Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Last Call?

For some reason, this evening, reality evolved into near perfect clarity:

Suburbia is just inches away from being finished.

Of course, the idea that suburban sprawl would go bankrupt is hardly new. But, quite starkly, it just became crystal clear to me that the combination of increasing oil prices and defaulting mortgages has actually accelerated this a bit more than anticipated. Indeed, only recently, I was thinking sprawl might still have another solid decade left in the tanks.

But, then it hit me: the cost of building a house (and, even more so, an entire new development) is directly tied to the cost of oil. Primarily because almost every piece of the house has an "oil cost"--that is to say, the price of each piece increases with the cost of oil because each piece is either transported by oil or created using oil.

Suddenly, the synapses started wildly firing and I realized. Dooh! This could get very interesting very quickly.

What if the housing downturn is permanent? As in, things will never return to the levels of just years ago.

Questions started pinballing in my head while I sat on my front porch sipping a sweet iced tea: How will this affect the job market? The manufacturing industry? How we get places? Where we work?

Ping. Ping. Pong. Pong. Et cetera. And so on.

Now, let's be clear: the answers shouldn't be overstated as too gloomy and doomy. The colonizing Martians aren't just days away. But, it does give (or at least should give) one pause: Am I prepared?

Do we have a game plan when The Long Emergency ends up being more than just an interesting book? After all, that epilogue is, quite likely, presently upon us.

In other words, we all better start putting our "thinkin' caps" on because methinks that a permanent worldwide economic roller coaster ride is in the immediate offing. Much earlier than anticipated. All because we leveraged a crude oil buyout with the very same stuff that required the black gold.

What a stupid strategy.

Better use those Skymiles soon.

Oil is such an unforgiving mistress.

The major bummer downside is that the ease of life that most of us have always known will likely get harder. Conversely, the upside is that alot of ugly architecture and congested roads will begin clearing up.

The sum game is really quite simple: strange things are afoot--sooner than expected.

So, tonight, while we wait, take a moment and raise a glass to toast The End of the Great American Suburban Experiment. It wasn't completely its fault. Only mostly so.

Game Over. RIP.