Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Voi Että!

Maybe it’s always been like this and it’s only in very recent times that I’ve gotten around to noticing. But it seems like the world is starting to spiral out of control around us and we’re about to be left somewhere in outer space between Pluto (whether it’s a planet or not!) and Neptune. I’m not talking about astronomy. I’m not even talking about science.

I was talking to Sarah and Kevin about this and they kept saying words like profit margin, worker productivity, and cost effectiveness. I’m not an economist, but I think we agreed with one another.

While the EU is a super nice place and has always had its beauty, life has not always been as easy as it currently is (at least in some parts). Many countries have free or very cheap (by American standards) university tuition. Many Finnish students even get paid to attend college. The medical and social security systems are typically quite a bit more available than those in the States. There’s very little homelessness. Old people who didn’t start saving when they were 20 years old don’t have to end their lives in poverty. At least four weeks of paid annual vacation is common. Mothers typically get nine months of paid maternity leave. It’s nice.

I think Finland completely deserves this high quality of life because of its weather and its darkness. They earn it and we should all pay them because they survive their winters (at least most of them do). They also earn it because they learn to speak Finnish fluently, which I’m finding impossible. My friend Sannamari has a four year old son, and even he can speak fluent Finnish in the present, past, and future tenses. He can use the prepositions and postpositions flawlessly. He deserves a free university education. And the rest of Europe deserves it as well. Shoot, we all do.

BUT, some very familiar problems are poking their way through the berry bushes in Finland. Finland’s traffic congestion is on the rise. Europe is starting to rival the States’ consumerism. To complicate things, the birth/immigration rate is lower than the death rate in some EU countries, such as Germany and Finland. The young people are going to have to start working really hard to support the older folks who used to have more children. Will the quality of life get tangled up in the economy? Is the European Union as stable and we think it is? The EU is only 15 years old. The Euro is only eight years old (in terms of physical circulation of actual paper money).

While we’re talking about stability, is the US as stable as we think it is? The National Debt is at 4.9 trillion dollars. If we didn’t have the military, why would anybody want to accept the US dollar as anything other than a little rectangular piece of paper that can survive the laundry?

Basically, this is what I’m thinking about: the developing world is about to take us over. It’ll take about 50 years. First we have to forget how to do manual labor and take care of our basic needs with our own hands. Eventually India and China will realize that not only are they producing valuable goods that everyone is buying all over the world, but no one else is capable of producing those goods because we’re all too busy analyzing our profit margins and worker productivity with our mathematical models (on computers that they mass produced in a matter of minutes, of course). Then, India will say “hey China, Mexico, and all of you guys making cheap, yet valuable, goods, I think there’s a high demand for this crap. We should really charge more for it.” And then they’ll all realize that, in fact, they’re special and have the infrastructure and technical knowledge to control the cost of the world’s valuable goods. The price of shoes will skyrocket. Then my jeans will cost a month’s salary, like they currently do in Bolivia. One thing will lead to another and someone besides newly poverty stricken Europe or the destitute States will take over the world military responsibilities to keep us all safe. They’ll probably do a much better job at it too.

Nicaragua or Bolivia will start offering red-cross health workshops for all of the carpal-tunnel-syndromed, heart-attacked Americans that are now also poor. All of the current American and European-owned companies will quickly be bought out by the rapidly developing- developing countries. In our cities that are considered stable, such as Westwood and Manhattan, they’ll answer our desperate pleas to construct sweatshops so we can have some form of income to feed our starving children. We’ll all try to sneak across the border to work in factories in Mexico. They’ll pay us extra low wages and then they’ll construct a wall to control the illegal immigration.

Just a thought. Anyway, gotta get back to my DNA replication and the statistical analysis of my data.


Anonymous said...

Read "The World Is Flat" By Thomas Friedman...he strengthens your point.

Greg said...

Great post Laura! I agree that we often take these things for granted. It really is easy to see how Europe is changing around us right now and will be forced to change even further. Interestng times await...