Hey. What's the economy? I don't fucking know. My AP US History teacher attempted to explain it to me once when I was 16, I think because we were learning about Ronald Reagan and his fucking "trickle down" theory. She got really angry because no matter how slowly she spoke or how many times she repeated phrases like "GDP per capita" and "rate of inflation" I just couldn't seem to wrap my head around all these seemingly hypothetical concepts. What I did know was this: I worked at a paint your own pottery studio helping little rich children and their big rich parents slap some "glaze" onto a ceramic bust of Elvis before he was fat or a napkin holder that would be inevitably broken by the Annoying Cousin sometime around Thanksgiving, and I got paid and I put that money in something called a "checking account" where I could then "withdraw cash" or "use my debit card" to purchase necessities such as poetry anthologies from Borders or a collection of bracelets from Target that jangled on my wrist when I smoked cigarettes in the parking lot on breaks during my aforementioned horrifying job.
I've tried to read articles on it in The Economist and I've tried to have my Dad - a former AP Government teacher - explain it to me, and I read and absolutely adored Freakonomics, but I still don't understand the basic tenets of economic function. And do you know why? It's because I've never had to before. The economy has never impacted me in a way that would force me to educate myself about it. I mean, it's the same reason I don't know shit about football: I've never dated a football player.
It's quite easy to bitch about how I'm broke, to say that I will be forever in debt due to student loans, to live paycheck to paycheck from my $10/hour job that I got fired from for "breaching privacy" because god Facebook what the fuck? But it's quite another thing to actually understand the implications of these things, not just economically speaking, but also in the context of wow I'm a spoiled college brat. Not that I was ever in denial concerning that whole viewpoint, but it's easy to forget when your brain has a penchant to synthesize everything in the saddest ways possible and make a bowl of ice cream look like a bowl of (quite literal) shit.
Yesterday Sam wrote a very eloquent post about our generation's general apathy concerning the political process, and I'm sure this transitions easily into apathy in terms of economic status. At 20, I've only known three different presidents, two of which grew on the same tree. In the 90's I lived through a budget surplus and a boom of major technological advancements but was too young to care. Now I'm living through one of the greatest economic depressions our nation has seen in decades and 1) I'm in a different country and feel subsequently unaffected by it, despite the fact that when I withdraw 700 Euros for my rent the exchange rate means that's more than $1,000 and 2) I know so little about the economy that when people say my bank failed (which it did, no more woohooing eh, Wamu?) my first reaction is: Wait, so am I gonna get to keep the $30 I have in there?
According to those more informed than I am, the answer is yes, I will, because of "buyouts," which is a term I heard the Stern kid who sits next to me in French class discussing while reading the WSJ off of his Blackberry. So maybe this won't effect me in any profound way except that I will have to have a new debit card mailed to me in Paris and my parents will grimace deeper when I bring up future travel plans that I am throwing money at while they are at home trying to figure out how they're going to stretch their paychecks to keep the hot water turned on. So maybe all those Olds are right when they say youth culture is too busy Twittering about their latest make out sesh (my date went really well, BTW) to worry about the big stuff like the fact that my Mom has been frantically IMing me saying that everyone in the US is in a general state of panic and that there's some crazy hick from Alaska only a few steps away from executive office.
I'm not sure if my general nonchalance and emotional remove are due to the fact that I am currently in a foreign country with one of the strongest currencies in the world, or if "my generation" has left me so spoiled that I'd rather sit in bed and wonder if, on average, Samantha Ronson goes down on Lindsay Lohan first or vice versa, than actually conquer concrete problems. Either way, I'm calling my Dad right now and making him explain to me at the very least how a "GDP" works.