Monday, January 4, 2010

The Great Recession: Transitioning

The Great Recession is destined to influence our future in many ways. Some predict it will postpone the creative contributions of a new generation of workers because young people will delay education they can't afford now. Conversely, the oldest cohorts in the workforce will hang on, imprinting the marketplace with staleness, a preference for the ways things are being done.

I like to think the oldest cohorts won't hold on, that they will choose to be different, to test the waters of change and swing the doors open to the young. "Here, take it and run. Maybe you can do a better job. It's time for me to stop driving so fast I can't taste or smell what I'm doing."

We take too much for granted. Most of us flip a light switch as if magic brightens the bulb. When we're hungry, we park, buy "food" our great-grandparents wouldn't recognize and stuff it down our throats. We hop back in our cars and pat our protruding middles.

Maybe we older folks will set an example by making the things we consume, indulging our innate desire to control a manufacturing process from start to finish. We might begin by growing food or preparing meals from scratch. Eventually, we might get in the habit of asking ourselves before we buy anything -- could we create this ourselves? Others may be able to do it cheaper, but too often the operative word in that phrase is "cheap."

"You've said that before," says Virginia. "Most likely you're preaching to the choir."

"I've been in the choir," I say. "The choir doesn't listen any more closely than anyone else. I can't even hear myself chatter."

"Well then," says Virginia, "maybe you should pack up things, put them in storage and move along."

"I've thought about that," I say, "but I kind of like where we're going here."

"Then listen to the preacher," says Virginia.

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