Today, I am setting off to take a few hours between things to sit and write a letter. It is something I do every month or so with my particular penpal. It is funny, having a penpal, half the time you have nothing really in common and it takes about a year or two to get past that kind of “let me recount to you what I have done for the past 30 days’ stage and begin to connect. The unusual thing is that despite starting out with nothing in common, you eventual discover that you have quite a bit you share. It is almost like being on a desert island with a stranger. Eventually you have to talk because we all need that kind of human connection.
Oddly enough (well not really), I have been reading a lot of economic theory. I tend to stay away from philosphers who don’t also include a succinct economic plan because I don’t think that you can write about the nature of humanity without including the nature of community and its commerce. It could be a bartering commerce or a monetary one, but like it or not – economy is the proving ground of society. In the same vein, I am equally dismissive of economists who never theorize how their plan would work within the culture of the society. I think I am at the point where I am interested in people with plans, not theories, if you get the difference.
I have read all the major and well known communist, socialist and capitalist theorists. I got all excited at first when I found the darling of the Libertarians, Hayek, only to discover that Hayek got to the point where even he realized his plan was a recipe for disaster and stopped writing or commenting about it. My new one is “Afterschock” by Wiedemer. You might remember him, he had the book that predicted the crash of the housing bubble and the recession. Mind you, those were all things predicted by other economists around the world looking at us, but Wiedemer and his crew were one of the few American voices that were put out there.
It has made me curious, especially Wiedemer’s book and the struggle going on about the debt and budget in Congress just how all these plans really applied to people who were not involved in 401ks, stock portfolios or able to snatch up meaningful amounts of things like – gold. So I started poking around and discovered that over 50% of Americans do not have investments, not even a retirement or 401k. Making the leap to the assumption that they don’t have the disposable income to stock up on bullion is an easy thing to do.
Knowing this, sitting there with the statistics, cast all of these debates about the coming bubble bursts (I agree with Wiedemer that the two bubbles to go next will be the dollar and government debt) in a slightly nasty light. Where are the practical plans for surviving the next bursts for the people who will be effected by it in the majority? Over 50% of Americans will be more radically affected by those bubbles then the housing and stock bubbles. When the dollar bursts (and the debt) the very things that they support (services such as unemployment) that have help so many of that 50% survive this portion of the recession will be severely damaged. Yet there is no one talking about how to help these people survive. It is as if they do not exist and yet, the other 50% seems ignorant of the fact that these are all the people who make daily life possible.
The potential for a catastrophic class divide in 2012-13 (when those bubbles are predicted to burst) is beyond high.
I am pondering this and will talk later about what I think of Aftershock when I am done reading it.
Oddly enough, all of this economic reading is for two reasons. One, it is giving me enormous insight into the character of the Demon of Hope in the poem, the City of Love. Two, as I work on finishing my own manuscript of social theory/plan I am steadfastly poking it with the stick of history to see where my weak spots are.
Sometimes I do feel like I am on a deserted island. And then I pick up my pen and write to my friend, pages and pages of just…speaking of life and wondering aloud how things can be so terrible and so wonderful at the same time.
And then I wait.
I wait for him to write back.
From one island to another.
We sustain each other.
c.2011. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.