Sunday, June 09, 2002

The central problem with this Michael Lewis piece is that the facts aren't all on his side. Lewis loves to make sweeping generalizations, and he's good at that...but his analysis of the effect "millionaire youth" has had on our culture neglects to mention the fact that porportionately almost no one in the dot-com boom became millionaires. The idea that there was ever huge numbers of 27 year-olds with massive capitalizations was fueled by NEWSWEEK and WIRED, and never by numbers. Same goes for investment banking--sure, WALL STREET made it look ubiquitous, but there's a gap between that and reality. I wish that he'd paid some service to that fact.

Otherwise, a lot of what Lewis says makes sense, and echoes thoughts I've had about the death of the ride. The anecdotal evidence I've seen so far, which is of course totally unscientific, leads me to believe that my generation will emerge a richer, more prepared, more interesting posse for its experiences in the dot-com boom, and you'll see more and more people "reverse selling out"--becoming more aware of social and economic issues that matter to them as they get older, which could make them a potent force. Lewis neglects that the greatest problem with radicals is that as they age, they lose their convictions. But if the force behind a movement ignited and burned stronger the older they that's something I'd like to see applied to better use than the AARP.

On the other hand, this article by David Brooks in the same issue does an outstanding job of tracing the arc of American largesse, and rather than having a kneejerk guilt reaction is delves deeper into looking at what the effect all this affluence has had on us as a people--I was particularly pleased by Brooks' noting of how excessive options and abundance creates a kind of nervous hypertension that stresses people out as they try to cram more work, more fun, MORE WORK, MORE FUN! into each and every day. Check it out.

Okay, I'm off to brunch.