Here we are once again at the end of a decade, or at least everyone thinks it's the end of another decade. I'm of a mind that when you count out 10 of anything the tenth thing is part of the whole, which means that the decade would be 2001 through 2010, but I lost that battle at the turn of the millennium. So, the end of another decade. Naturally everyone's wondering what to call the decade about to be past. We had the swinging 60s, the go-go 80s, and so on. What were the past 10 years?
Some people are calling them the Aughts, but I find that awkward and not at all catchy. It's also not descriptive, and when naming a decade one wants at least to be descriptive. In that sense, there's really only one word that encapsulates our collective experience, only one word that will do to remind everyone what we have to show for the early years of this century. What we have to show for these years is nothing, and it's therefore only appropriate that this decade be known as the Naughts.
Let's look at our economy. We began the Naughts at the end of the tech bubble, then saw growth, then a small recession, then a huge bubble based on bad paper, then a crash. We end the decade with the stock market right about where it was in 2000, with nothing in terms of wealth accumulation to show for it all. Naught. Real estate values soared, then crashed, leaving property values either maybe where they were in 2003. Naught to show for everything, except perhaps for way too much debt. Unemployment? The job market is worse than it's been all century, so nothing doing there.
We were attacked and launched a war on terror, and for that we have gained absolutely nothing while losing thousands of lives. Billions spent in Iraq, nothing to show for it, treading water in Afghanistan, nothing to show for it. Our status abroad is no better than it was a decade ago, so we also have nothing to show for what has passed for diplomacy until recently. We've got the exact opposite of peace in the Middle East, no resolution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict that Clinton tried so hard to resolve before leaving office ten years ago.
Every year fewer and fewer things are manufactured in this country, but the glorious information age where everyone works at home creating ideas and even more information has morphed into everyone sitting at home looking for work while they take quizzes on Facebook. Technology has given more of us broadband and large screens on which to watch HDTV, but not much else. The delivery of information has morphed from the page to the screen, but the quality of that information hasn't increased. We've got naught to show for all our technological advances.
All in all, we have one thing and one thing only to show for the past decade of our lives, and that is the fact that we're all 10 years older. Sure, we've got silicon and Botox and collagen in abundance, for those of us with the inclination and financial resources to attempt to erase the recent past, but again that would just be making physical what is intellectually and emotionally true. At the end, we're left with nothing.