Growing up during the Great Recession, when Gainesville City Schools could not afford textbooks or even sufficient tissue paper for that matter, I am skeptical of overspeculated markets and wary of bubbles (hint: our economy is full of them).
If you’ve actually been watching stock prices, you’ll see that many, particularly Silicon Valley Big Data companies, are going haywire right now. This is not a surprise, given that they are built upon sand and fraudulent behavior, but it is something that does not bode well for our national economy, to put it mildly.
It is also clear that while employment is on the rise, the quality of many jobs throughout the country, particularly relative to huge increases in cost of living, has created a vice grip on many working class families in the country.
Let me put it more frankly than that even. When the next crash comes, and you bet it will and I believe in 2019, I am deeply concerned about the preservation of the social fabric of this country (the unraveling of which will then leave us vulnerable to international bad actors).
Social indicators are already looking grim, and our economy, at least on paper, is booming. But what happens when the economy tanks?
If people hate each other so much now, if places are being shot up every time I check the news, if racial groups and political ideologies are showing open disgust and hatred toward one another, what happens when people lose their jobs, their houses, their livelihoods?
Before 2008, people liked each other a heck of a lot better than now. What happens, with the next crash, now that our skeletons are all out of the closet? What happens when the chickens of societal failure to root out corruption and reckless greed finally comes home to roost? What happens now that the Pandora’s Box of hatred that had been opened up by Trump’s (and Hillary Clinton’s with her “deplorables comment,” to be sure) historically negative 2016 campaign?
I hope I’m wrong. I really do. But to be honest, I don’t think I am.
Some of the top minds in the world, that being the professors at Harvard University where I recently earned a degree, are concerned about what the near future holds. The tech bubble looks ready to pop. As do student loans. As do housing markets in major cities throughout the world.
Apathy, ambivalence, and, frequently, pure hostility seem to dominate our society. So I ask again, what happens when the next crash comes?
When it happens, it will be hard. But from the wreckage I hope that we build a new sort of national understanding. As Jimmy Carter, reviled as he is by some for whatever reason, said during his presidency in the late ’70s: there is a problem with the soul of our country.
While we have been taught that we can buy our problems away, I will go on the record as saying there is nothing that is further from the truth.
When the next crash comes, I hope that instead of chaos, there will be an understanding that this bipolar boom-bust cycle of overspeculation and painful contraction is a cancer to our nation and to our world.
I hope that we will use this as an opportunity to let the poison out of our system. I hope we will realize that the money, money, money mentality is only good when that money is used for something meaningful. Things for things’ sake do not buy happiness.
While we should not glorify the hardships of poverty, we should remember the dignity of the working class and should abhor greed, even and especially when it comes wrapped up in a designer suit. Or designer uniform gray shirts, as the case may be.
In this era of worshiping the tech demi-gods and financial prophets, when their reckoning finally comes I hope that we will remember that there is only one God, and his name is not Zuckerberg, Bezos, Musk or Schwartzman.
Loving Gainesville and Georgia as I do, I hope that we are insulated from the effects of what looks almost certain to happen.
This is a special region and I believe once Silicon Valley’s bubble bursts, along with many others, there will be leagues of opportunities for smaller communities around the country to finally claim their slice of the pie. Even then, taking a page from our hometown hero Deshaun Watson’s book, I hope we stay humble and hungry, never smug and complacent. And my ultimate hope is that we will remember, when dark days come, that there will always be something to be thankful for.
Community, family, values, faith, tolerance mutual understanding, love our shared humanity despite superficial differences. Let us embrace these values and reject the primal, predatory greed that has emboldened the powerful for far too long.
Our leaders didn’t learn our lesson last time. I hope and pray that this time, when the next crash comes, they finally will.
Will Morris IV is a graduate of Gainesville High School and Harvard University.