Last week I mentioned a conversation I had with an acquaintance who was dismissive of my efforts to put aside storable food for the future. Although he himself has been out of work for the past two years, he is still convinced things will be turning around for him any time now. His wife still has her comfortable position in California state government, and although they have had to cut back on things like vacations and saving for their one child’s education, they aren’t yet feeling reality the way a lot of others are. He has been told the economy will soon recover, and he’s patiently waiting for that to happen.
Any day now, a cushy job like the one he once had will again open up for him. That’s what he’s been told, and that’s what he believes. There is no cause for concern. The ship of state will right itself, and all will soon be well.
My friend lives in this delusional world because he has been reassured time and again by “experts,” like the Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, who has repeatedly assured the populace that this little recession is a temporary bump in the road out of which we are already seeing signs of an imminent recovery.
I wonder if my friend was watching Meet the Press the very day after we spoke, because on that program Geithner was reversing himself with a calm declaration that should freeze the blood of the most cheerful believer in the “Everything Is Going To Be Fine” school of thought.
Speaking of the long-anticipated recovery, Geithner admitted, “Oh, I think it’s going to take a long time still. This is a very tough economy. And I think for a lot of people it’s going to be – it’s going to feel very hard, harder than anything they’ve experienced in their lifetime now, for some time to come.”
This is an astonishing admission, coming as it does from a member of the ruling class. Geithner is the same guy who reassured everyone only last year that “actions we took to stimulate the economy helped arrest the free fall, preventing an even deeper collapse and putting the economy on the road to recovery.“
Now here he was cavalierly acting as though he’s been advising caution all along. Oh, well, of course for a lot of people it’s going to feel harder than anything they’ve experienced in their lifetime. Sorry. Did I forget to mention that?
It’s actually so out of character for Geithner to make that admission that many are wondering why he even did. Was it something that just slipped out, or have our masters simply come to realize that almost nobody’s buying their crap anymore? You can only tout an imaginary “recovery” for so long. Eventually, everyone you’re feeding this nonsense to will either laugh in your face or try to kill you.
I quoted last week from the New York Times which admitted that instead of the 125,000 jobs government economists had predicted for June, there were only 18,000. I’ve since learned that even that bad news is even badder still.
True, there were 18,000 new jobs, mostly low-paying service jobs, but what we weren’t told about was that while those lucky few found some work, another 200,000 other people lost their jobs that month. Permanently.
That’s not a net gain of a few jobs for the month of June. It’s a huge net loss.
Perhaps it’s because my friend has always worked in government and his wife still does, that he continues to live in a fantasy land of hope. I doubt that Geithner’s revelation will do much to sway him -assuming he even hears about that stunning admission. My friend has an impressive degree from a prestigious university that has always opened doors for him.. He has no reason to believe there’s not another cushy government managerial position just as good as his last one waiting for him out there, once the promised recovery gathers steam. His salvation will come any day now.
Sure, times may get hard for a lot of people, but not everyone has a resume as impressive as his. He’ll get snatched right up to head some lucky department, just you wait and see. Yes sirree. Just as soon as that recovery gets here, you betcha.
My friend is living in a world that no longer exists. His degree and his impressive resume are now meaningless in a society where there is no longer a demand for people with his background. The type of jobs he held are gone, and they aren’t coming back. Yet he can’t accept that reality. He truly believes that in no time things will be back to normal, back to the way they used to be for guys like him. The experts have told him so.
And why shouldn’t he harbor such hope? He sees himself as being in the same privileged class as Tim Geithner, and Geithner isn’t struggling, is he? Only the little people will be hurt, and he and Geithner are a breed apart from the little people.
To my cocky acquaintance, I’m a little bit kooky because I mentioned I’m trying to stockpile emergency food. Times may be tough, he admits, but is that really a reason to go overboard?
He doesn’t see my actions as a calm, prudent effort to create a modicum of security for my wife and myself. The image he has of me now is of a guy gripped with a wacky cold war, bomb-shelter hysteria.
Before we parted, he smiled condescendingly and shook his head at my folly. I got the distinct impression that he feels a bit sorry for me. I’ve gone over the edge. I’ve become delusional.
One of us is delusional, all right. I only wish it were me.