Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ought to Review the "Decade of Oughts"

The decade has ended, and it has been a while since I have written, and it is time to begin to reflect back. While more thought is needed to really get it right, here are some preliminary thoughts that may or may not be helpful--it was that kind of deade.

We started with fear of the Millennium in the form of y2k. And while that was a bust and a false alarm, it may have given us a false sense of security and invincibility. Time soon seemed to stop as we tried to elect a President in an election that was too close to call and got decided on hanging chads, some Florida maneuvering, and a 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision.

With a pat on the back for a system that survived a hotly contested election, we tried to recover our bearings when on a clear morning we endured an awlful attack from the skies on 9-11 and we were or seemed oh so vulnerable. It was a watershed moment and the first time since the Kennedy shooting and the Iran hostages that we and the so-called greatest country in the world seemed so open to attack. We wondered why we did not see it coming and searched for answers.

Katrina and the slow response to it just confirmed that we did not have our act together yet. But things settled down as we responded and slowly rebuilt New Orleans, and we came together a bit, and survived better in some subsequent hurricanes. The world was hit by a tsunami that reminded us that nature could always run its unpredictable course and that we are not really in control.

But the market took off in blustering confidence as did housing new and old, and we once again felt fiscally strong and invicible, until the bubble burst and we free fell into a recession of only 1929 proportions, and there were some banker bad decisions and villains and of course there was Madoff. We slowly rebounded with the historical election of an African-American president who had to tackle so many problems, that the populace wondered if were taking on too many.

We ended as we began with a small recovery, and with "google" as our word of the decade that had no name. "Unfriending" was a key word of the last year as we turned to electronic technology for our Facebook friends, and it was a decade of failure and accomplishments, artifice and reality, and some heroes and villains. No one really owned or owned up to the decade, but President Obama did take responsibility for errors in a failed December 24 attempted plane bombing and we hoped it was a good sign. As we once again breathed a sigh of relief yet knew that we failed to detect all the clues of our vulnerability. But there was next year and the optimism that buoys us up and lets us sail on to another decade with no real name.
While our lives bobbed and weaved, some of favorite institutions for leisure time, the newspaper industry, TV, movies, and the music industry lost many of its old reliable bearings and all struggled to survive in the new decade. Jon Pareles had a good summary of the music industry in his recent Sunday article at the following web address: