It has been difficult for me to really pinpoint why we Americans are in the position we find ourselves. I do believe that we have been living “high on the hog” as the saying goes. We have been conspicuous consumers; I remember from college class
a book by Thorstein Veblein The Theory of the Leisure Class.. He wrote about conspicuous consumption and how we use these excesses to show the
world how successful we are. We have been the big consumers on the planet and believed, I think, that we would always get the lion’s share of the world’s goods. That was before the middle class and upper middle class began to emerge in other countries: India, Mexico and China. That is notTo say that all the people who live in those countries are now consuming goods at the same rate we Americans are. but many are. We are in competition for commodities from food to oil to metals essential formanufacturing. We will look back on the time before this as “ the good ole days”/ We will learn to live smaller lives with smaller houses; we will budget for food that will be a much larger percentage of our income than in the past. At the beginning of the twentieth century people spent approximately 45% of their income on food. We will simplify our lives out of necessity and along the way wemight even find that simplifying life with fewer possessions and less discretionary spending will actually make our lives more meaningful. But the emerging middle class in other countries and the competition for goods doesn’t fully explain how we got here. We got here I believe because of greed. Certainly you can say it is true that we are the greedy ones who have spent beyond our means, lived beyond our means on credit, and whosegreed for what we want has had to be satisfied immediately. No delayed gratification or saving until we could afford it. But the greed that bothers me even more is the greed of the business world, of its leaders and an unholy alliance of business leaders, politicians and the military. Surely not everyone in those fields falls in this category. I do believe it is an alliance thatis international but its leaders for the most part are self made men and perhaps women. Enron was one example of where corporate greed took us.We have seen lobbyists going to jail for breaking the rules; we have seen obscenely high wages paid to CEO’s while the stockholders of those companies were left holding the bag. We have seen retirement savings wiped out by a lack of transparency on the part of businesses and we have seen that a triple rating for a company is not to believed. It is something that can be purchased. We are in a war that makes no sense. We cozy up to the Saudis for oil and invade Iraq. Yet the majority of those involved in 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia. We know that schools in Saudi Arabia preach hate America propaganda. Many of those who cheered our soldiers when we marched into Baghdad today are our enemies. We have seen corruption and greed of unbelievable proportions. When the tech bubble burst lenders became very imaginative and came up with loans that netted them profits upfrontbut were given to people they knew would never be able toCarry out the mortgage agreements. Now that credit crunch with its foreclosures has led to a glut of homes on the market and a dramatic drop in the greatest source of wealth that most people have; their homes.I interviewed Ravi Batra who has written a book that is quite different than the other “takes” on our inflationary recession. The book is The New Golden Age The coming Revolution against Politic al Corruption and Economic Chaos. He believes that the world’s economiesare best explained in cycles, cycles that have repeated themselves over and over in history. No one cycle is bad but after it reaches its apex and begins to decline we see the worst effects. He believes that we are coming to the end of the acquisition cycle. This is a must read. Remember when what was good for business was good for the worker because the wealth trickled down. Hence, anything that helped businesses flourish eventually helped those of us at the bottom. Businesses needed good workers right?You know the answer to that. It is that run away greed Ravi Batra believes that spells the end of one cycle. the cycle of acquisition and the beginning of a warrior cycle. No, a warrior cycle does not mean going to war. This is a book that will make you think and make you ponder about what is ahead.I firmly believe that when we have a handle of where we have been, where we are and where we are headed that we can protect ourselves and be prepared for a world of different values, many of the values, by the way, that our parents and grandparents held and which have been missing from the American scene for decades.