The wonder of it all is that there hasn’t been civil disorder yet. When I go into the supermarket, I marvel at the price of things: a single onion for a dollar, four bucks for a jar of jam, five bucks for a box of Cheerios, four bucks for a wedge of cheese. Is everybody except Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, and Mark Zuckerberg living on store-brand macaroni and ketchup? It’s hard to measure the desperation of households in this culture of rugged individualism. At social gatherings friends rarely tell you that they are two months behind in their mortgage payment and maxed out on their credit cards. And that’s the supposed middle class, at least the remnants of it. I can’t tell you what the tattoo-and-falling-down-pants crowd talks about in the parking lot outside the 7-Eleven store. Perhaps they swap meth recipes.
Civil disorder would at least mean something, a consensus of dissatisfaction about how life is lived. Instead, we only get mad outbursts of tragic meaninglessness: the slaughter of innocent children in school, or movie theater patrons mowed down by a lone maniac during the coming attractions. Life imitates art, as Oscar Wilde said, and these days television is our art. Hence the United States is now equal parts Jersey Shore, Buck Wild, the Kardashians, and Honey Boo Boo. That’s not really a lot to work with in terms of social capital, especially where radical politics might be called for. — James Kunstler
People’s Park. We were young then, and knew the real deal. Now I guess we’re tired, whatever.