Wednesday, September 21, 2005

My Homer Simpson Epiphany

While standing outside the Braehead shopping centre near Glasgow last week, my gaze was drawn to the idle cranes of the once mighty Govan Shipyard. Turning to look into the shopping centre, I cast a gimlet eye on a chav and chavette cooing at the DKNY watches in Ernest Jones window.

That’s when I had it: my Homer Simpson Epiphany. In an episode of the Simpsons, a new, dedicated, and efficient employee at the power plant has a major nervous breakdown after a visit to the Simpson household. He berates Homer for having the perfect home, family and possessions; while he, after a lifetime of hard work and commitment to self improvement, has nothing. Homer just shrugs his shoulders and responds: “Dunno. Don’t ask me. I don’t know how the economy works!”

I don’t know how the economy works either. Thirty years ago the chav and chavette would either have been reliant on the Govan shipyard for employment, or reliant on the earnings of someone who worked there. They certainly wouldn’t have had time to drool over bling gear, and they certainly couldn’t have afforded it.

I look at my possessions, and am perplexed that they are all made overseas. My car was made in Japan, my computer components in South Korea, my underpants and iPod in China. They were shipped here in containers manufactured in Poland and staffed by Phillipino coolies.

I hear all this stuff about the ‘knowledge economy’, and I think to myself; that’s all very well, but what happens when people overseas start getting knowledgeable? What are we supposed to sell them then? We can’t expect to make a decent living out of Gareth Gates, David Beckham, tins of shortbread, and bottles of scotch. I’m worried that some day we’ll wake up and discover that we’re living in fairyland.

Until that day arrives we can continue selling our houses to each other for increasingly preposterous sums of money. We can stock up on Indonesian underpants safe in the knowledge that when the casino economy does finally grind to a halt, someone else will have to put the lights out.


Sniffy said...

Well, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (and their predecessors too most probably) think they've got us all fooled. If we didn't have so much personal debt and if this wasn't perpetuated by the increased demand for our youngsters to go to university, then this country would be in serious doo doo. More serious doo doo. We're being bolstered by finance and debt industries and if we started to buy things by cash and if our 18 year olds got useful jobs instead of doing worthless degrees, the UK economy might well crumble.

£1500 off my credit cards and I'm debt free. Then I start to deal in cash!

garfer said...

I think it's called the 'Keynsian Paradox' (or summat). If we all get worried about losing our jobs, and stuff our mattresses with cash, the reduced demand in the economy leads to the mother of all recessions, and we end up losing our jobs as a consequence.
We have to keep buying geegaws on tick or the economy goes tits up. It's a cheering thought. I'm off to buy a Sony PSP on my credit card.

Sniffy said...

If that's the case, I might get an iRiver.

Rowan said...

I worry often about the very same things! I also worry about the brain drain of good Canadian citizens leaving for more personal promise of the good life in other countries like the USA. Several of my highschool buddies did just that. They have IM'd me once in a while to let me know how they are doing, which seems swell since housing and taxes are less expensive than they are here. I can't help but think though we've lost something worthwhile as a resource and a personal friendship here at home. They are happy, that is grand, but what if all that we'll be left with is the people content to live off of the government dollar, old age pensioners, and those, like me, who cannot be arsed to leave. What will become of us then I wonder?

garfer said...

A lot of the best people emigrate. It's understandable given the sort of salaries and tax regime available in the US.
Thankfully some of the best people (like us,natch) choose to stay put.

Sniffy said...

And some of us can't get out, no matter how hard we try!

Not that I've tried of course, but that's because I know that any attempt would be futile.

S.I.D. said...

I have tried to emigrate but Sister wont sign my release papers