Originally published online March 15, 2009
“Final Bell” by Arik Roper
(UPDATE: “Hack Money, Hack Banking” by Douglas Rushkoff, the March 20 follow-up to “Let It Die,” is available here.)
LET IT DIE
by Douglas Rushkoff
March 15, 2009
With any luck, the economy will never recover.
In a perfect world, the stock market would decline another 70 or 80 percent along with the shuttering of about that fraction of our nation’s banks. Yes, unemployment would rise as hundreds of thousands of formerly well-paid brokers and bankers lost their jobs; but at least they would no longer be extracting wealth at our expense. They would need to be fed, but that would be a lot cheaper than keeping them in the luxurious conditions they’re enjoying now. Even Bernie Madoff costs us less in jail than he does on Park Avenue.
Alas, I’m not being sarcastic. If you had spent the last decade, as I have, reviewing the way a centralized economic plan ravaged the real world over the past 500 years, you would appreciate the current financial meltdown for what it is: a comeuppance. This is the sound of the other shoe dropping; it’s what happens when the chickens come home to roost; it’s justice, equilibrium reasserting itself, and ultimately a good thing.
I started writing a book three years ago through which I hoped to help people see the artificial and ultimately dehumanizing landscape of corporatism on which we conduct so much of our lives. It’s not just that I saw the downturn coming—it’s that I feared it wouldn’t come quickly or clearly enough to help us wake up from the self-destructive fantasy of an eternally expanding economic frontier. The planet, and its people, were being taxed beyond their capacity to produce. Try arguing that to a banker whose livelihood is based on perpetuating that illusion, or to people whose retirement incomes depend on just one more generation falling for the scam. It’s like arguing to Brooklyn’s latest crop of brownstone buyers that they’ve invested in real estate at the very moment the whole market is about to tank. (I did; it wasn’t pretty.)