While the market melts down, I’ve been mulling over the underlying economic philosophy. I’ve come to the conclusion that America’s on the star system.
One of the reason Hollywood’s a place of dreams is that a star can come from nowhere to become wealthy, well-known, wonderful. All it takes is looks, talent – and luck. The thing is, the stars shine brilliantly. Others – much less so. Los Angeles is full of hopefuls in low wage jobs between acting gigs.
The star system seems to be the paradigm for large chunks of the US economy nowadays. A small number of people win wealth and status. Others are sustained by hard work and hope.
The winners’ winnings are of the order of hundreds of millions of dollars. Someone explained to me the concept of “stupid rich” – You keep getting richer no matter how stupid you are, because your wealth grows faster than you can spend it.
The wannabees are at maybe a few million. And the losers – well, most Americans – have a few thousand, maybe a few hundred thousand, or maybe even negative net worth. America’s workers haven’t gotten wealthy in the last decade; in real terms, particularly factoring in healthcare costs and job insecurity, they have been running to stay even.
But the point is, someone who’s a “loser” today could easily be a winner next year. That’s what keeps it all together. That’s the real American Dream: Not that anyone could be President, but that anyone could become really really REALLY rich.