I've covered some of this territory before, but with two months of completely idle time to fill before I have more class stuff to talk about (fall classes start August 24), I might as well lay out my theories on the financial/housing market collapse and gigantic oil price spikes.
This view won't win me any friends among the soccer-mom crowd but I firmly believe that this catastrophic recession (unemployment as high as 14.5% in Michigan and pushing 9% nationwide counts as "catastrophic") will finally be the swift kick in the ass America needs to wean itself off of devil-may-care consumerism and living beyond our means. We can't all be that stupid, can we? People are losing their houses, losing their jobs, having their marriages fall apart because those marriages were built on shallow materialism rather than mutual respect (q.v. the latter: my wife supporting my poor broke ass through college and my having supported her through the immigration headache)...a lot of people are left with nothing, their job prospects shattered, their previous sense of self-worth totally shot to hell.
I have been saying for years that the only way we're ever going to get anything better is to have the pre-existing system fail so completely and decisively that even a fool can see we need something else. Mind you, I don't have that much faith in people (especially Americans) and I wouldn't be surprised if as soon as the economy took a turn for the better we were all guzzling gas and maxing out the credit cards at the mall, but some of us---maybe not all, but a fair few---will be more responsible, more likely to live within our means and strive to better ourselves, and will form a larger political bloc to express outrage at bailouts and handouts the next time the government tries to play Marx with our tax dollars to bail out the feckless and the foolish. With any luck we'll have enough votes to demand our politicians devote our resources to intelligence and responsibility because we're close enough to a majority to do so.
Now if you'll excuse me, this nice man in the white coat wants a word with me...something about "delusional crazy talk".