Boston.com riffs on what a modern-day Great Depression would look like, and Tim O'Reilly extends the analysis. The fascinating thing I found in both is just how much good would come from a serious meltdown.
For example, Tim calls out the following:
Desurburanization, and a preference for renting over owning a home [In other words, we'd go back to the world as it was before when you actually had to have saved money in order to buy a home - is this a bad thing?]; The re-legitimization of hand-me-down culture..., including national second-hand chains [Again, this sounds excellent - people reusing things rather than buying new and trashing "old" before it really has the chance to become old]; A preference for reliability over novelty and style [Sounds fantastic! Sign me up]; "The neighborhood appliance shop could reappear in a new form - unlicensed, with hacked cellphones and rebuilt computers" [Again, more reuse]; A fatter society, "as more people eat like today's poor"... [OK, I don't like chubbiness, at least not on my hips - Strike one]; "More crowded subways and cheap, unlicensed day-care centers" [Bad on the day-care centers, but wouldn't it be great to see more use of the subways and other public transportation?].
I don't want to minimize the negative effects of a depression, but most of these things sound like real improvements over our current society, which is big on convenience and waste.
Boston.com suggests that "today we spend much of our money on healthcare, child care, and education, and we'd see uncomfortable changes in those parts of our lives," and I'm not arguing that it would be pleasant to spend more time in emergency rooms. I'm also not suggesting I'd want to see more of the inane time wasting that cheap entertainment might provide:… Read more