Monday, December 15, 2008

living in a deleveraged world -- a rant

I keep being surprised by people I know and like talking as though pretty soon the world will be back to normal--that's it's time, say, to borrow heavily and invest in real estate again.

It isn't. The world won't be back to normal.

The world will never go back to the way it was. The world has fundamentally changed. For example, for the next few years, at least, when you buy a house you'll be buying it to live in. Period. Not as a leveraged investment. Super leverage is dead. It's unsustainable. I'm not talking about the credit crunch; that's just a symptom. Ah, fuck it, look, let Robert Reich explain some of it to you.

No, I'm not exaggerating. No, I'm not being alarmist. And, no, there's no need for panic.

The model we've build our society on--the continual expansion, constant finding/settling/using/abusing of the frontier, then moving on--will change. It is changing. It has changed. Only most of us don't know it yet.

The solution? I don't know. Yet. But, please, people, stop thinking along the old, rutted tracks. Take a breahth. Really think. Really look at your lives.

What will count are the really important things: community, education, fresh air, food, water, warmth, shelter, joy, beauty. At some point, the governments of the world will figure out they have to stop dodging the issue and look at food and farming, at power and sustainability, at slack in the system and building in redundancy (power, water supply, education, manufacture--everything). They are going to figure out that the industrialised world has been mad and must now get sane or die. Take, for example, climate. It doesn't matter about the exactness of the climate models; everyone agrees we have to cut emissions more than anyone wants to or even believes is possible or we're all going to die. Well, not us, exactly, but civilisation. It's that simple. Most of our great-great grandchildren won't exist unless someone, somewhere does something. That is, unless, everyone, everywhere, does everything they can. And much more than we want. And very soon.

Everything will cost more. We will buy less, use less, eat less, waste less. And, you know what? It will be fine. Just not as thoughtless and greedy and, y'know, convenient as before.

For now, please. Stop. Take a look around. Stop trying to win. Start co-operating.

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