Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Epiphany: We Are Irrationally Exhuberant

Lord knows hope of upward mobility for average people died and went to heaven, but what on earth gave Americans the fortitude in 2013 to reach such a high score on the consumer confidence index? It’s a miracle, if you think about it. With record numbers of people unemployed and living in poverty, and homelessness and hungry kids everywhere, we managed to score a whopping 78.1%!

It was a  mystery….how did the struggling mass of consumers manage to faithfully keep shopping when the economy still sucks for the average family, and who’s keeping score, anyway?

And then I had an epiphany.

An illuminating but simple discovery came to me days shy of January 6th, the Epiphany. I guess that’s what happens when Christmas carols start playing on November 1st. The advent of the shopping season tinkers with the Season of Advent, and we ebb and flow paycheck to paycheck instead of looking to scripture, the moon or the spinning of the earth for a calendar.  

It was revealed to me that consumers are the sheep in the nativity story, and we are getting fleeced.

‘Tis still the season, though, and blessed are we for the news of our high confidence scores, good tidings and great joy, which shall be to all people.  

And stoked are the richest 10% who own 90% of the stock market on the announcement it had its best year since 1995 and doubled in value since 2009. The perfect gift for that special someone who has all the gold, mir and frankincense they need.

My only son was born in 1995, not in a manger, but into the American middle class, that largest congregation of consumers on the planet. He’s confident, too, as are all his 19 year-old friends of their immortality and good looks. But that doesn’t reduce the ridiculous cost of their college tuition.

Like well-worn Christmas pageant costumes, the earnings of middle class families haven’t changed since 1988, while the cost of education, housing and health care has skyrocketed. We continue to consume in confidence, though!

Meanwhile the tiniest handful of angels consume all the money.

So my epiphany is this: having just three kings among 300 million people in a democracy is not just a sin, it’s ridiculously unwise.