Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Options Generation

"Give a man a fish and you've fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and, if he turns into a dry-fly catch-and-release angling fanatic up to his liver in icy water wearing ridiculous waders and an absurd hat, pestering trout with 3-pound test line on a $1,000 graphite rod, and going on endlessly about Royal Coachman lures that he tied himself using muskrat fur and partridge feathers…well, at least his life partner is glad to have him out of the house."

-- P. J. O'Rourke on Baby Boomers

The Wall Street Journal comes out about every week with one five-star commentary.  This week, this piece by O'Rourke on baby boomers, and their wrecking affect on modern society.

I read through the entire piece, and kinda agree.

Options.....or rather....too many options, is killing modern society today.

Home projects used to come in limited scales.  You could do a new carport, renovate a bathroom, or update your kitchen....at least back in the 1980s.  Today?  There are several thousand options....brought to you by renovation TV, renovation books, and magazine articles.  Guys will put up sheds in the backyard that house only their prized six-thousand-dollar mower.  Some folks will toss thousands to put up a Amazon Rainforest shower.

Camping used to be simple.  A guy would pull out the $89-tent and associated equipment, then plan a simple three-day trip to some state park four hundred miles away.  Today?  There's a thousand-dollar tent, the forty-thousand-dollar RV, or the fancy trailer....which he totes to a national park which is three states away....planning a mammoth of a camping trip.  Satellite TV?  There's always an antenna on most RVs these days.  Some guys will have two TVs rigged up in an RV.

The wife will say it's time for a vacation.  In 1980....you agreed to drive to Florida and spend four days at some beachside hotel.  Today?  You agree to sign up for a fancy voyage on some cruise ship that will take you to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica (where you will smoke a lot of weed).

Guitar lessons?  Folks used to accept a few simple lessons from some local guy who knew six tunes, and that was enough for learning purposes.  Today?  You'd have to drive forty miles, accept only lessons from a guy who used to play with Johnny Cash or has a degree in music from Texas Tech.

Grass seed for the front yard?  In 1980, there were likely eight versions down at the local lawn shop in your town.  Gus, the guy at the counter....knew nothing about grass, but always voiced an opinion based on the wording of the package.  Today?  There's forty different grass versions, and some shops might have a hundred types.  Gus has a turf-management degree, and talks for four hours to you about the choice of grass options.

Coke, used to come in Coke....the only version.  Then came Diet Coke.  Today, there's at least fifteen different versions of Coke....including Cherry Coke.

A guy used to wake up at 6AM and have three choices of network early morning news....which all led only to local news for an hour, then some limits on national news for an hour or two.  Today?  There's probably fifteen different early morning options.  You could even watch European business news if you got really challenged, or some Tokyo midnight news updates if you felt really different today.

I agree with O'Rourke.  The trouble is....we aren't going to revert back to old ways.  And I'm not sure we've even hit a peak on options.  Who knows....maybe there are guys who'd jump up in Bama, and go drive for seven days to the boonies of Canada, pitch a three-thousand dollar tent in dense grizzly territory, and accept Canadian beer as an alternate type to Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Phase Two

There's a news piece out there today....someone asked President Obama what his plans were....after 2016 when he leaves office.

Curiously, he said he's likely staying in DC.  This kinda shocked the folks asking the question, just my humble opinion.

Typically by this point....various foundations would have come out and offered you a paying job of sorts.  You make some speeches and go to some conferences....just to mingle and shake hands.  It appears that no foundation has approached the President yet.  Because of the toxic atmosphere....it's possible that no four-star foundation wants to walk into some mess in 2017.

Most Presidents return "home".  This was true for the majority of Presidents over the past fifty years.  President Clinton ended up in New York state....mostly to help Hillary achieve Senator-status.  Course, he spent an awful lot of time traveling, and making speeches for various foundations.

Jimmy Carter went back to Georgia and worked for several foundations.....doing charity work, and writing books.

Where does an ex-President live in DC?  Well.....that's an interesting question.  The only decent and safe part of town...is the Georgetown area....in the northwest part of town.  Homes generally run at a million or above.  Fancy homes run three to five million.  DC cops run active patrols in Georgetown, and ensure the safety of the local folks.

He says that this is all to help his daughter finish up her last year or two of high school.  But it lays out a frustrating issue of what he intends to do with his time.

University professor work?  No.  There are several university operations in DC.....Georgetown University is one of them.  But it's hard to see him standing in some class and delivering a lecture, which is ninety-nine percent political speech.  No chancellor could explain this as being acceptable with a straight face.

Acting as a lobbyists?  Well, I'm thinking he might be convinced that he could be the lobbyists of lobbyists.  He might be convinced (wrongly) that someone would pay him a salary......to lobby things to Senators.  At the current rate of things in 2017.....there will be roughly forty to forty-five Democratic Senators.  Most who've survived the election episodes....won't be happy with his style or his efforts.  They will care little about him playing the lobbyist game.

His Presidential library?  Well, it hasn't come up yet, and I'm guessing the folks in Hawaii were really hoping on it being there.  The folks in Chicago?  Same.  I have a suspicious nature, and suspect that the Presidential library will end up at Georgetown University.  I'm probably the only one thinking that.

A hinderance for the House, Senate and the next President, by staying in DC?  Well, it invites issues.  Some Sunday morning chat show will be eyeballing the chance to bring in such an ex-President as a commentary person at least once a month.  Especially, if the 2017 President is a Republican.

Some Democratic Senators may have had "enough" of the President after eight years.  It's hard to say if they'd feel happy with him in their hunting-grounds.

Dinners in the local area?  If you were the British Embassy, or some big-name foundation in the area.....you'd have to consider inviting the ex-President if he's living in the local area.  I could see dozens of dinners per year.....put into a position where they invite him.

Writing a book?  Most folks think the book-writing ability of the President is non-existent, and he's only produced via a ghost-writer of sorts.  If he goes to writing another book....he'd likely have to return to the original ghost-writer, or admit he just can't write.

All of this idle gossip likely comes because he's come to some conclusion on the end of the Presidency.  Eight years is a long time for a guy to occupy one job....working fifty to sixty hours a week, and maybe it concretes you to a new lifestyle.  Maybe you can't be the old guy....because it's just not dynamic enough.

Anyway.....expect some real estate guy to be hunting for a four-star house in Georgetown.  Life in the neighborhood....may never be the same.