Today, we find ourselves in a New Year and a New Decade. Of course, this is not actually any more meaningful than we choose to make it. Time is an arbitrary human measurement for the passing of events. It is no more meaningful than the Metric System or the usage of units of stone for weight. It has meaning only if we assign it meaning just like anything else.
Our measurement of time, however, tends to hold more meaning than other things for us humans, as it is time that is our most valuable, and most limited resource. We do not always use this resource wisely as youth is wasted on the young, but time is most certainly the most valuable of resources. Because of the high value of time, we tend to look at it with much care and attention and we tend to find the occurrence of some patterns quite interesting.
Here, at the turn over of 2020, we leave the 2010s behind us. We are entering the third decade of the 21st century. What has changed?
We find ourselves better off (so far) than the 20th Century in nearly every way. There are not yet any world wars claiming millions. Globally, poverty is on the decline. Living standards are higher than ever. Literacy is higher than ever. There are not currently any major plagues. The biggest health threat in the world today is that people are eating too much rather than too little. The only exceptions to all of these patterns are the countries the USA has destroyed through warfare. Wars started on lies have devasted the Middle East and parts of Africa. This is nothing new for the USA of course. Wars started on lies are something of a tradition: the Spanish-American War, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen. None of these wars were legitimate. I have heard compelling cases for WWI and WWII as well, but that's for another day. So, the 2000s and the 2010s are decades of disastrous foreign policy, but we can consider that largely a continuation of the 20th Century.
US debt levels are higher than ever, but that has been an on-going crisis since Ronald Reagan's Presidency, so... no change there. The major change would really only be the progression of the crisis. Savings have been eliminated, the bond market is upside down, and the overnight Repo market is going insane. It would be reasonable to think that another major economic crisis is threatening and given the Federal Reserve's previous actions as well as Donald Trump's love of low interest rates, we can assume that the coming crash will be more like 1929 than 1921. Oh! How history loves to rhyme!
Pot is legal. Vaping is threatened. A person now has to be 21 to buy nicotine products which seems like the wrong idea. Incarceration is still up but that also started in the 20th Century.
For all of the bluster about things having become so very different, most things are very much just a continuation of previous policy choices. It would seem that the USA is allergic to major changes. Entrenched corporate interests have padded the pockets of power brokers just a little too much and made the country incapable of delivering on its promises of freedom for all.
Some major things did occur outside of government. The private space industry is real and appears to be making some massive strides. During the 2010s the smart phone became almost a requirement for the living of every day life. This allowed the government to begin a mass surveillance program that would have made the fascists of the early 20th Century blush. We also saw the birth of cryptocurrencies. Facebook took the world by storm, and streaming is now threatening cable, and accordingly all of the major content providers have begun offering their own streaming services.
Ownership is disappearing. Streaming is a great example. People previously had purchased physical media: CDs, DVDs, and the like. Today, people pay for access to the same. Similar things have happened to gaming. Some people claim that Google Stadia is the start of it, but it already happened. With Xbox and Playstation most people purchase games digitally and download them. This is also true of Steam. If the server shuts down, your content goes with it. Ebooks are also part of that.
It is troubling the leasing of vehicles, furniture, tools, and everything else is also more common. People own nothing. Of course, even houses bought and paid for can simply be seized by the government if you're even a dollar delinquent on your taxes. But maybe the SWAT team simply hits the wrong house, or someone who hates you says you have illegal drugs... because even your life is not your own. It is perhaps not surprising that moods regarding socialism have shifted. Socialism is now accepted by much of the American public.
As we enter the New Year and the New Decade, let's be sure to keep our eyes open, question everything, and remember to treat one another with loving kindness no matter our differences.
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