I wish I had more time to delve into this, but since I swore I would go Galt and enjoy life, I cannot. I bought "Red Dead Redemption" and it's a great video game, so here's the quick one-two on this and then it's off to X-Box 360 Land.
You are all familiar with my very scary chart showing the "20 year rolling average" of RGDP growth slowing down from 4.5% in the 40's and 50's to 2.5% today. The consequences of such a deceleration in growth being obvious in that we frankly won't be able to pay for everything we've promised ourselves in the future, not to mention nobody's 401k's and IRA is going to be growing at 12.% a year like they'd hope. However, what is also interesting is the volatility of that economic growth. Like the growth itself the volatility or standard deviation of economic growth over a 20 year average has been decreasing as well.
This is to due to many things which Red Dead Redemption will be preventing me from going into in more detail, but I shall list the primary ones here;
1. An increase in government as a percent of the economy - government does not boom or bust like the economy, it's been slowly and consistently growing which lessens the variance in economic growth.
2. Laws and lawsuits which have no only made things more "fair" but in the process has also slowed economic growth (EEOC compliance, requiring maternity leave, various environmental regulations.
3. Americans have just plain become more cowardly as time has gone on following the mantra "safety at all costs." Nobody takes risks any more, heck most people DEMAND a risk free world forcing their kids to wear helmets all the time, nobody is allowed to get into fights, no kid is allowed to go run around the other kids neighborhood in fear of getting kidnapped and if we have to sacrifice a little economic growth, not to mention brainwash our children into being tepid, meek, emasculated people when they grow up, that's fine.
4. On a somewhat related note, because of this cowardice, you now have a labor force where "conformance over performance" is the norm. Brought up not to think, let alone have any moral caliber about you, people "don't rock the boat" in fear of a law suit or losing their job and will gladly sacrifice the profitability and viability of their employer and just "do what they're told." Innovation is not rewarded, and is if anything a threat against an aging tranche of management whose skills are deteriorating. More value is placed on getting an MBA in that it shows you can jump through a hoop vs. delivering any kind of real leadership or great ideas you might have. And then we all sit there and wonder why all these corporations are losing money and the economy isn't turning around.
Of course the simple solution is "WWTSD?" What would Tony Stark Do?
Well, he'd kick ass, take names, create some great stuff, say to hell with regulations and environmental concerns, PROBABLY BE SO BOLD AS TO KISS A GIRL OR TWO WITH NO REGARD TO THE PROPRIETY OF IT and do what Americans did back in the Rockefeller and Edison days.
But of course that would increase the standard deviation of economic growth, and in today's stability-addicted, safety at all costs economic mind-set of the American people, "I'm sorry Mr. Stark, your business methods are just a bit too abrasive for our tastes. We suggest you find employment elsewhere. We wish you luck in your job search."
Enjoy the decline!