Thank you for visiting our website

Featuring breaking political news and commentary on local, state, and national issues.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Time" for a Change?

Ken Kerr Bio

As a boy, I dreamed of time travel—anywhere, anyplace, anytime had to be better. HG Wells provided me with the details and imagined for me the possibility of moving backward and forward to escape the mediocrity and tedium of my adolescence.

I now believe that it is only practical to move backward in time. Our world is moving at such a bewildering pace that the jobs we have today are often not there tomorrow. The careers college kids are studying for may not exist when they are finished preparing for them. A middle-aged, middle American from 2008 suddenly placed in 2033 would be lost. Without the gradual exposure to changes in technology and culture, he or she would be of little use in a future America. No, we can only go back.

In the past, our 21st Century knowledge and skills would serve us well. In the past, we could be pretty darned impressive.

Gregg Easterbrook, in his 2004 book, The Progress Paradox, challenges his readers to participate in a thought experiment:

"If the means existed, would you exchange places with a typical person living in any year before your birth? Exchange places permanently—not, say, observe the Battle of Hastings and then rematerialize in the present. You could pick the year and place in the past, but you could not specify trading places with someone specific like Catherine the Great or Leonardo da Vinci, and you could not specify that you would be a lord or lady or hold similar advantage. In this deal, you'd be transported back to live out the rest of your life as an ordinary person."

I'll let you think about that for a bit . . .

You probably came up with a favorite historical period and event you wanted to witness, a golden age in a special place where life was less complicated and more pure. The more you think, the greater the detail you begin to fill in. You begin to realize what you'd have to give up. You'll soon come to realize that the sacrifice would be too dear. Almost all of us would choose to stay right where and when we are.

Easterbrook reminds us, "A century ago, the rich lived in heated houses, rode in carriages, traveled the world, enjoyed unlimited food and wine, had access to physicians, attained college educations, attended the theater for entertainment, and if engaged in gainful work, did so in a comfortable office."

Wait a minute. That sounds like me. It probably sounds like you, too. Why would I go back a hundred years to an unheated farm house wondering about the next meal and rarely having access to a doctor? I'd have to walk everywhere I wanted to go—which would have been fewer than 50 miles from the place of my birth for my entire life—and work really hard every day. I'd be lucky to live to 50, keep my teeth, have indoor plumbing, or complete high school.

Things in the United States are pretty bad right now, the worst many of us have experienced or can remember—and they are likely to get worse before they get better. UCLA's Anderson School of Management reports that over 2 million of us lost our jobs in 2008. The Gallup organization reports that more of us are worried about our standard of living than were in the 1991 recession. The current Secretary of the Treasury has no clue what to do with the $700 billion he asked for, and the Big Three auto makers are circling the drain. However, since the election of Barack Obama, those thinking optimistically about our country have risen by 20%--and he has yet to take office.

So, I wouldn't trade my typical American existence for typical existence with anyone, or any time, or anyplace. I'll stay right where I am, and have confidence in us to get things right again. For those of you still entertaining the idea of time transplantation, I have two words . . . modern dentistry.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

No comments: