I was watching an interview on CBS This Morning the other day about the next chapter this whole Lean In business (Spoiler Alert: apparently everyone’s going to ‘lean in together’ now – I’d better stretch first). What actually got my attention was when Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles said that men and women have to work together now, especially “In this economy”
In This Economy.
It’s a phrase we’ve all heard. A lot. And, quite frankly for a long time now. Maybe too long.
You see, the simple phrase, ‘in this economy’ has become a little too convenient – it references, and absolves, our current state. It subtly suggests that today’s accepted environment of false employment figures, rising costs, dwindling opportunity, a bludgeoned and drained middle class and a ‘we’re treading water…still’ reality – of just getting by, barely, for millions of people – is somehow temporary.
And yet we know it’s not.
What it is (perhaps by-design and no, I’m not wearing the tinfoil hat) is not even the ‘new normal’ but, instead, reality. Take a deep breath and look around. ‘This Economy’ will not pass tomorrow, or next month. Or with the promises of a candidate in 2016.
This. Is. It. Accept that.
2008 marked a confluence of events that finally put an end to the sham of a robust economy. The falsely inflated, polished and teetering mess that started with the dot-com bubble burst; the pervasive and resonant psychological shock of 911; the Gekko-esque free for all of a standardless and unconstrained banking system driven only by the constant pursuit of excess created the veneer of a shiny economy supported by little more than tape and balsa wood. 2008. The curtain was pulled away, abruptly and roughly, and we all saw the man behind.
But the problem is, the man behind was forgiven – rewarded even.
You see, when 2008 happened an increasing population, a disproportionately consumerist economic engine, and the creeping displacement of workers by technological advance had the misfortune of intersecting with what had, prior to the collapse, been a quiet but growing pressure created by the demands by shareholders and corporations to continually increase profit at any cost. Every quarter, no excuses.
[Tweet “‘This Economy’ will not pass tomorrow, or next month. Or…in 2016. This. Is. It. Accept that.”]
And when it all hit the fan, there was suddenly a new, convenient and powerful justification for slashing and burning, with the catchphrase of ‘in this economy’ somehow justifying those actions.
Need an example? Take unemployment. Please. It’s the most basic economic theory of supply and demand which, when untempered by humanity, becomes a perfect and logical rationale for pushing remaining workers to work twice as hard, ramping up productivity via fear. Because a million other people would kill for your job if you somehow faltered. Or spoke up. And at a participation rate of around 62%, you tell me what the truth of the current unemployment rate is.
The Power of Language:
And yet, today above all, we must be mindful and aware of the language we both hear and use, because language paves the way for how we think. Not only as individuals but, as history shows us, as groups who can be swayed by the words we hear frequently, and finally adopt as our own.
In this economy? When you hear it, you nod knowingly if you’re one of us. It’s tough out there, we’re being squeezed with no endgame in sight but we forge grimly on, because by focusing on the ephemeral promise of the word ‘this’, then there’s a spark of hope that maybe this too shall pass.
But I wonder if you’re one of them, the corporate kings and their political pawns, with whom the phrase ‘in this economy’ is met differently. Perhaps with a knowing wink, and a small smile before the public facade of earnestness and concern is applied for the cameras.
Because ‘in this economy’ provides all the leverage they need to milk this country like cattle and reap the highest possible material gain in perpetuity.
Don’t look to the government for answers. The government has already made its choice: they’ve looked ahead and joined what they see as the winning team – those who will provide their true lifeblood in this no-term-limit age of Super PAC donations.
In an Age When:
– Educational funds are slashed, and the education of our children Federally directed toward making job ready drones for one-in-a-million opportunities, rather than empowered free thinkers who could – and should – challenge the status quo…
– It becomes acceptable to blatantly manipulate employment numbers and financial data so that they appear ‘positive’, if not glowing in this sound-bite media age, and after-the-fact downward revisions become the norm…
– When the top 10 supercar manufacturers all experience double digit growth while used cars also, curiously, do the same…we must see it for what it is. And SAY it for what it is.
It is NOT ‘this economy’. This Economy is Over.
It is now The Economy. The state of things. Reality. The Norm that’s not going to change on its own.
Once we accept that, and stop accepting the insidious and tired phrase ‘in this economy’ then maybe we can take it back, wake up, and make it what 99% of the country knows it should be. And deserves.