Well Nowarezman skirted politics, but the post stays because there aren't any value judgements or boosterism of "one side or the other" involved. They're simply possible predictions.
I was watching a series of travel videos by a guy on YouTube, who had been to almost every country in the world. He was coming to the conclusion that generally, happiness was NOT proportional to wealth, and that some of the poorest societies were also the happiest. Apparently human interaction, community, cooking, and the arts brought people far more happiness than BMWs, yachts, and mansions.
Personal perspective: There was a run of years where I made a lot of money. I didn't really get to enjoy it, because almost all of it went to taking care of a dying, estranged wife who was sick for over a decade, and paying the mortgage on a house that's now in foreclosure. I'm living in an inexpensive investment condo that my daughter owns. When Gibson fired me along with a zillion other people, my severance was 3 weeks. I drive a 20-year-old used car. My HVAC is over 20 years old, and will need to be replaced soon.
I've never been happier in my entire life.
When my estranged wife died, and I could no longer pay the mortgage on what was supposed to be a dream house and investment for the future, I realized just how little money I actually needed to live. I realized that the universal currency isn't money, it's time - whether you're rich or poor, an hour lasts exactly 60 minutes. It's up to you to decide how to spend those 60 minutes. Some people are much better at spending time than others, and the best time-spenders aren't necessarily the richest folks. That's because a lot of rich people think that money is worth more than time. It isn't.
Because I don't need to earn to earn so much, I don't need to work so much. Which means I have more time to play music, and play in the kitchen with my girlfriend. I take more time to call people. I talk to my daughter just about every day, so I have a front-row seat to a fascinating and intelligent human being. I can sleep in, or stay up late, if I want. Some days I make money, some days I don't.
Do I want a fancy car? No, it costs more, the insurance is more, repairs are more, registration is more. How about a fancy house? The mortgage is more, maintenance is more, property taxes are more, and either you have to spend more time taking care of it (which you can't, because you have to make the money to maintain it) or pay someone else to do it.
Do I need a gym membership? Walking is free, and I get to say hi to the neighbors, or take a walk with a friend. There are plenty of swimmable lakes around here for long swims, and the condo has a pool.
Do I need a giant curved-screen TV? There's not enough worth watching to justify it, and if there's a really spectacular movie, I'll go to the iMax theater and be in a place where other humanoid bipeds are cheering, laughing, having tears well up, and getting emotionally involved.
What about eating out? Frankly, you can make healthier food at home...which you can do if you have time, rather than spending that time making enough money to eat out.
I'm building back my pre-Gibson career, slowly but surely. I expect I won't be broke much longer, and my income will ramp up. BUT I am not going to make ramping up income the goal. That will simply be a by-product of my learning to spend time more wisely, on things I love to do, that don't make as much money but are a helluva lot more fun.
Maybe this will happen to more people when we return to "normal," whatever that is.