Sunday, November 18, 2012

Funding the Cause

Or: Making the best of it (11/18/12)

The Elder and the Younger are both of an age where, in my humble opinion, they need to have computers available for their homework and other such nonsense. So, I am faced with a funding dilemma that may well be a blessing in disguise.
The old warhorse Pentium-powered Compaq which I have been using to produce this screed was purchased on sale for $299.00 approximately five years ago. The network card just gave up the ghost, and as this card is not replaceable, the computer is now an excellent word processor. This also leaves me with no way to hook to the Internet at my preferred working location of the kitchen table.
I have the new Dell laptop purchased a year ago, but the Youngest uses that for his homework and is now a traveling computer, going back and forth between the two households. The Eldest has his own little convertible tablet, but he is truly loathe to allow sharing by any others. Finally, there is the behemoth tower hooked to the plasma which is a gaming terminal for WOW and other such wasters of time. It definitely cannot be taken to the table for my use.
Now, in the salad days, I would have toddled down to the Dell store and purchased a replacement. But even cheap computers aren't so cheap and shelling out $300.00 to $500.00 for a device primarily used for the occasional post to a not-very-well-read blog seems to be a bit of a waste.
So, here I am, plugging away in LibreOffice Writer, creating an HTML document to be posted in the near future. I get to sit down at the table, write to my heart's content (and my reader's dismay) and not really have any differences in my lifestyle other than an odd little bit where I take the computer and plug it in to charge it, check to see if there are upgrades to the OS (thank you Linux Mint) are available, and do a mail fetch.
Now, the point of this excess of detail is pretty damn simple. What is described in the above paragraphs is not in any way, shape, or form a difficult process. What is also implied is that a lot of folks would have gone the other way, went out and bought a new computer in order to save themselves a very minimal effort and inconvenience.
When I think about it, this is the core of our problems here in the Western world. We are just too damn lazy. I place myself in that group, so please don't accuse my of hypocrisy, I am fully aware of my myriad faults, but the core of this post is to point out that the laziness, and its handmaiden "convenience" are not our best cultural attributes.
We are also getting poorer as a country. Despite the protestations of the impassioned, the rich getting richer is not the issue, the money being hoarded by the wealthy is ephemeral paper, kind of a consensual hallucination or inside joke, signifying status but in a pinch, worthless.
Nope, we are becoming poorer because in our last little oil-fueled orgy of self-gratification (or as I call it, the last twenty-five years of my life) we burned too much the fuel that runs things and used too much of the resources needed to keep the party going.
We are going to be getting poorer. No way around it. We will be poorer in real terms, as we won't be able to go out and buy something every time a notion strikes us, the real costs of everything will increase (read here inflation and/or wage deflation) until their cost to consumer matches the scarcity of resource.
Our lives will change, we will work longer into our declining years, and current retirements will be changed radically. Our dreams of old-age leisure are built upon paper wealth. As the resources underlying this paper wealth are currently being depleted, the value of the paper wealth itself will become progressively more attuned to its real worth (do your really think that Apple is worth $600+ a share?). The golf and the travel will gradually fade away, and the current retirees will find themselves in the standard condition of old people everywhere. Worried and tight with money.
Maybe I dwell to much on all this, It really won't change my life all that much. I know that I will work until I am seventy or so. I will become poorer like the rest of the country and weather the process with as much style as I can manage. I will watch political charlatans come and go, promising things that they cannot deliver. I will endure.

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