Hugo Rifkind in his Times column yesterday What did you do in the great banking crisis? took the line that it doesn't really matter to the great majority of people: "I'm not trying to sell my house, and I have barely any savings, Icelandic or otherwise. I don't mean to sound callous, but financial disaster hasn't changed my life one bit. I bet a lot of other people's lives haven't changed much either. And yet, apparently we are all going to hell in a handcart anyway. It's getting tiring. It's like being constantly told that you have a terrible disease. Only there aren't any symptoms."
I disagree. Hugo Rifkind and many others like him lucky enough not to be affected already may not experience any symptoms for a good few months or even years. But when they come to try to live off their pensions, or have children (one parent may wish a career break, or a larger house might be required), or to pay for those children's education, or try to climb the greasy pole for that next job, etc – that's when they'll notice that the disease has not, in fact, passed any of us by. (And I've outlined the least nasty possibilities. They could yet be a lot worse.) Mr Rifkind is much more on the money in this endpiece to his column, I think:
Only another month, thank God, and the US election will finally be over. Already, it has lasted far, far too long. Civilisations have risen and fallen. Wars have come and gone. Angelina Jolie has had at least two babies. And still the candidates pontificate and debate, and their supporters bicker about nonsense in the comments bit under videos on YouTube.
It's the videos that are killing me. There are just so many of them, and they are all about nothing. Barack Obama will appear at a Wichita high school, say, and be filmed telling a little girl that his favourite zoo animal is a penguin. Then, two days later, an older video will emerge, perhaps from 1995, in which he tells another little girl that his favourite zoo animal is a tiger. Cue uproar.
“OMG!!!!” a thousand people will write underneath. “OBARMA is a LAIR!!!” And then people will e-mail it to each other and right-wing bloggers, without the merest twitch of humour, will dub it “Zoogate”. Then somebody will ask John McCain about his favourite zoo animal at a press conference, and he'll say a cheetah, and somebody else will splice all these videos together under a headline that says “ZOOGATE: HERO VS A HIPPOCRATE!” and you'll see it and laugh, even though it probably isn't a joke at all."