Yuppies and dumpies:
Yuppies were the darlings of the press not so many years ago.  I am given to understand that the nickname stood for, “Young, upwardly mobile professionals.”  This was supposed to be the embodiment of the American dream, everybody getting richer all the time and not spending any time worrying about anything else.  These were by definition young professionals who had wealth and responsibilities beyond anything their parents had experienced, and there were a lot of them.

So far so good, perhaps.  I believe it has been shown that a disposable income of less than $20,000 a year makes people less happy.  Housing, clothing and food become problematic, and compromises must be made.  Once that level of income has been gained, there is no further increase in happiness.  Whether that amount of money is income per household, income per adult or income per person, I do not know, but any way you look at it, the yuppies were bringing home far more money than what they needed.  That is not to say that everyone was getting richer.  At the same time as the yuppies were being idolized, there were plenty of people who were looking at a future that was going to be less affluent than what their parents had seen.

Not to be churlish, nor envy the yuppies, they clearly represented a hazard.  By definition, they lacked experience and had not grown up in homes where their own brand of profession was common coin.  They had not known times that had been different.  They had just passed some college courses.  They knew exactly enough to manage so long as nothing changed and had no way of knowing more.

Recently things have changed.  So far as I can figure it out, something over 10 years ago somebody, and I think it may have been the then current president, decided to gamble with other people’s money.  It was observed that more Americans owned their own homes than ever before and more than people did in any other country.  Hoping to build on such success, he decided that owning a home was now the definition of the “American Dream,” and changed the rules that had made it possible for so many to own homes.

The banks were encouraged by the government to make bad loans.  People could and did buy homes they could not afford, and other people looked at the soaring housing market and speculated by buying homes they did not need, thanks at least in part to the help of the same banks, who were doing their best to spread out the risk of what they knew perfectly well was a lot of bad loans. 

Had the gamble worked, those who had bought homes they could not afford would have started acting like people who could indeed afford homes and would have become so productive that by now they could have paid off their home loans.  If that seems like a stupid gamble, it is quite possibly because it was indeed stupid.  Or maybe the cause was a lack of sufficient government regulation or maybe a combination or something else.  The fact remains things changed. 

It ended in tears.  The banks could not survive.  Those who needed the services of banks, in particular businesses, were hurt.  And those who needed business for goods, services, investments, jobs, entertainment, sponsorship or customers suffered.  That seems like a lot.  Why do you think they call it “business?”

So we are in the midst of a period of doom and gloom, particularly the people who had been yuppies, many of whom are out of work.  The term never was a nice one and had already fallen out of use before it became ironic.  But wait.  There is now some good news.   Those same people, they are still around even if the name is not, are now downwardly unhappy mobile professionals.  (Maybe we could say “dumpies,” another unattractive term which I need just for a moment.)  Now the situation is far more like that of the Industrial Revolution, when the rich homes were producing a disproportionate number of children.  These newly idle people may not have grown up in professional homes, but they have been professionals themselves.  In particular, a lot of them have been doing paper shuffling.  In business, as you may have discovered in the bathroom, the paper work is necessary but is about the least interesting of the tasks. 

Think of any business.  Take crop dusting.  Show me the world’s best crop duster, and I may or may not be looking at somebody who can run a business.  But show me somebody who can run a business, and I am pretty sure I shall be looking at somebody who can find pilots get them trained, find aircraft or have them modified, find people who need the service even if they don’t yet know they need it and so forth.  Flying the plane is a lot more fun, but the dumpie is the ideal person to make the business work. 

So this cloud, the present economic downturn, has a remarkable lining.  Just when it looked like we were desperate for the administrative talent it would take to keep us alive, just when our low birth rate was closing in on us, we get one last chance to fix it.  Our society is not going to crash quite yet.  We have time to adopt some mating strategy that will work.

Who knows?  Maybe it will be one of those dumpies who figures out how.  There’s money in it for somebody; that is for sure. 

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