Casaubon's Book

Is It Getting Good To Us?

If you have to accustom yourself to the end of growth, the Onion reassures us that it won’t be too hard:

63 percent of Americans said they had come to rely upon the familiar sense of dread that came from knowing the country was quickly losing its place as an economic superpower, while 71 percent described finding a kind of tranquility in the steady, predictable cuts to local, state, and federal funding.

In addition, 80 percent reported they had been tightening their belts for so long, the thought of loosening them again after all this time just felt unnatural.

“You get used to sending 50 resum├ęs into the void each day and having them all go unanswered,” said Mary-Lee Jones, 46, of Cleveland, who later called the enduring unlikelihood of ever finding employment “her rock.” “The emotional trauma of not knowing if or when I’ll work again has just become a regular part of my life. Honestly, not living on the knife’s edge of poverty might make me a little anxious.”

The report also found that many take comfort in the dependable stream of ominous fiscal predictions in the media, particularly in seeing, on a regular basis, the weary face of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the cover of major newspapers, accompanied by giant bold letters announcing the dollar’s latest slide.

“Even if the economy did start to make a miraculous recovery, all that would happen is I’d get my hopes up and then, boom, it would collapse again like it always does,” Phoenix-area carpet salesman Mike Nicolette said. “At least now I’m fully aware that the shitty hand I’ve been dealt isn’t going to change for a while. It’s something I can count on, you know?”

“My children have never seen America in good financial times,” Nicolette added. “An upswing now would probably just confuse them, frankly.”

Faced not only with temporary hardship but also the possibility of a fundamentally broken economic system, Stan McGrath of Houston told reporters he was beginning to think long-term.

“A lifetime of barely getting by would be something stable, at least,” said McGrath, a 38-year-old Wal-Mart cashier. “If nothing else, I wouldn’t have to keep myself up at night worrying about whether the American dream had totally abandoned me.”




  1. #1 Alex Besogonov
    August 23, 2011

    “We’ll live in poverty, but not for long” (c) Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

    (though it doesn’t sound as great as in Russian)

  2. #2 Greenpa
    August 24, 2011

    I love the Onion. An impressive operation, that.

  3. #3 Susan
    August 24, 2011

    Holy cow, out of the mouths of babes and fools…though I don’t think the staff at the Onion are fools by any means.

    Funny, I was having a conversation about this with DH just last night – we were talking about the way we’ve been living as if we were poor so that now when we’ve become poor(er) it’s already second nature. It only hurts to sacrifice when it’s INvoluntary. Well, it only hurts a lot when it’s involuntary.

  4. #4 Calum
    August 25, 2011

    Never a truer word spoken in jest…

  5. #5 Cornflower
    August 25, 2011

    Reminds me of an old Andy Capp comic. Andy, a British hard-drinking layabout, is at home when his long-suffering wife, Flo, comes in the door. “Did you get the job?”, he asks. No, but they want me to keep on where I am (at the cleaning job),” Flo replies, beaming. “But that mean’s we’re still poor!” exclaims Andy. Says Flo, “Yes! But thank God, it’s permanent!”

  6. #6 Collin
    August 26, 2011

    I don’t understand what you hope to achieve trying to spread this gloom about the end of money. On the large scale of human history, money has only been the grease on the gears. The real driving force of human progress has been RATIONAL THOUGHT; both for the mental enjoyment, and for the quality-of-life improvements it lets us invent.

    The question the world asks you is what can we gain from a return to a settled lifestyle. Survival? Harmony? That’s not enough. I don’t think I’m the only person who would rather die than enter an age of ignorance. You must realize this, or you wouldn’t have chosen a science site as your soapbox.

    You have an autistic son, and you’ve been at a meeting of autistic children and their parents. You talk about how all the parents have reoriented themselves toward the progress of their autistic children. You also talk about the world economy reorienting itself. This is more than an analogy. This is part of the same phenomenon. Autism is part of the new age, part of the resurgence of rational thought out of the depths of consumerism. I am autistic, and I will not buy a mind-numbing attitude to the world’s problems.

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