The world, like a jerking uneven cranky old machine, is resuming what we loosely call normal.
Supply chains are moving goods; rail strikes are being averted, and vaccine boosters are available for nearly everyone everywhere. Banks and politicians can’t agree on inflation, interest rates or whether they are causing a recession or preventing one.
All politics is local, but dramatic pains and woes play better on the national stage, so politicians of every stripe are switching their leadership around to see who can best craft a ‘new and improved message’ we can all buy, buy into, or at least hold our noses while we wait for change …
The queen’s recent passing, the media dump of pomp and pageantry ad-nauseam, a ‘changing of the guard as it were’ in an organization – the firm, as they call it – in the UK will soon be old news – and life returns to normal, or ‘normal for 2022’ because the old normal doesn’t exist anymore.
If someone is living through their first boom or bust, the roller coaster of the world’s forces is soon learned, or for the rest of us - re-learned. It’s not about a despot, dictator, or strong bully that rules the world, but the invisible hand of Adam Smith’s ghost that quietly moves us, massages markets and delivers good or bad news.
But I have to wonder if Smith’s thinking fits today’s world.
None of us make markets. None of the traders on Wall Street or Bay Street make markets – even though some of them wear the title ‘Market Maker’ because they can’t control what anyone thinks or does. The advertising industry is large as ever, but in a world where Tik Tok videos and tweets-by-idiots bounce everywhere, one must question the value of democratizing media.
I want to understand what is going on and to have more access to information and qualified expert opinion than ever, but I wonder if anyone knows what will happen next. We’ve recently seen what a virus can do to us all or what a Putin-type tyrant can do/try to do, and how the world reacts.
We buy clothes with self-repairing zippers, stoves with self-cleaning ovens and public bathrooms that clean themselves. But when we take out the arbitrage, the strategizing of businesses and industries – when we set aside the policy-making of central bankers and ideologue political sycophants, the ‘real market’ movers, are we the people …
It isn’t about dreaming of having a self-repairing and self-cleaning/cleansing world – because we do. Sure, we’ve mainly been compliant citizens taking advice (with some firmly defiant/contrarians) through a pandemic and riding an economic roller coaster. How you see that has a lot to do with location – where you are on the planet, where you sit on the economic spectrum, and where you are in terms of age/stage of life.
As we get older, we aren’t so much less defiant, but I think we’ve learned patience.
When we are young, we can’t spell that word.
At either end of this spectrum, we have to do what works for us, and it seems we citizens of this planet move through and beyond periods of difficulty remarkably well. This human species is resilient, and our collective knowledge and real-time understanding of and access to information are historic.
But long before we had data mining, algorithms, A.I., reality TV and political polls – we had self-reliant, determined, sometimes defiant, humanoid survivalists. That has served us for 200,000 years, and I expect it will continue in good times and in bad, in times of feast or famine on a planet with weather that has a mind of its own.
If it gets too hot, get out of the kitchen, put on a swimsuit and go to the beach.
If it gets too cold, add layers and/or move south.