It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

March 26, 2013 · 22 comments

Screen shot 2013-03-26 at Mar 26, 2013, 12.23.22 AM

I can’t go a day without reading a blog post or news article that predicts the end of the United States as we know it. Some people even stocking up on ammunition, bottled water, and canned food, convinced the zombie apocalypse economic Armageddon is coming.

I get it. It’s not uncommon for me to hear an older Christian person say something like “The world is really going to hell in a hand basket. This must be a sign that the rapture is upon us.” Assuming their generation will be the one in which Christ returns. I’ve got news for them. They’ve been wrong 2,013 years and counting.

Maybe you aren’t Christian so that example isn’t relatable. Let me make it more personal.

On numerous occasions I’ve had this feeling that I was going to die young. Not necessarily tomorrow, but in my 30′s or 40′s. After sharing this morbid feeling with a handful of friends, it turns out they too have thought the exact same thing. Apparently this feeling is pretty common. In fact, I bet most of you have also felt at some point that your days would be cut short. Am I right?

I mean, who hasn’t gotten on a plane and thought “What if this thing goes down?” Our brain tells us we might die, but statistics show us our fear is completely ridiculous. We are significantly more likely to die from drowning, electrocution, or even falling down. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I might die when I walk down my stairs each morning, but it definitely crosses my mind when I buckle up on a plane.

I think I know why….

We get irrational when we don’t have control.

Yeah the plane could go down, but it probably wont. I could die in my 30′s, but I probably wont. The United States could cease to be an economic powerhouse during my lifetime, but it probably wont.

Who knows. Maybe I’m naive? This is my first recession as an adult after all. But my understanding is that the markets have crashed before. Politicians have acted irresponsibly before. And people have predicted America’s fall from power before.

I guess I need some of you “old folks” to chime in here and give your two cents. Is it different this time? Are we in a perfect storm? Or is it just another rainy day that has seemed to cloud our judgement?

For the record: I do think things will change over time, and tough times ate ahead, just not in a collapse-of-the-Roman-Empire-kind of way.

{ 22 comments }

1 Daisy @ Young Finances

Lack of control is the scariest thing. I think most of us feel like doomsday is approaching simply because there’s no way of ever really, 100% knowing before it happens. It’s scary for everyone if it DOES happen, and maybe we’re all preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.

2 Jennifer

Well, as I mentioned in a prior post, I’m an optimist, so take this with that in mind, ha ha!

I think every “older” generation thinks the world is going to hell in a handbasket. With the passing of time some of our bad memories of tough times from the past tend to soften or fade a little. For instance I remember the gas crisis in the 70′s and being scared my dad would lose his job (I was like 10, why was I worried about that?). In the 80′s I was petrified that the Russians were going to bomb us and movies like War Games and Red Dawn didn’t help. There’s always been fear that things are crashing to utter destruction, and so far it’s all turned out fine.

I personally don’t believe that what we are going through now is financial armegeddon or anything else to completely lose our minds over. I think with struggles come opportunity, and I do believe we will weather this economic crisis and come out the other side strong again. Only to have another recession somewhere down the road. :)

3 TB at BlueCollarWorkman

I don’t know if I qualify as an ‘old folk’ but in general I agree. Life continues on, even when we dont’ have control. But as far as ‘murica falling down and not being a powerhouse, well dude, hate to tell ya, but that definitely will happen. World history, that’s actually something I do remember from highschool. Societies, countries, and all that rise and fall. Sometimes they last just a little bit, sometimes they last al ong time,… I can’t say how long the US will last as a great power, who knows, but from history I know that power comes and goes all the time. England used to be super powerful dude, and now look at those impotent snaggle toothed wackos…of course, they lost power but still exist. I just hope when ‘murica falls that we still exist!

4 Emily

America is a wonderful country and has achieved amazing things. It has a long way to go though, and I think the sense of supremacy evident in comments such as ‘impotent snaggle toothed wackos’ is what will be its downfall. Perhaps it was intended to be tongue in cheek and I’ve misread but it’s this kind of attitude which breeds the kind of hatred of the US that you just don’t find of other countries.

5 Larry

In the US, people pay thousands to straighten their teeth. In Japan, the latest craze is to go snaggle-toothed.

6 Grayson @ Debt RoundUp

We will still be around and are pretty resilient people. Though we might lose some powers because of our internal bickering, it won’t push us down to nothing. I can’t say much about the zombies though, we all have to be prepared for those SOB’s.

7 Kevin @ RewardBoost.com

The idea that the US government may experience a collapse is not just a feeling one gets on a plane. There is a lot of data and a lot of history that suggests it might happen.

I bet the Roman Empire never thought it would fall. And the British Empire. And all the other previous world powers who said, “Sure it happened to those other guys in the past, we we’re DIFFERENT!”

We are getting close to $17 trillion in debt. The federal reserve is inflating the money supply at ridiculous rates. Europe is on the brink of financial collapse (just look at the extreme measures in Cyprus if you don’t think it’s that bad). America can’t stop fighting wars and wasting people lives and the country’s resources overseas, and perpetual war isn’t going to stop because our citizens have accepted it as the normal way of things. More people are on unemployment and food stamps than ever in the history of our country, and it’s not even close.

We are already borrowing over 40 cents for every dollar the government spends, and every day more people are retiring and wanting Social Security and Medicare, while other able bodied adults are not working and instead relying on government benefits to survive.

Other republics have fallen because they have overstretched their military, gone overboard spending resources on social programs, and their fiat currencies was inflated to the point of unsustainability. America has all of those problems right now.

If anyone can figure out how this is a sustainable path, I’d love to hear it. I haven’t heard any solutions to all the problems I just mentioned. The response is “don’t worry, that’s not a big deal.” Call me crazy but I think all those things are big deals.

8 StackingCash

I totally agree with ya. IMHO, I believe we as a country get away with “murder” because we are still a militarily powerful nation with our nuclear arsenal. No one is going to tell us what we can or cannot do. Unlike puny Cyprus versus Germany, the boss of the EU.

9 David Hunter

Thank you!! I could not have said it better.

10 SavvyFinancialLatina

I don’t believe in all the hoopla. I just continue living. :)

11 StackingCash

I wish I had more time this morning, I’ll have to get back here tonight. This subject has been on my mind for a long time.

12 Everyone

Everyone feels like they will die young. Every.Single.Person. in the world has had that thought at one time or another.

13 mollyjade

There was an interesting story on NPR recently about how uncertainty (like our economic uncertainty right now) makes people plan for catastrophic events. It’s mentally easier to stockpile 30 years of food than face daily worry about the mortgage.

14 krantcents

Older people have those feelings too! The difference is there is a good reason for the feelings. When people of a similar age that you know, it reminds you are mortal.

15 Hannah

I had a conversation with my mom about the end of the world in like 2009 and she said “It’s always been the end of the world since I was little girl and look I’m old and wrinkly and you guys are grown.” Made sense.

And I was at a mom and pop liquor store and the owner and a customer who were both super old were talking about piling up guns and supplies and it being the end of the world. I was thinking “You guys are freggin’ 80! What are you worrying about, you’ve lived!”

And funny you brought the whole dying young part up, I’m super paranoid about that too, except I’m thinking cancer or some weird medical condition (knock on wood).

All in all, I’ll continue living, enjoying and of course saving. And I love Amurica, visiting third world countries and even Europe always solidifies that. I can’t control our government spending, but I can control mine and I think everyone should live each day like it’s a gift.

16 Ryan

I think it’s interesting that people seemed more scared than ever, but in reality we’re safer than ever.

Violent crime has been dropping for decades. Cars are safer and drinking and driving fatalities are down. There’s no world wars. Countries seem to be getting along with each other better (except North Korea!) Medical advances prolong our lives everyday. Etc.

This isn’t to say we won’t face challenges, but I think people are too fearful overall. The sky’s not falling.

17 Arlingtonwoman

Apropos of nothing, your other site just got flamed on Jezebel – http://jezebel.com/5992357/meet-manterest-the-pinterest-for-dudes

18 Ninja

Yeah, kind of funny. Gawker wrote essentially the same piece a year ago so it’s nothing new to us. We are getting hammered with new user signups and traffic so I guess it’s true, no such thing as bad press.

19 Larry

I’m sure there were times when I was a kid and wanted to kill myself, but my greater fears at close to age 65 are growing old and: a) not being able to support myself (even though statistically I’m in at least the upper 20% in net worth), b) facing ill health or incapacity (even though I’m in reasonably good shape medically despite too much poundage), and/or c) not accomplishing the kinds of creative work I envisioned for myself when much younger (even though I continue to write and intend to do so more aggressively after retirement). I do fear death, not because I believe in an afterlife, but because obviously at my age my lifespan is well over 50% complete, and I have had friends and acquaintances who have died as young as 55, 60, 69.

As for the country, I agree with Kevin and TB above that some decline in America’s power and influence is almost inevitable in this century. The Roman Empire, Britain, Spain, even Holland are all examples of great civilizations that have been greatly diminished following brief periods of domination. The difference is that the U.S. was founded on ideals that have had huge world-wide influence, and no country in history has had a higher standard of living than ours or has been so greatly admired, hated, and envied.

But I do not agree in attributing all our difficulties to the national debt. Debt matters, but so do income inequality, unemployment, and poverty. The only time in history we wiped out the national debt was under Andrew Jackson in 1835, and his policies led to the Panic of 1837. We took on tremendous debt in WW2, but as Krugman writes, this debt “was never repaid; it just became increasingly irrelevant as the U.S. economy grew, and with the income subject to taxation.”

While these past decades have seen considerable (if insufficient) social progress – for blacks, women, and gays, at the same time we have also experienced an alarming spread in income and net worth, and a virtual lack of social mobility. We are told over and over that taxes must be reduced on the top earners because they are the “job creators,” but the so-called job creators don’t want to bother creating jobs, and a society that concentrates so high a degree of its assets in the hands of a tiny favored few is not a society that is healthy economically. The great era of American capitalism, that is the decades following WW2, was also the period when marginal tax rates were at their highest and the middle class was most prosperous.

Distrust of government has become so endemic, even unquestioned, in some quarters that we forget how much government has done for this country throughout its history. Worse yet, we have gone from a nation that has historically believed in government-funded accomplishment – such as the New Deal, the GI Bill, the Marshall Plan, the Interstate Highway System, space exploration, the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, the Peace Corps, even Obamacare with all its faults – to a nation that no longer believes it can accomplish anything because of its crippling and distorted obsession with debt to the exclusion of all other economic factors. That, more than the amount of debt per se, is what’s killing this nation.

20 StackingCash

Well said, Larry!

I do believe there is a great deal of corruption happening at all levels of government, unfortunately. From the powerful corporations to the public and private unions, there just seems to be an opportunity for dishonesty to happen anywhere and anytime. It is worse now more than ever because the internet can easily expose all. For instance, this website, http://transparentnevada.com/, details the salaries of public employees in Nevada. Some are fair, but others seem a tad too generous. WikiLeaks and Anonymous can be dangerous forces in this unstable world. All it takes is a “spread of income and net worth” plus a little social media and bam, Arab Spring, or in our case a class warfare revolution. Like your example of that 20 year old homeless kid, how many more will it take to realize there is a problem in our country. Check out this article, http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2012/February/Ketchup-Kids-Help-Principal-Find-True-Calling-/ Ketchup soup=craziness! Good thing that it went public so they found relief, but come on, how can such things happen in this awesome country of ‘murica! People should not be lacking so much here, I feel the rich are being excessively greedy and don’t care enough to help make this country as great as it used to be. How much money can corporations and individuals hoard before we have this happen…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Revolution.

I’m probably over thinking this like you said, too much reading bad news on the internet. I should go stick my head in the sand. Ignorance is truly bliss.

21 anon

Not sure about the world ending, but you made Yahoo News in Canada today!

Here’s the link:

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/right-click/manteresting-pinterest-designed-especially-men-162401660.html

22 Elena@ STD Alert

This post is genius and so true! Since the dawn of time people have been waiting with fear for the end of the world. But guess what? I am not going to worry about something I can’t control. It might never happen in my life time or never-ever or in 3,000 years, so why should I worry about it? No reason! Enjoy every day while it lasts. Period!

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