I am sitting at my computer, googeling for a wood or coal burning stove on the Internet, and it struck me: here I am, using microchips and fiber optics, satellites in orbit are busy bouncing my keystrokes back to earth, while I’m shopping for… an 18th century appliance to heat my home.
I pickup my wireless phone and call a stove dealer; He is all out of stoves until early next year, and prices have gone up in response to heavy demand, as it is written in the book of ‘supply and demand’.
I contemplate my navel. My car needs gas, so I stop at the corner station. $76 dollars later, I see a well dressed man with a leather briefcase bicycling to the train station. The bicycle is made in China, where they know all about bicycles. The Chinese are buying cars now, and shipping their bicycles to us. I guess they don’t need them anymore, and we do. I read about scooters selling out in the west coast.
Scenes from Mad Max come to mind. I expect to see a car pulled by a horse, and wonder if the GPS will still work, but then I reason that it won’t matter, since a good horse knows the way.
I open my tax bill. School taxes have gone up, again, but my son still doesn’t know the multiplication table; Can I get a refund? As soon as I make a dollar, someone wants a share, even when it’s worth less and less. I plan for retirement, but the rules change as soon as I can see the possibility;
So we continue working long hours, feeling insecure about everything. It’s one step forward, and three steps back, and we are told that we are making great progress. Really? When I was young, watching The Jetsons on TV, I was sure that by the end of the twentieth century we will be flying our personal jet-cars, instead of looking for wood burning stove to heat my house. Then, only a generation or two ago, to be middle class required only one income, and mother was home when we finished the school day. My wife’s family were typical; The father owned a small dry cleaning store, owned a home, bought a car every few years, raised three children, and mother was at home. Heating oil was 30 cents a gallon, gasoline, 35 cents, diesel was 12 cents and subway fare 20 cents, we drilled for a nuclear attack by going under the desk and sticking our buts in the air, and a wood fire in the fireplace was for ambiance, not heat. Oh, taxes were a few hundred dollars, and kids knew how to read and multiply.
Appliances were made in the US and lasted forever, banks gave you toasters and TV’s, gas stations washed your windshield and gave trinkets just for coming. Then we started really moving forward on progress; 400 channels on TV and nothing to watch, 24 hour news that tells you nothing but opinions, microwave ovens to heat your frozen dinner because mom is now working too. Other things changed; The meaning of ‘Imported’ to ‘made by cheap labor faraway’, ‘long lasting’ to ‘disposable’, ‘cure’ to ‘daily dose’, ‘health care to expensive ‘no care’, marriage to ‘anything goes’, ‘faith’ to ‘multiculturalism’, an operator on the phone to ‘press 1 for English’, ‘call’ to ‘text me’, and so much more progress, much of it made possible when Al Gore ‘invented’ the Internet, and later his ‘Carbon Offset Credits’, which makes us and him feel so much better about all this progress.
Am I the only one feeling that we are sliding backwards?
We seem to be hell bent on becoming a third world country, with low wages, a crushed middle class, a dysfunctional political system, service based economy, and dependence on others for products and energy. What is happening to us? I would really like to know. It may make me feel better when I chop wood in the snow this winter, or shovel coal into the stove.
Giddy up home, horsey.