Maybe James Kunstler is right; maybe the whole “cartoon” period is over. Kunstler argues that the suburbs produced houses that were only parodies of the real thing. The porches were only meant to look like porches – from a distance. There were picture windows, but no pictures worth looking at – just another cartoon house across the road.
And the shutters were not real shutters – but mock shutters you couldn’t close.
What occurs to us is that his critique of modern suburban architecture applies to the whole economic period, beginning in the early 70s…and lasting right up until the present. The GDP grew, but it was mock growth, not the real thing. People spent money they didn’t have buying things they didn’t need. People felt richer, but it was ersatz wealth – a misleading sensation caused by inflation of their house prices, credit cards, cheap products at Wal-Mart and home equity lines.
The whole economic model was a scam. You can’t really get rich by spending more money. It’s saving money…and investing it in productive enterprises…that makes you rich. Yet, for the last 30 years, the feds have been encouraging consumer spending as a way to boost the economy. Wall Street turned over trillions of dollars – pretending to “add value” by better allocating capital and credit. What it really did was to pay itself huge fees for loading down the whole society with debt. And even the wealth supposedly created in the stock market turned out to be phony. Compared to increases in the price of gasoline, the Dow went nowhere for the last 40 years.
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