It has been quite some time since I last worked in US. May be over 7 years. The current stint has been 15 days and since then I have noticed so many changes that the society has undergone while I was away. Of course, I should have expected some of that given that the state of the economy is in question, jobs are moving offshore, level of education is deteriorating, the sub-prime crisis has opened a can of worms but the difference that I feel in day to day life has been remarkable.
The indifference towards fellow people is evident on the roads, I see more cars honking at intersections and frustrated drivers trying to change lanes to beat the traffic. OK, it could have been worse depending on where you belong, but it is very different from my last trip. The “Hey howdy” are replaced with ignores especially in the bay area. Money has suddenly become even more important now, gone are the days when you could call a bank and ask them to waive a fee because you forgot to pay on time, at that time banks were more interested in keeping the customers, now they are more interested in keeping your money. I recently lost my application fee on an apartment where, a week before I was supposed to move in, the guy at the apartment decided not to vacate that. The leasing office said that the application money is non-refundable and we would not honor a refund irrespective of the fact that I am still willing to move in and it is not my fault that the other guy decided to stay on. The customer is the king! Who the hell said that?
TV is full of ads from car companies screaming to tell the viewers that they are more fuel efficient than the competitors. Fuel efficiency?? Is this the same country which produced huge fuel guzzling SUVs and no-one was concerned about gas which sold at less than a dollar for a gallon? I see more and more people getting away from SUVs and buying hybrids or smaller fuel efficient cars.
So are we reaching a stage of Global Equilibrium? Equilibrium is defined as “A condition in which all acting influences are canceled by others, resulting in a stable, balanced, or unchanging system.” So the Global Equilibrium would mean that the developing nations would move upwards and the developed ones would move in the opposite direction till a state of balance is reached. The transition might be slow but the process is already making progress.