I'm a news junkie, which is about as obvious as saying that Yao Ming is a tad tall. One of the flaws of being a news junkie is you are exposed to large quantities of Stupid, especially if you read pundits or analysis. Even the wisest people wiff it occasionally, which may occasionally help you forget some paid analysts are complete morons.
One of the moronic ideas kicked around by the wise and the stupid is the talk of what happens when the economy of America – and indeed the world – gets "back to normal."
I hear talk about getting back to normal (as well as the "new normal," but that's for another time). The economy will be back to normal. The GDP will be growing like normal. People's lives will be back to normal.
It's the normal of statistics and historical numbers that seems to get talked about. When this rate is as expected, when this number is as we're used to, then things have gotten "back to normal" in the economy. Then apparently we put on party hats and celebrate.
To you pundits and analysts, let me say this: People's lives have been changed utterly, destroyed utterly, by this economic downturn, and they're NOT getting back to normal.
Someone who lost their life savings is probably NOT getting back to normal in all of this. That money's not coming back. It's gone. They may work harder or push themselves or find a way to make more money, but that means their normal has changed.
The people who spent years out of work are not going back to normal. Money aside they lost time, lost opportunities to keep up their skills, were forced to relocate, etc. They're not going to suddenly magically be OK when the numbers line up.
The young people who didn't even have much of a normal have watched the economy decay for years. Their normal already is pretty damn lousy. It's not what it could have been, not what they'd have had if a bunch of soulless idiots decided to make money playing shell games with loans and banks.
Tracts of abandoned and unsold homes lie rotting. There's no normal in these ghost neighborhoods. There's no normal to those who stayed behind, losing property values, neighbors, and security.
They're not going back to normal.
Things aren't going back to the way they were for many of us. Those normals are gone – if they ever were real. We're going to have to survive this and build the normal we want out of this. A real "new normal."
And to those talking heads and overpaid pundits, kindly shut up. You don't know what you're talking about, you're just pushing numbers and stale views with no connection to the real reality.
You're missing the real normal. Come on down sometime and find out what people's lives are really like.
– Steven Savage