Maybe all the bitching about the ephemeral economy is justified. And the death of non-virtual (real) stuff, that is, manufactured stuff that absorbs lots of jobs, is a fact-of-life.
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal (I think—four consecutive midnights in the air, remember) reported the amazing and wildly increased share of our gross domestic profits that come from financial services. Today’s Financial Times comments on new cars, labeled by the headline writer “a shiny new software appmobile.” The author, Chris Nuttall, reports “a new iPhone app from Ahamobile allowing drivers to record ‘Caraoke’ [sic] singalongs to the car radio and post them straight to their Facebook page.”
Dear God—that’s, in effect, Mr. Nuttall’s response as well.
I read awhile back an analysis that suggests that our “age of abundance” only dates back perhaps 40 years. That is, in the OECD nations at least, we’ve pretty much all got all the stuff we need and are “reduced” to consuming non-necessities. Maybe that’s it, an economy that produces mainly, mostly, almost totally ephemeral things we don’t need. Hence huge amounts are spent on healthcare (with not much improvement in health), financial services scarfs up huge bucks for, often, doing absolutely nothing (derivatives of derivatives of derivatives) and “high tech” that lets us “record ‘Caraoke’ singalongs to the car radio and post them straight to their Facebook page.”
Think about it.
(NB1: When I landed in Boston at about 1:00 a.m. yesterday, literally, at 1:00 a.m., all 9 people I could see were checking their email within 30 seconds of wheels-on-the-tarmac. [Yes, no kidding, 9 for 9—and me feeling bad because I wasn’t.] I’m right, right: Talk about the absolutely-totally-completely un-necessary! Age of Abundance indeed!)
(NB 2: A friend had prostate surgery recently, a bright and technologically brilliant guy. He went on and on about the robotic surgery he’d decided upon. Statistically minimal side effects, etc. Well, yesterday’s Boston Globe reported a new study from the Harvard Med School concluding that nasty side effects from the robotic procedure are twice as prevalent as side effects from old-fashioned knife stuff. One more time our medical profession’s passionate love affair with very sexy stuff scores. This time, incontinence and impotence are the winning lottery ticket.)