Noonan: ‘Goodbye Bland Affluence’

Peggy Noonan, who writes a column for The Wall Street Journal, is as thoughtful a social observer as there is. Notwithstanding her conservative, *Manhattan-centric take on things — which she freely concedes — she is consistently insightful, and a good barometer of where center-right thinking is at.

So it’s noteworthy that her current column, “Goodbye Bland Affluence,” comments on a family of self-described “back-to-the-land” economic survivalists.

While she doubts that many people will emulate this family — you really can’t go “back” to something you never knew — she does note some less dramatic concessions to today’s recessionary times.

Her are some of Noonan’s more notable predictions:

The cities and suburbs of America are about to get rougher-looking. This will not be all bad . . . storefronts, pristine buildings”all will spend less on upkeep, and gleam less.

People will be allowed to grow old again. There will be a certain liberation in this. There will be fewer facelifts and browlifts, less Botox, less dyed hair among both men and women. They will look more like people used to look, before perfection came in. Middle-aged bodies will be thicker and softer, with more maternal and paternal give. There will be fewer gyms and fewer trainers, but more walking. Gym machines produced the pumped and cut look. They won’t be so affordable now.

New home fashion will be spare. This will be the return of an old WASP style: the good, frayed carpet; dogs that look like dogs and not a hairdo in a teacup, as miniature dogs back from the canine boutique do now.

[America] will look like 1970, only without the bell-bottoms and excessive hirsuteness. More families will have to live together. More people will drink more regularly. Secret smoking will make a comeback as part of a return to simple pleasures. People will slow down. Mainstream religion will come back.

According to Noonan, what will replace “bland affluence”?

Something she dubs “authenticity chic.”

As she notes, it comes with some notable silver linings: a more genuine, connected, and, hopefully, meaningful existence.

*Clearly, Noonan hasn’t spent much time in the Midwest: plastic surgery is much less a fixture here than in upper-income New York. Ditto for “frou-frou,” manicured dogs that fit in purses.

In the rest of America, people aren’t putting off visits to their plastic surgeon so much as the doctor, the dentist, the pharmacist, etc.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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