Tag Archives: economy

Okay, time to be worried

Who is John Galt?

It’s nice that they made a movie out of the first part of Atlas Shrugged. I don’t know how many people actually saw it, but maybe that means that when I’m moved to ask the question I’ll get a few less blank stares. I love the expression, how its meaning in the book so clearly says what I want to say when I want to use it. I used to have a “Who is John Galt?” license plate frame on my car, but this really just resulted in people asking me for an answer, which is either very complicated, or a simple answer of “a fictional character from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand” which is pretty meaningless. So when it broke I didn’t replace it.

You know what other fiction line is in my head a lot? It’s that line from Pretty Woman. Vivian says it, but it’s more when Edward says it, when he sort of gets it and he tells Phil, “We don’t make anything.” Phil says, “We make money, Edward.”

That’s where we seem to be now. Not a whole lot of widget-making going on. Not a whole lot of people building stuff. For years the country has just seemed to be turning into one big service industry, serving itself, income generated going to suits who have no idea what their company is about because they were brought in from some other company in a totally unrelated field. They weren’t brought in to help the company do what it does better, they were brought in to make more money. They’re not invested in better, just in more. They’re not invested in the company, just their own resume, and they make decisions that make other suits happy, until they’re not, and then they go on to some other headquarters.

I have a feeling that anyone who’s spent quantity time in retail over the past few decades knows exactly what I’m talking about. As an employee and as a customer, it’s hard to feel a sense of loyalty to a company when the people running it don’t seem to have any such devotion to its standards or the people who support it.

So of course when Walmart’s telling us we can “live better” by shopping there, buying foreign-made widgets at lower prices, why shouldn’t we? Times are hard and who can afford to pay more for what they need when they can get something perfectly serviceable at a lower price? I totally get that. It’s hard to condemn people for making those choices, especially when inflation is such that it becomes, really, about what they can afford and it’s not much of a choice at all. Why should anyone buy higher-priced, American made products–going out of their way to even find them!–and have to deny themselves some of the extras in life when they could get similar stuff cheaper and have more?

So I get it. I get why we are where we are. It just scares the crap out me.

And boy did it scare the crap of me last week at Disney World. My six-year-old daughter and I drove down there for her spring break. I find myself at Disney probably a bit more than the average person. It’s not a multi-thousand dollar, once in a lifetime trip for me. I’ve got family to stay with down there and we try to keep it on the cheap as much as possible. So part of what I know about Disney is that it just doesn’t have an off season. There’s no time you can go when it’s not crowded, when you don’t have to wait for everything, etc.

Um, except right now. The last week of April was lovely. The temperatures were great. There were two days when it was quite sunny and in 90s (hey, it’s Florida), but even those didn’t seem bad at all. No pouring rainstorms in the middle of the afternoon. Overall, a really nice time to go down.

Wow, I’ve never moved so freely around the Magic Kingdom. Seriously. I don’t think we waited an hour for anything. Tons of the rides were listing 5 minute wait times. I didn’t use Fastpass (the special ticketing thing where you get a reserved time to come back and don’t have to wait the standby line) once this trip. There was really no point. It generally would have been more hassle to remember the Fastpass return time and hike back over to the ride than to just wait out the relatively short line.

It’s not like it was totally dead, but damn, I have never seen it like that.

It’s sort of easy for me to be in denial about how things are going. I know that my husband’s business is home-construction related, that it has suffered big-time, that they’re barely keeping their heads above water and barely getting enough orders to keep the lights on and to keep the few employees they have left in hours and paychecks. But he’s a strong, silent type, isn’t one to talk about it much, and we go on hoping the whole housing thing will pick up.

Somehow it’s easier for me to be in denial about what’s going on in our area, with the business that pays for my groceries, but 5 minute wait times at Disney World I can’t ignore. Go figure.

Yeah, this is what I take away from a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. I’m just angsty like that. While sitting around waiting for the Electrical Parade I started thinking about how Joss and Dylan had never been to Disney. Got all maudlin and shit and almost cried. But, you know, I decided that James Patterson probably felt this about his bird kids too (I forget if that was book 2 or book 3 of Maximum Ride) and was thereby excused.

I guess the bright side type message is that if you can possibly afford to make the trip, now seems like a great time for a Disney vacation.

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