New Era : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

New Era

For five years, at least, American business has been in the grip of an apocalyptic, holy-rolling exaltation over the unparalleled prosperity of the "new era," upon which we, or it, or somebody has entered. Discussions of economic conditions in the press, on the platform, and by public officials have carried us into a cloudland of fantasy where all appraisal of present and future accomplishment is suffused with the vague implication that a North American millenium is imminent. Clear, critical, realistic and rational recognition of current problems and perplexities is rare.

Changes in the structure and processes of American industry and trade have been swift and sweeping, as the President's Committee on Recent Economic Changes has so well shown. Have these changes fundamentally altered the conditions of economic security and progress for either the individual business man or the nation? The simple truth is that we do not know. The Committee was honest and scientific enough to say so. American business should be sane and sensible enough to recognize it.

There is not a single new and important development in our economic life in recent years of which we can confidently calculate the consequences or judge the soundness and permanence. We have seen an amazing increase in man-hour production in industry since the war, but we do not know why it took place then, or whether it was merely a resumption of a rise, quite as rapid, that had been going on for fifty years before the war. We certainly do not know how long or rapidly it can continue, or, if it does, whether and how the problems of adjusting employment and consumer purchasing power to it will be met.

We have seen new industries rise like rockets, and old ones grow tired and die. We do not know how soon the new ones will fizzle out, or what others will take their place.

We have seen the machinery of distribution formed and reformed into new patterns changing every day before our eyes, but no one can say precisely where they leave the consumer and the independent enterpriser, or whether they will fundamentally alter the costs of distribution or mitigate the rigors of commercial competition.

We have seen security prices soar out of sight of earnings, brokers' loans swell till they absorb a third of the banking resources of the country, and the blind pools of ancient days return and multiply by endless crossing and pyramiding as the investment trusts of today. Banks merge and emerge in chains, trailing trusts and holding companies, while industrial corporations pay dividends not by producing goods but by buying each others' stocks and by borrowing and lending everybody's money in the market. But of all these things can anyone say with surety what they signify, whether they are safe and sound, or what they are leading to? We do not even know, or cannot agree, whether inflation exists, what it means, or how it shall be measured.

In face of the ignorance, uncertainty, and irrationality that surround every aspect of the "new era," it were wisdom for business to keep its feet firmly on the ground and assume for the present that the principles that prevailed through the long business past still govern the stability and success of business today.

Business Week -- September 7, 1929

-- Homer Beanfang (, February 25, 2000


Here's the URL: ra.htm

-- Homer Beanfang (, February 25, 2000.


-- Trish (, February 25, 2000.


-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, February 25, 2000.

Thank you, Homer.

I was reading through the essay, nodding my head, saying, "uh huh" a lot, and nearly fell out of my chair when I saw the date at the bottom.

What's that old saying about having to repeat the lessons you don't learn the first time around?

Thanks again, Homer. You're doing a kickass job!


-- Jimmy Splinters (, February 25, 2000.

Where's Rod Serling when ya need 'im?

-- Tim (, February 25, 2000.

No one can say they weren't warned.

Thank you Homer, for "keeping it real."

Holding onto my preps,


-- Shimoda (, February 25, 2000.

Thanks Homer!

-- Carl Jenkins (, February 25, 2000.


-- true (time@flash.twinkling), February 26, 2000.

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