Do you ever long for a simpler time?
Lately I’ve been tempted to throw out all our technological conveniences and go “off the grid.” It started when a registry entry on my computer became corrupted. Fixing that involved restoring archived emails. That engaged a web service that needed to increase our storage space. When that maxed out, additional corrective measures were needed, involving multiple password resets, texts and calls to customer service, and multiple security questions. I know our cloud-based economy is supposed to be more efficient, but there’s something beautiful about simple living.
Only, it was never very simple.
Just ten years ago we were reeling from the Global Financial Crisis. Most banks in the country had received TARP bailout money. US Government debt had been downgraded by a nationally recognized credit rating agency, the Euro was threatening to break up, and we wondered what would be the next shoe to drop.
Twenty years ago, the markets were in the middle of the dot-com crash. Terrorists were hatching the World Trade Center attacks. After 9/11 came a series of anthrax attacks. The country geared up for military action to punish Al Qaeda and oust Saddam Hussein from Iraq. The cover of The New Yorker featured a dream sequence entitled “Fears of July” with a mushroom cloud looming over the City.
In the early ‘90s we faced the first Gulf War, domestic terrorism in Oklahoma, and civil wars in the Balkans, Africa and Central America. The old Soviet Union may have broken up, but there was a tremendous amount of violence that followed it. It seemed like much of the “peace dividend” went to prepare for Y2K. And let’s not get started on oil prices in the ‘70s and ‘80s, mutually assured nuclear destruction in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and wars and depressions before then.
The fact is, life has never been very simple.
A month ago I went canoeing in Northern New Hampshire. I was amazed by how much gear we needed in order to live simply: camp stoves, tents, sleeping bags, coolers, pads, paddles, PFDs, fishing gear, licenses, camping permits, fire permits – the list went on and on. Trying to live simply can be extremely complex.
Even the simplest forms of life – the one-celled bacteria – have their genome encoded in DNA, with tens of thousands of gene families combining to form a single individual. We shouldn’t be surprised by the complexity of the markets. It’s never been easier to own a small piece of the largest and most profitable companies in the world. But making things easier can sometimes make us want to scream.
Edvard Munch, “The Scream.” Source: Wikipedia.