Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Obama's Patriotism Speech (and the Call to Shop)

I need to be working on my slides and lab exercises for a course I'm going to be teaching later this month but text of Obama's patriotism speech is worth checking out.

Sadly, in recent years, in the midst of war on two fronts, this call to service never came. After 9/11, we were asked to shop. The wealthiest among us saw their tax obligations decline, even as the costs of war continued to mount. Rather than work together to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and thereby lessen our vulnerability to a volatile region, our energy policy remained unchanged, and our oil dependence only grew.
On Sunday, as I was wandering the newly-discovered Sprawl in East Frederick, near the intersection of I-270 and I-70 I was thinking about the last 20 years and what had changed (funny how you only notice the changes when you leave a place) and I was thinking about Bush's call to shop after 9/11 and the growth in buying power (and debt) and decline of savings that occurred in the 90s. That still continues.

As I was entering (and exiting, having not purchased anything) the Best Buy, I thought about 1987, when I moved to Frederick, or even when we lived north of Baltimore in the early 80s. There was no Best Buy. For electronics (in the age of Atari and Commodore) you went to Service Merchandise. Where have they gone? There was no Fry's. There was no huge Walmart full of amazing cheap stuff from China. When did Whole Foods come about. This is the gift of Clinton. The excesses of growth.

In 1999 we bought our first house in Crestview (that's in a hip part of Central Austin where prices are still skyrocketing and is no longer the last affordable place inside 183) on the first day we saw it, the downpayment coming from Trident stock options from the Veridian acquisition. From 1994 to 2004 my yearly compensation increased almost 6-fold (I started low, as a public school teacher in Texas and there were some good bonus/stock option years after the "100 year flood") but in 2008 what do we Americans have to show for this prosperity?

In this so-called recession, this "crisis," (as I drive down I-70 I year ads for Information Assurance programs and CDW-G security solutions spiels, there is no crisis in my line of work) I'm amazed the parking lots of the big box stores are still packed full. Is this one last binge? Forget about Reagan's line about 4 years, are we really better off than 10 years ago? 20? What is the cost? For some reason, it is not hard to imagine the big box parking lots of the suburbs like Route 85 in Frederick, 183 near Cedar Park, or 1604 in San Antonio like in the The Road (not Kerouac) emptied in 50 or 100 years. The pace of the beloved 90s (all those Clinton-lovers) is simply not sustainable. Your losses cancel out your gains. Everything catches up with you sometime.

No comments: