Well, boys and girls, here we are again. It is the holiday season, as Christmas has passed, although, again, I am firmly in the camp that views this as Christmastime, not over as soon as presents are opened and Christmas day gatherings are winding down. The end of the year is about to arrive, and 2018 is about to begin. Silly me, it has just dawned on me today that I do not have a 2018 calendar or scheduling book yet and should get to a bookstore.
Going out for that got me reflecting on retail sales commerce in America in general as we wind up 2017. I was surprised to notice that a local store of the Best Buy chain had closed up. It was one of a few in the general metropolitan area, so it was not like that chain disappeared in my area, but, still, that was a surprise. I don’t know why. That was added to the fact that Radio Shack has virtually ceased to exist, and the last of their stores in the area, a mid-sized city ringed with a few older small towns and suburban expansion municipalities, closed forever, a startling course of events considering that, once upon a time, there were probably at least a dozen Radio Shack stores in the area.
That might be a whole topic of its own, as Radio Shack had become something little like what they were. The name itself suggests clearly what they were about, before mutating into a place where you could barely find any radio equipment of any kind, except the stuff that most people do not even seem to recognize as radio equipment, the complex radio transceivers that are mobile phones. Finding electronic parts became a problem long ago, accompanied by the absurd shifting of the people working in their stores over time so that you were extremely unlikely to find a Radio Shack store staffed by anybody who knew anything about electronics.
Another shock was fairly grim, as I was surprised to discover not long ago that several months ago, the only Sears store here had closed its doors. There is no Sears store anywhere near here now. This is unbelievable. The subject of Sears and how they could be in trouble is still another whole epic tale. Thinking of the now defunct local Sears, I always thought, it’s a good store. It was a classic department store of the kind I knew so well growing up as a kid in the sixties and early seventies, not a bad place to be. They sold good stuff, and a wide variety of stuff. It was a great place for tools, alone, with the Craftsman brand of tools that were good, complete with a lifetime guarantee. in recent years, I noticed that the local Sears never seemed to be busy at all, with vast areas of empty parking, and the store staff sometimes seemed slightly apathetic or even useless, and who knows what was going on there. I cannot fathom what reason there could be for those things, but that probably gets into an assortment of factors that I had to attribute to incredibly bad management.
Reviewing where we are coming to the end of 2017, I have to consider all kinds of problems that could broadly be attributed to bad management, in all sorts of business, and in the public domain of government.
The broad problems falling under the general umbrella of “business management” cover a lot of territory in the realm of large, bloated, dysfunctional and dishonest corporate entities, banking, and finance, including the systems of trading of assorted financial instruments known as “the markets”. In the public realm of government, and the circus pseudo-sports games of politics that goes with it, we continue to have the swirling lunacy I have been calling bipolar political disorder. That term does not seem to have caught on, oddly, even as I think it describes a collection of madness perfectly in concise form. As I have mentioned before, I thought of that phrase one day some time ago, and doing a web search, I found that this was not original, finding that some other people had used the very same phrase, so that term not catching on in common usage is not something to attribute to the fact that the number of people reading my little corner of the web here is pretty miniscule.
All of the above shares a common feature that is a serious problem. That shared problem is a very weird kind of disconnection from reality.
How to sum up everything in the world broadly as a review of the year is asking too much, a real problem with any kind of “new year’s review”, but I think I can be reasonable in offering a fairly broad statement. Looking at the general state of affairs as we reach the end of 2017, I think it is fair to say that we do have quite a load of big problems, but in general, a lot is not too bad, very good in some ways, even great, but at the same time, a lot is incredibly horrendous, and a lot of problems are created, or real existing problems made much worse, as a result of this epidemic of crazed unreality gripping so many people.
The broad problem there includes not only the trouble it causes, or trouble it aggravates and amplifies, but the further problems of all that being such a distraction and diversion. Thinking back over my notes here, it is pretty obvious that the kind of thing I am talking about here has consumed most of the space, at the expense of turning attention to other more positive topics.