Starting a joke


50 years ago,  you would have been chased out of the pub had you painted these scenarios: the US can’t wait to open off-shored manufacturing centers, Gaga as a mermaid on wheelchair, and 90% of the population will shop at Wal-Mart, stocked with 99% Made-in-China merchandise. Dude, in the 60’s, we were living the American Dream.

No one would imagine just in 5 decades that we have debt ceiling; congress woman, shot, survived and stood up to cast her vote; (BL) got taken down while a Nordic Crusader took down people for their opposing view.

Not groovy man, you would say.

Like Austin Powers, you wake up, assuming gas stations still have full-serve (yes, but it’s the homeless man). Don’t you miss the bell and the man in clean Esso overall?

You could start a joke, but the joke was on you.

It doesn’t  take long for someone to ring the alarm bell (Putin called the US consumers “parasites”).

It’s like a line in Neil Young‘s album “I have been to Redwood, I have been to Hollywood…

in search for a heart of gold and I am getting old”.

It takes that long for a generation to process the stages of grief: imperial status right after WWII, to upheavals at home and abroad (assassination of the Kennedy’s brothers and the Diem’s brothers), to Cold War unraveling and Gulf War overstretched. Now, the hard cold reality of a dried credit market (consumer spending registered near zero growth) stands erect like a new Berlin Wall (East where 99 percent of us are living, and West, the other 1%). In Admiral Mullen’s words, “Debt is our greatest security threat.”

You could tell the 60’s Ivy League‘s kids were well-off e.g. bell-bottom pants and Indian-shirts, and all hair. At least, there was a middle class.

On some YouTube clips, you could still detect that the audience “tenue de soiree” to attend Francoise Hardy‘s concerts.(Tous les garcons et les filles): turtle-neck and leather jackets.

Most could afford a trip to Woodstock (which turned out to be free anyway).  And many if not all would take part in binge drinking before, during and after the football games. Senior panic was meant for landing a mate, not a job (now, it’s the opposite).

The future back then was in “plastic” (the Graduate). It was supposed to give rise to companies like 3M , but also, VISA and Master Card (both plastic).

Now, we have Tencent, and Facebook.

Apple’s war chest is larger than the US treasury.

What a joke. Who started it? Dr Evil calls a meeting: “Let’s hold the world hostage, for 2 Million”.

No wonder President Obama had to emphasize that the savings from the newly imposed 54-mile-per- gallon vehicles, would be in the range of 2 Trillion dollars, “with a T.”

50 years is not a long time, but it allows for many changes, exponentially. Don’t blame it on China (or Moore’s Law).

They didn’t even get started until 1979.

It’s a confluence of factors, mostly caused by the rise of the Rest intersecting the decline of the West. The best could happen to our Austin Powers is to step back into the time-machine, hoping for a better reentry point in the multipolar future.

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