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A Malaise Speech for the Current Time
There was a post recently on one of the other threads which would also serve very well as a 21st century malaise speech. One of the biggest reasons for said malaise which, IMO, is much worse than the perceived one of the Carter years (at least folks went out partying in discos at that time which they don't seem to be now), is increasing income inequality and the apparent hollowing out of the middle class, which was already beginning, albeit slowly then, at the time of the original "malaise" speech. (Even though that word wasn't actually used in it. Do you feel that, at least in part, the current accelerated crisis of confidence can be laid at the feet of an increasingly individualistic culture, one in which we are nearly brainwashed into feeling that you can easily express your unique style, your own brand of individuality without worrying what others think. We are encouraged to feel that we're each comfortable in our own skin and to let it show. This is good in some ways; perhaps not so good in others.

The seemingly relentless trend toward greater and greater individualism has also manifested itself in what at the time may have been unexpected ways. Two of the more obvious pertain to the retail and restaurant industries. Much has been made of the rapid decline of the Sears retail brand. Many feel that their primary issue was that they, along with the likes of J C Penney and the late Montgomery Ward is that they were set up to be mass retailers, and during the postwar period they were the Big Three in that arena. Many big and even some small cities had their own classic retailers as well, a prime example being Marshall Field's in Chicago, which was gobbled up by Macy's. With the hollowing of the middle class the upscale folks are heading to the likes of Nordstrom's and Nieman Marcus, which the increasingly paycheck to paycheck folks head to the likes of WalMart and Target, therefore leaving Sears et al out in the cold. Same can be said of the restaurant industry with its abundance of upscale specialty restaurants including many with near celebrity chefs. A more moderate example might be Cheesecake Factory. And then there are the inexpensive fast food chains led by McDonald's and Subway along with a scattering of indies as well. The odd man out here is the classic middle-of-the-road family diner, which are now fewer in number than they once were. Many of those remaining, at least here in the Chicago market, are now only open during breakfast and lunch.

A former coworker of mind was of the opinion that the main factor in there being far fewer mom and pop operations today lies in the fact that we have become a more mobile society and many expect the same things everywhere they go.

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RE: A Malaise Speech for the Current Time - by beechnut79 - 05-23-2019, 10:39 AM

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