It's always interesting to watch TV with young people. This week I was watching MTV with one of my daughters. We were watching the show 'My Super Sweet 16', which is a programme about the 16th birthday parties of reasonably well off children. (Click here for the Wiki page on the series). To date, all of the shows have been based in the US, but this is mere accident. They could equally apply to youngsters in London, Paris, Tokyo, or wherever there is a class of people with large amounts of money and not too many things to spend it upon.
I managed to catch Episode 23, where Nicole from San Francisco was given a party by her parents that cost $200,000 USD, along with a present of a car costing $49,000 USD. There were about 50 to 60 friends at the party. If the San Franciscans follow what we would see as normal rules of hospitality (if you come to my party, you are obliged to invite me to yours), then, on this level of spend, the group of friends would have had something in the region of $10 million USD to $12 million USD spent just on birthday parties.
Juxtaposed in my mind is this image from Hurricane Katrina (Click here for the image). What concerns me most is the apparent insouciance displayed by the Sweet Sixteeners towards groups such as the victims of Katrina. It appears that, in 'the West', we have great disparities in income, almost unbridled greed, and an indifference towards the less well off.
And perhaps that is where the futures point comes into play. In the past, in societies where there have been great inequalities in wealth, greed, and an indifference to one fellows, things have not ended happily for the well off. We think of France in 1789, which ended with the guillotine. We think of Europe in 1914, which ended on the Western Front. Even the Debbies of the 1920s - their world ended in the crash of 1929.
If this is a model that has relevance today, then are we close to an epoch ending event? If so, how will it all end?