Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Waiting for the snap

Living standards decline while the privileged behave as though it's business as usual, feeling entitled to an affluent lifestyle by virtue of their education, hard work, and contributions to society.

This describes Japan, which many Japanese feel is a broken system. Its economy imploded in 1989 following an "asset bubble." Since then growth has been almost undetectable, and the economy actually shrank by 1.2% in 2008, and by 5.0% in 2009.

That's more than 20 years of hard times for regular folks in Japan.

Does this sound familiar? The U.S. went through a real estate bubble that popped in 2005, house prices have not yet hit bottom, and millions have been thrown out of their homes. As in Japan, widespread unemployment resulted. The ripple effect spread through the Americas and Europe.

All this is known.

How long will people put up with this in Japan, in the United States, in Canada?

Globally, unemployment is at record highs, and the income gap between rich and poor is widening in most developed countries.

I was told today that it is not unusual, in Canada, for an employer to receive 1,000 applications in response to a job ad.

I was surprised, because I am privileged, and all of this is mostly invisible to me. I know there is high unemployment. I see the numbers reported in the news.

But, 1,000 applications to one job ad!

Meanwhile, spending on luxury goods is up, according to a recent news item.

How long can this continue before something snaps?

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