Thursday, January 22, 2009

Coming to terms with a New Era

Email from a friend:

I'm still coming to terms with the idea that we are living in an "Obama era"

The Bush (II) era was so distinctive, covering a quarter of my life and distinguished by several profound changes, including the sudden and terrifying reawakening of the sleeping Left, a profound reduction in American clout overseas (not always directly connected with our former president), emergence of surprising self-sufficiency in Latin America and selected asian and african countries, and a cartoonishly orwellian and predictable evolution of Bill Clinton's "War on Terror" run largely by the Bush/Saud/Bin Laden clan.

And now it's over.

Nobody is calling Iraq "Bush's war" any more, though if anybody ever had the right to claim ownership of a war, this is surely one of those cases. I think the whole period will be remembered as an abberation, like "The McCarthy Era". The decade in which Irony died will be remembered as the decade of Irony.

Now we are really looking at a period of post Irony, facing serious questions about science, technology, the planet, how people work and live, politics, race and religion. I optimistically believe that these questions will naturally answer themselves as we see them with fresh eyes.

However, I also see us walking into some big traps: the aging babyboomers are not going to go back to work when the banks start lending money again. Our efforts to reduce carbon emmisions will have huge costs and no tangible short term benefits, and I anticipate an economic carbon bubble which will dwarf the recent construction and credit crisis. College education has become paradoxially indispensable and too expensive for many households. These are traps: they they may require faster and bolder action than we can manage.

-Seth Galbraith

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