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Financial stability will be the new status symbol. Forget the big house, the boat, the expensive car; sexy is money in the bank and the monthly statements to prove it.

A Dave Ramsey wet dream. I wish you were right, but I'm pessimistic. Though personally I'm with you that in a perfect world that is how it should be. The wise and solid among us may pick up on this though.

Jobs will be seen more as jobs and less as vehicles to self-fulfillment.

My dad was a UPS man. So growing up, the job was always just a job -- a means to an end. Selling mattresses wasn't what I wanted to do when I grew up, but it pays the bills pretty well, and I do have some feelers out for other employment opportunities. While everybody else is moping, I plan on trying to make my next move (I'm an optimist like that.)

Several professional sports franchises will fold or be sold under financial duress -- hopefully hockey, but you never know.

You can only hope. Especially hockey teams in southern markets. Do Atlanta and Nashville really need hockey?

Society's tolerance for ridiculous bullshit of all kinds will decrease. Marihuana will be legalized, gay marriage will be recognized, and schools will stop teaching self-esteem, just to name three.

Marijuana, will be someday, but a generation from now. Gay marriage, it's on its way, I give it 15 years. But self esteem in school will unfortunately always be taught. Our educators will never give up their goal of raising an entire generation of pussies.

People you know will take jobs in China.

Maybe, as part of globalization in general. But if you think things here are bad, in China they're exponentially worse.

Plans for the George W. Bush library will be scaled back until it is exactly one square foot bigger than his father's.

Maybe. Clinton's already snagged all the good foreign donors.

No one will buy $3 bran muffins.

Yeah, and I'll give up my Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Tom, I think they slipped some of that "Marihuana" as you call it, in your muffin.
Go home. Put some music on. Turn on your TV but activate the mute button. We'll talk to you tomorrow.

In my own musings, I wonder what the consumer landscape will look like as we come out the other end of this downturn. When people have to cut back, which institutions will no longer survive? For example, if you have to choose between your cell and landline phones, which would you choose? Business users have some advantages with landline, but the residential landline phone service might end. I assume other institutions that have stuck around out of inertia, like department stores and newspapers, won't survive. I don't get why people pay $100 a month for cable TV but I don't see a massive dropoff either.

Responding to some of your final points:

Financial stability will be the new status symbol. People don't fantasize about those who are just getting by. Even if it's unreachable for almost all of us, sexy will still be extravagant. After 9/11 there was a meme out there about police and firefighters being the new sex icons instead of pretty boy actors and rock stars. Just as that didn't happen, being able to afford a normal lifestyle isn't going to be sexy.

Several professional sports franchises will fold or be sold under financial duress -- hopefully hockey, but you never know. The difficulty here is that many taxpayers are on the hook for arenas and stadiums. And team owners have gotten some nice tax breaks in exchange for long term leases. So the first change in professional sports is the end of "Build me a new stadium or I'll move the team" blackmail. No city is going to agree to build a new facility to attract a team so no city will build a new one to keep theirs.

It will be interesting to see what happens to teams if the high priced skyboxes and club seats no longer sell. That could cause a revenue crash.

Hockey will survive, although I wouldn't rule out a contraction of the NHL. Hockey doesn't attract a large audience but its fans are fanatical about the local team. The snag to contraction will be taxpayer-funded arenas where the NHL team is the primary tenant.

Society's tolerance for ridiculous bullshit of all kinds will decrease. This makes sense but we have to find out how much inertia is behind the outdated institutions. A lot of useless dinosaur institutions have lobbyists who will push to keep the status quo in things like pot laws to keep from being cut back in areas like prison guard employment.

No one will buy $3 bran muffins. Boutiques and boutique items won't disappear. As long as people are willing to buy $3 muffins, somebody will make them and sell them. I stopped going to movie theaters when Netflix came around but I don't see the movie theater business collapsing. It just means somebody else is going. You might give up $3 bran muffins and someone else just can't give them up.

I think the sort of cultural shift Tom is predicting requires a far worse economy crash than we're receiving (and the kind that might actually be worth the debt we're about to toss on our great-grandchildren's backs). The 25% unemployment of the Great Depression was a horrendously scarring national experience that still leaves many of today's old people incapable of throwing junk of any conceivable use in the garbage. We're still under 8%.

When cities stop underwriting sports teams corporations will fill the void. We have been headed for a "Rollerball" scenario in sports ownership for a while now. This brings up the question of why it is a legitimate expense for a bank to buy the name of an arena or a bowl game. Nike, I can understand, but The R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl?

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