What are your predictions for the US economy?

I’m in rural, small town USA.

I was having my septic tank pumped the other day, and chatting with the plumber doing the job.

He said that after he was done with me, he was going to put a lien on a rental property because the owner wasn’t paying him for installing a cleanout. Not a good sign. He was really upset about having to have to do that.

There was a young man I used to work with that had gone on and spent a good bit of time in the city learning the plumbing trade — 5+ years. I asked the guy how he was doing. (This guy mainly did septic and irrigation stuff. The young man did residences and business.) He told me the young man quit plumbing because he was spending more time as a bill collector than getting paid. He took an office job, working for the county.

This is frightening!! A really hard working man, with a young family, pride in his work ethic, working in a professional trade — not getting paid. Small town, conservative, rural USA.

The guy running the pump said he’s about 2 weeks away from giving up too. The next nearest plumbing business is 90 miles away.

We talked a little bit about guns. He said I should get back into gunsmithing again. I said, “Yeah, but if people aren’t paying…” “Well, if they don’t pay, you keep their guns!” Yeah…that’s just not my style of business.

Now, when I moved to this community everybody looked out for each other. You definitely didn’t want to cheat a neighbor. These were the survivors of the Dust Bowl, the ones that watched their parents stick together to fight whatever needed to be fought, attended barn dances, supported each other. Most of that generation is gone or senile.

People might’ve bounced checks on groceries or fuel to the gas stations, but they didn’t cheat their neighbors…okay, there’s been a few, but everybody knows it and doesn’t deal with them. People TALKED! Cheaters had a rough life in this community. It’s not a reputation you want to have. You don’t screw your neighbor. Everybody has a gun and everybody knows places…

Recently, our local hospital screwed up for the umpteenth time and were a nose hair away from losing their Medicaid/Medicare funding. (A young person needlessly died. They should lose their funding.) They’re the largest employer in the county. To lose that funding would close the hospital and the nursing home. It’ll be crippling to the community in multitudes of ways…although we can’t depend on that hospital for healthcare anyway…but it’s a good place to die.

Not so sure I can trust my community anymore…

Generation X has come into maturity. I’m one of them. We don’t have a fucking clue as to how best operate a society. We look to the machines and data for answers instead of the people who came before…because our parents have zero answers to our other problems.

We’re independent and competitive. We struggle with the concept of democracy and collaboration. Socialism?! Gasp — the horror!

We’re extraordinarily lazy in doing the work that needs to be done to improve our communities. Buildings falling in all over town, “Hmm. That’s ugly. Glad that’s not my problem.” It’s all of our problem.

…We’re lazy, but we’re also the busiest generation. We seldom have time to spend with our children. We’re business people, working 80 hours a week while still trying to get the kids to soccer practice. And holy fuck, property taxes are astronomical! So the fear of losing income, losing the house, losing everything is terrifying. Especially after the crash in 2008. Lots of us are still trying to recover from that nightmare. I think if I heard correctly, 49% of us haven’t recovered our wealth. Those of us who have succeeded probably have a handful of friends that didn’t make it through okay. And seeing what’s happened to them keeps us motivated to keep going back to the drudgery.

Myself and most of my friends are still going paycheck to paycheck, a few are getting their retirement savings back up. Only 1 is doing okay, but he’s in a 60-hour workweek, 2-hour drive, with his wife flying all over the world. He freaks out that he doesn’t get to see his girls enough. And he doesn’t see his friends very often. His stress levels concern me. My brother has a Master’s in accounting. He lives with his wife’s parents and drives for Lyft. The gig economy offers zero sense of security.

Local issues aren’t being addressed because we don’t have the courage or the time to address them, expecting some sort of fix from the government, “Make jobs! Make us great again!” Look, guys, it doesn’t work that way.

But am I doing anything to fix any of the problems I see? …nope. I’m gonna sit right here in my hammock and smoke some legal cannabis…maybe play some videogames and listen to some Depeche Mode. And just let it all crumble down around me…Mr. Super Generation X…or a conglomeration of my Facebook feed, looking at my fellow high school students. “Let’s go to Disneyland!” seems to be a reoccurring theme.

So my prediction…

The stock market is going to be doing what it always does. Those with the money are getting really good at trading amongst themselves. The investor algorithms are more efficient than they’ve ever been. But I think there’s something that a lot of Wall Street or the media aren’t willing to acknowledge.

The people are getting hungry.

These are the communities that serve the breadbasket of this country. Economically and financial wise, not having a community for the farmers and ranchers just isn’t going to go well for the market.

Small town America is full of heroin and meth and multitudes of other social illnesses. We’re turning on each other, fighting over the crumbs, just trying to survive. “Why are those people on welfare driving nice cars while I’m working my ass off?! Nobody needs welfare! Get off your ass and work!” This was being shouted by an employee in the grocery store while bagging our groceries — make of it what you will.

We’re pointing the finger instead of offering a helping hand. We’re shouting instead of listening. The “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality is growing. I have a feeling that the fruits of disruptive marketing campaigns is nearly ripe. (The seeds planted by Edward Bernays.)

There is no center to the community, no community leader, no arts, no reason for social cohesion. Ain’t no barn raising happening here.

Maybe we’ll figure it out, maybe chaos is coming…

Maybe it’s just my community…

But the man sitting in the President’s chair tells me it’s not.

We need real leadership.

My experience with my generation so far doesn’t give me much hope.

But longer-term, I see a ton of hope in the millennials and the youth in the world. ..as long as we don’t screw it up too horrendously for them.

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