25 December 2008

Perpetual Adolescents Run Out of Fairy Dust

America's aging Peter Pans have discovered that happy thoughts and fairy dust no longer entitle them to fly. The young people of America led the world economy during the 1980s and 1990s, but now they are older, struggling to pay down mortgages that might be worth more than their homes, and to put something aside for a retirement that they never may be able to afford. _AT
Ah, but not all of America's Peter Pans understand the gravity of the situation. The narcissist-elect, for example, is one Peter Pan who still believes in fairy dust and pixy spells. The soon to be narcissist-in-chief is urgently collecting about him a coterie of fellow Peter Pans and Cinderellas, in order to strengthen the magic he intends to cast upon the world. Reality has more lessons to teach Peter Pan.
The United States lived in Lever-Lever Land too long. Like Peter Pan, the country has refused to grow up. The object of the stimulus plans offered by the present and the next US administrations is to return to Lever-Lever Land, that is, to debt-financed consumption. It won't work. Leverage is for the young, who borrow to build homes and start businesses. The financial crisis forces Americans to act their age, that is, to save rather than borrow and spend. _AT
No, my dear Spengler, the financial crisis should force Americans to act their age, but having recently elected a messiah to be their leader, it seems Americans have chosen to put personal and national maturity off until tomorrow, yet again.
America's leaders haven't yet had the required moment of clarity. Its financial leaders still think the problem is a mere matter of confidence. These were the same people who swallowed their own sales pitch.

...The world needs more young people to restore "animal spirits" to the market place, and America no longer has enough of them. That is why emerging markets must become more than an outsourcing shop for cheap manufactures, or an oilwell-cum-ethanol plantation. Harnessing the potential productivity of the world's young people is the challenge for next year and the next decade. Without them, America will endure a lost decade more depressing than Japan's during the 1990s. _AT
America was the cornerstone of the world's economy, once, before Americans chose the path of perpetual adolescence. Now living in a state of perpetual denial, the psychological neotenates and academically lobotomised never-never lads and lasses pretend that affluence is their entitlement, and behave (and vote) accordingly.

The rest of the world doesn't understand yet. It thinks that America will wake out of its adolescent trance and start to behave as a mature nation, as a place that can be trusted to drive the world's economy again. But there is nothing certain about America waking up, as a nation. The soothing, somnolent tones of the narcissist-elect urge the sleepers go more deeply into dazed slumber. The echo chambers of academia, the media, and popular culture amplify the hypnotic message around the world -- except perhaps in China and Russia, who would like to replace the US at the top, but have too many problems of their own.

At this point, waking up would not be politically correct. To do so would demand working against the most powerful forces of American and world society. More likely that the Keynes will be resurrected by Dear Leader to inflate another bubble of salvation. Stand clear.
At least one more generation of perpetual adolescents has been bred -- albeit smaller in numbers due to successful anti-natalist attitudes that have grown more common thanks to feminised academic curricula and popular media messages that portray family life as a drag. Even so, there is no end in sight.
Perhaps the worse outcome in all of this is that kids have been taught to consume, consume, and consume more, but they never learn that they have to be a producer in order to become a consumer.

Young children are strangers to hard work or chores, and teenagers are no longer expected to get a job outside of the home and produce in order to consume. Thus they don’t learn the importance of working, saving, developing practical options, and arranging priorities. Instead, kids learn to make meaningless brand distinctions, they discover what things merit bragging rights, and they become proficient in keeping up with the Joneses.

Producing and saving just isn’t going to cut it with these kids. They have been trained to splurge beyond their means and have not been taught to plan for their futures. And this generation, unless they modify their behavior and slash their consumer compulsions, may very well have some bleak prospects ahead of them. _Taki's

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