[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Image by _Robert C_ via Flickr"][/caption]
Yes, I'm still in Vegas and I suppose that has me thinking about how out of place I am here. I never feel more like a New Yorker than when I enter the upside-down world that is Las Vegas. My stupidly somber clothes of black and brown clash with the pastel mini skirts and stiletto heels that constitute daily attire for everyone between the ages of 10 and 75. Here people openly drink breakfast, gamble away tons of money, and seem to have not gotten the memo that allowing thousands of people to chain smoke in enclosed spaces is not a good idea.
But hearing the news from Wall St. today strikes me as obvious evidence that New York's a lot closer to Vegas than I realized.
CNNMoney.com Market Report - May. 4, 2009.
You see, Wall St. is going up based on the better-than-expected housing market. Some are even predicting that the economy has bottomed out and the recovery is nigh.
Excuse my ridiculously somber attitude (and clothes), but that seems like the same sort of magical thinking that gathers so many people in Vegas to try their luck at slot machines and poker. In other words, an economic recovery is a magical idea, based on the assumption that even without fixing everything that went wrong with our economy in the past 30 years, we can still somehow win this thing. Just like you might win at the casinos. Yeah, right.
Gambling at a slot machine is about as likely to produce long term financial stability as an economy based on consumption (70% of our GDP) as opposed to production. Playing some black jack is as good at producing wealth as unregulated greed through the credit industry and out-of-control executive salaries.
I'm not saying Wall St. won't go up, and that up might last for a couple of years. After all, you can win at the casinos too, at least for a while. But eventually, a system that is meant to extract wealth from most of us to produce huge profits for a handful (casinos, consumer capitalism) will not be able to sustain us. It will not provide housing or healthcare or good schools or a clean environment. So before you go and bet the farm because Wall St. is happy, remember that gambling the shirt off your back is not a great plan for the future.