difficult. I said impossible. Take for instance that now very old invention, the contraceptive pill. Not only have we not stopped working through the secondary and tertiary effects of it, I doubt we’re much past the early primary effects of it.
I also very much doubt anyone fully saw how it would play out when it was first released.
Or take the car, and the effect it had on our polity. States, as sovereign entities used to have far more meaning when we were less mobile. It also apparently destroyed the mode and manners of courting. (I’m not sure of that one. I wasn’t around to observe.)
And the computer… well, the computer and its secondary and tertiary — and yeah, its primary — effects are part of what’s making everything unpredictable.
Most of us are reading this on computers, or cell phones which are as powerful as computers were 30 years ago.
And if you’ve been alive that long, you know 30 years ago the computers were almost curiosities, used for various things — husband’s early work was writing software for banking — at work, but practically not affecting our daily life. Our daily life would have been completely intelligible to our grandparents. Sure our phones had push buttons, and our cars had catalytic converters, but they did more or less exactly what their phones and cars did, and behaved in the same way.
I was telling the kids the other day that Dan and I had our life-hacks down pat for the 80s. Move into a new city? Secure a phone book and a map. Drive around identifying all the things you’re going to need. Want to find a club in your interest areas? (For us mostly writers’ groups.) Call the library and ask them. Oh, yeah, and subscribe to two or three papers (in Colorado Springs, we subscribed to the Gazette, the Denver Post, and the Wall Street Journal) so you know what’s going on in the country and the world. Also, subscribe to various magazines in fields of interest, and keep them all, so you can reference stuff you read six years ago, if you need to put it in a story.
Mind you, I wrote on a computer from the second year of our marriage, but the memory was so small I had to store individual chapters separately. And we could — sort of — connect to the internet from the early 90s, but there was nowhere to go unless you went in with one of the services like aol.
It wasn’t till the mid nineties that I discovered the austen fanfic group and various “weblogs.” By then I knew how to search to research stuff (mostly with Altavista) and we had an unmetered internet connection.
Because we’re down-grade consumers of almost everything and rarely jump on new tech (the exception being the Kindle Oasis, because I use it SO MUCH) it took us a while to get a GPS. We still have it separate from the phone because I’m hard of hearing and the car is old and won’t connect to the speakers from the phone.
And then things changed. First slowly, then very fast. All of a sudden, my social life moved MOSTLY online. Sometimes things changed so fast I didn’t realize they had changed.
For instance when we moved from the last house, our attic was FULL of books. We ended up donating 4k books, most of them weird reference things. For many years, I had made it a practice of buying tourist guides to places I’d never been and never intended to be, and histories of weird things “The history of chess in the 20th century” say. Why?
Well, there was a method to my madness. in 2003 when I found myself without novel work, I made enough money to keep us afloat from doing short stories. My two advantages for people who found themselves with a hole in their anthology were that I could write very fast and I could follow any theme, just about.
Those books were invaluable.
But here’s the thing: at the level that goes into a short story? I don’t need those books. If I need to find out who won a certain chess match in 71, I look it up at line with the names of the players. (Also publishing has changed, but that’s something else.)
Those books, had the web never come to fruition, would have followed us from house to house, and our housing arrangements would have to take them into account.
But they weren’t needed, so I offloaded them. (Not ALL the reference books, okay? If they are things in which I’m genuinely interested and which might fuel novels, I kept them. other things I kept are the writer’s guide to (they’re a good first pass at a time period) x time, and the more scholarly version of that aimed at historians (I can’t remember the name of the press? Greenwood? The titles are Daily Life in x. No longer published, and house went under.) And then a good smattering about each period from Ancient Greece to Present. Yes, I’ve read them all at some time. No, I don’t remember them in detail. Yes, I continue to buy new ones. Ye– Well, maybe they’ll come in handy some day. But that’s more for novels, and deep-immersion research.)
And an interesting thing happened while we were offloading them. About six/seven years ago, I identified all the books I could live without, and started selling them on Amazon. The first six months we made a respectable income. It was work, mind you, because I had to keep track of orders, etc, but we were making a decentish income.
… then it stopped. It didn’t taper off. It wasn’t a case of having sold the more desirable books (we were selling by how we could get to them, so no particular category) but it just stopped. Oh, okay, not totally but suddenly we were making maybe $20 a month. Which is when you get into territory where it’s easy to forget you sold it, or remember to ship it or whatever. So I closed off the business, and started donating.
4k is a low estimate, but it’s the number I actually remembered to record.
Why didn’t I take them to a bookstore and sell them? Because by the time it got to that the used bookstores were either demanding absolutely perfect books, or straight out picking two books out of the mass you brought in. And those would be collectible and autographed. And they’d give you a token payment or token credit.
The bottom had fallen out. It remains fallen out. Paper books just aren’t selling. Not like they used to. Sometimes not at all.
Sure, I can sell my books, autographed. But the ones I have on paper on Amazon? They don’t move. The ratio of 1 paper book per 100 ebooks is unbreakable across all indie authors I know. The only ones making a lot of money on paper are those who go to conventions, do a big thing, autograph and move the books. And even then, it’s often a mixed bag. (In my case, I’m convinced for indie books hearing me speak will make fewer people buy. It’s different with traditional, because they know someone else vetted it.)
Anyway, this post is getting massive, and I’m not writing a book in one post. I’m going to list the trends hitting the economy, and then tomorrow we’ll do “What does this mean” for some of them at least. This should explain why there are eddies like the one Leigh identified (though that has other trends, within the field) and then discuss how to cope with this entire mess and thrive.
The goal is to come through this physically and economically sound and have a say in building the future. Remember that. Even if sometimes we get tired of jumping with the change and it would be much easier to give up.
Okay, some of the things influencing the economy, things no government can alter or ease (though they can make us all massively less prosperous.)
- The median age in the US in 2018 was 38.9 and frankly I think that’s optimistic, since we too tend to inflate the size of our population, by counting uncountables, etc. (and heaven only knows what age they assign them.)
We aren’t as senescent as some European countries, but the balance of the population is towards older. Specifically, our old people far outnumber our young people. We keep complaining about how some fandom or some church or some hobby is “full of grey heads” but take a deep breath? How often have you found a group that isn’t? Unless you teach school, probably not often. Even on college campuses people look more… ah… mature than when I was in college.
Most young people spent the last 8 years either struggling to find work or accumulating truly spectacular amounts of student loan debt, which around 2008 was made “impossible to discharge in bankruptcy” (Which should make you wonder a lot of things.) Meaning that economically our young people are disproportionately “poor.”
- Information, entertainment and knowledge has become almost unimaginably accessible and free compared to even a dozen years ago. It’s also become almost exclusively “intangible” and not attached to a physical object.
- The technology revolution we’re in the middle of is a “Catastrophic innovation event.” Why catastrophic? Because it rips apart established structures and ways of doing things that have always worked. And some of the innovations are themselves short lived. Look, 30 years ago VCRs were the way of the future. Then it was CDs and DVDs. Yeah.
We’re quick to embrace the convenience, but at the other end of that innovation a lot of those industries are getting hit hard and in ways and timetables that are hard to predict.
- Our press and most of our bureaucracy are the result of the Marxist long march through the institutions. This means that most of the time they don’t report facts, they try to stampede us in their desired direction.
It also means some states are now openly and bizarrely against letting individuals make a living. California is a good example. But others aren’t far behind, probably including mine, if we let them get away with it.
All of this adds up to a mess, and if you can’t see it, I’ll explain at least some of it tomorrow.
I KNOW I’ve done 6k word posts before, but not right now. I have a novel to finish. So, more tomorrow.