October 31, 2008

Diagnosis: GEC and TNU

Okay, after a week of actually sleeping close to eight hours a night for the first time in years—and without the aid of my new Ambien prescription—I reverted back to a longtime pattern of waking up at 3:30 a.m. and not being able to get back to sleep.


Diagnosis: dread about GEC and TNU.

GEC stands for Global Economic Crisis; TNU for The New Uncertainty.

Bummer that all this is going on. Or that my job is in jeopardy. Yeah, it is, as much as the president of my company vowed the other day that he wanted to keep the members of our team together and employed as long as possible.

There are some things beyond his control—beyond all our control.

Meanwhile, when I woke this morning at 3:30 a.m. I sought relief in my new guilty pleasure. I tried to watch another episode of the second season of the '80s TV show Dynasty (available on The past couple weeks or so it has been oddly soothing to go back to the happier simpler times depicted by this classic, culturally definitive primetime soap opera.

The happier times were the Reagan ‘80s. Okay, I’ll date myself, but I was starting college at this time. I have recently read in news reports that, no, this GEC and TNU that we’re dealing with right now does not represent a new Great Depression. No, the economic downturn that we should refer to for historical guidance is what the recession that the United States dealt with during the early ‘80s.

We were in a recession in the early ‘80s? Sorry, I was a stupid, clueless college student, and my father worked in a recession-proof government job. So, I just didn't feel it as much as I should have. Sorry.

I just remember that college kids in the early ’80s, especially those at elite private schools, such as the one I was privileged to attend, were full of a certain arrogance and optimism. Thanks in large part to our new president. We were going to put behind the national “malaise” of the Jimmy Carter era and the 1970s. We were going to believe in America again, in our ability to kick USSR butt and rule the world with unbridled capitalism.

Dynasty was a symptom of that arrogance and optimism. It so melodramatically presented a time when we celebrated super rich people and oil moguls and over-the-top excess. Big hair, big shoulder pads, big diamonds, big cars, big everything. Nancy Reagan and her designer wardrobes and her pricey new china.

As well as champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

Oh, how lovely it all was.

And how two decades of that celebration and arrogance and sense of entitlement and greed—by myself and everyone else—led us to the situation we’re in now: GEC and TNU.

Life just doesn’t turn out the way you expect.

Pass the Ambien, please.

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