Things that will survive

May 4, 2009, 1:16 PM UTC


It’s quite possible that the light that we are seeing at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train. True, at the parties I went to over the weekend a certain number of people were unemployed. This was in Northern California, which has been hit pretty hard in the tech sector and in real estate as well. But people were of pretty good cheer. Of course, they were drunk, but that doesn’t necessarily impart automatic merriness. I’ve known a ton of grouchy drunks in my time. No, there was definitely a little bit of hope in the air. 

I think that may be because it’s starting to look like the nasty creepazoids who prognosticated the death of all human life on the planet will be disappointed in the end. The game is now to figure out who will get through this thing, because when we’re all safely on shore the survivors will find a world in which they are faced with significantly less competition. There will be more meat, more vegetables, more space at the campfire. Here’s my guess at who will be there: 

A number of hearty newspapers: Yeah, there won’t be quite as many as there were before. But the ones who stick around will still control about half of all local advertising. 

A bunch of lean, tough car companies: And boy, are they going to need to get their brands back on track. How? With advertising, ladies and gentlemen. Therefore…  

Mass media: Targeting schmargeting.  Who do you think those monsters are going to require in order to get back in touch with all the folks who once again want soap, cars and increasing amounts of pharmaceuticals? And beer! Don’t forget about beer! 

Lots of new Madoffs: Things will look better. This will bring out the oldest couple in human history: the gullible and those who will prey on them.  

A bunch of shiny new philanthropists: The markets will soar. New people will get rich. And for a time, while the shame of having been selfish idiots clings to the marketplace, there will be those who try to help others who have yet to rise from whatever tragedy has befallen them. Most of them will probably be the biggest bad guys from the days of yore, a thought that never left my mind when I attended the Milken Conference in LA last week.

Tons of stinky HMOs: You can’t kill those things. 

A small, gnarly band of Republicans: Wow, are those guys angry. Right now, they’re down. But when things improve and unfettered exploitation of the market is once again in vogue, they’ll come roaring back into the spotlight armed to the teeth and looking for liberals. 

Book stores: Will there be as many of them? No. Will there still be some? Yes there will. What about the Kindle? The Kindle! Aieee! Look. The majority of people I know who have Kindles are in publishing. They go around with their Kindles and talk about the end of their own business. Talk about boring! 

Regulation: Somewhere in our collective memory, the majority of us will harbor some vague memory that it’s bad when the FDA, SEC, FEMA and other regulators in Washington are run by former executives and lobbyists of the industries they are supposed to be overseeing, apparatchiks who are in fact enemies of the agencies they are supposed to be managing. 

Florida: I’m as worried about climate change as the next person, but I still think that Miami will be above water. Also New York. 

Other: If you can’t imagine a world without it, it’s probably going to be here, smaller, leaner, more sinewy, and better equipped to make the grade going forward. So relax. 

You will also note that Twitter is not on this list.