"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why "the Rodney Dangerfield economy"?

A respectable young academic who's got his facts straight wonders why the economy, like the immortal Rodney, "gets no respect." Despite the best overall numbers in a long time, nobody seems bouyant. The author suggests that it's dat' ol' nemesis, liberal MSM bias, not wanting President Bush and the Republicans to get the credit. That's part of it, I'm sure. But not the main part.

The main part is that Americans know our lifestyle is not indefinitely sustainable. Every day, we consume lakes of fossil fuel and produce mountains of garbage. By any number of measures, the planetary ecosystem is degrading. Rents and home prices trend up no matter how much housing is built. The family continues to unravel. Health care and decent education get ever costlier. Of course material objects such as clothes and electronics are getting cheaper, relative to incomes, since their makers always move to countries where the labor is cheapest. That's why we have a stratospheric trade deficit. But even as we acquire more and more, we seem to have less and less time to enjoy it. We all know, deep down, that something is very wrong. But nothing really changes because we can't agree on how to change it. And we're more interested in playing the blame game while we eat our share of the pie.

Nothing will change unless we really come to believe that loving God and neighbor is more important than anything else we do or anything that happens to us. It's not easy to attain such love. In fact, it's a gift not an attainment. We can only receive it in faith. And we can receive nothing from God without the humility to know that, next to him, we are nothing and have nothing to boast of. I think that's the hardest part for all of us. Americans especially.

One place to start on that is with humor. Like Rodney's. Here's a true story about him. (I will not reveal the source for legal reasons.)

One night in Manhattan, a young comedian opened for Rodney Dangerfield at a well-known comedy club. At the intermission between his routine and Rodney's, the customers had so crowded the bathrooms that he had to go outside to the alleyway to take a leak. As he was doing so against the brick wall, none other than Rodney sidled up next to him and proceeded to do the same. Once they were working in tandem, Rodney broke the ice: "Well kid, welcome to the big time."
blog comments powered by Disqus