07 September 2016

Inflation Adjusted, Our 7 Good Years Followed by 7 Lean Years Is Now 8

After Joseph was sold into Egypt, Pharaoh had a dream he wanted interpreted. The catch? He was bothered by the dream but couldn't remember it. His wise men couldn't interpret a dream he couldn't tell him about but Joseph could. 

"You saw 7 fat and healthy cows grazing who were suddenly devoured by 7 lean and mean looking cows," Joseph told Pharaoh. "What this means is that Egypt will have 7 years of prosperity and good harvests followed by 7 years of famine. You'll want to tax everyone enough each year in the good years to have surplus on hand for the bad years."

The Pharaoh liked what he heard, Joseph was made Prime Minister, and Egypt was saved from ruin. Everyone lived happily ever after (until, of course, Moses came along generations later and unleashed plagues on Egypt). 

Sadly, the 7 good and 7 lean years still seems to be a thing. It's just that with inflation, it's now 8.

In the last 8 years of the 20th century, from 1993 to 2000, the land was prosperous. Jobs were created at record rates, poverty dropped throughout the land, and wealth increased. 

Then, bored with prosperity, the people chose a new path, a candidate they'd like to have a beer with. (To be fair, in the 2000 election more Americans voted for a continuation down the old path but sometimes a candidate can win a majority of the popular vote without winning a majority of the electoral college.)

In the first 8 years of the 20th century, the land was attacked, and jobs and wealth were destroyed. The people didn't realize that good people could have bad policies, policies that could result in bad times. Shocked and dismayed, they turned back after the 8 lean years.

The hole they dug was so deep that it took years just to recover the lost jobs and wealth. But eventually, the jobs came back, wealth was recovered (although both were redistributed), and the economy returned to normal. Sort of. A little less vibrant but still growing steadily and people felt like they could once again buy new cars and houses, splurge for vacations and lattes. 

But again they grew bored with prosperity and their gaze turned fondly to a candidate who they liked simply because all the folks who claimed to be experts didn't like him. He promised change. They liked that. Good times are boring. Tragedy gives you a sense of purpose, challenges to overcome.

So, they turned again to this path that alarmed experts  but excited something primal within them. And again the country had 8 lean years ....

Once upon a time, nature's cycles of drought and rain, cold and warm drove prosperity and poverty. Now we're still on an apparent cycle but this one appears to be driven by boredom with the pedestrian pace of progress as compared to the bold strokes of tragedy, something primitive within us that longs for a challenge more interesting than showing up for work every Monday at 8 AM. The old cycles are driven by nature; this new cycle is driven by human nature.

8 prosperous years followed by 8 lean years. It might be the new rhythm America. Or a really old rhythm. Embrace it. 

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