It’s a good idea in theory. Few would probably argue with the idea that sometimes it just feels like our world has become needlessly complex – what, with all the technology, “always on” media, political & cultural discord, social tension, and of course things like credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations. What happened to the simple things that the “everyman” could understand and appreciate?
The problem is, like most things in life, once you start to peel it back, you realize even “simplicity” might not be so simple. Why? Because we don’t all value the same things. For some, eliminating “stuff” and creating a more “Zen” like atmosphere at home might fit the bill. For others, it might be the choice between “having it all” (i.e. career, family, friends) vs. having to pick and choose in order to focus on one direction at the expense of another. For yet others, it could be a simple case of better time management. And for some, literally, it would be the seemingly simple question of “why can’t everyone else just agree with me and live the way I think they should? Then everything would be just fine.” (we’ll digress on that point).
Simplicity might be in the eye of the beholder. What if I wanted to keep all my stuff, but “Kondo” all the moral hazard in our system that makes it harder for responsible savers & investors to buy the stuff they want via the fruits of their hard work and prudent risk-taking?
What if the simple ability to open & operate a small business in my preferred small town so I could serve the local population with the simple goods & services they want is all I aspired to do in order to live out my values? And what if I had played by all the rules, worked hard “roughing it” at jobs I didn’t particularly care for along the way, sacrificed the expensive, exotic vacations and debt-fueled purchases of big homes and cars, all so I could save up enough money to buy myself that independent lifestyle using the simple math of profit/loss and price/earnings? (well, as long as these guys didn’t show up first…)
Never mind all the complexity associated with trying to “value” an asset in the first place in this crazy Fed-manipulated age we live in, but as a small business owner, imagine trying to navigate the process of getting a PPP loan while you’re at it? Probably not the definition of simplicity.
Bloomberg Opinion: This Pandemic Is an Opportunity For Radical Simplification
“A reset to what? My guess is that it’ll amount to a great simplification. A simplification of our lives, priorities, schedules, memberships, finances, relationships and maybe even world views. But also a simplification of our societies. That’s because one of the side effects of Covid-19 is to expose the accumulation over decades — at least in the wealthy West — of untenable complexity in the individual, political and economic spheres of life. “
“The proof includes the stunning success of somebody like Marie Kondo, a Japanese lifestyle guru who promises to help unclutter your home. In practice, Kondo wants you to look at all your stuff and keep asking: “Does it spark joy?” Usually, the answer is no, and out it goes. “
“Collapse isn’t necessarily as scary as it sounds, by the way. It’s merely a society’s rapid and involuntary simplification. “