Friday, November 10, 2023

Inflation Blows.

Growing old, as we're all doing, is hard-enough. 

You have to deal with ageism bs. And you have to deal with the aches and pains of your aging body.And you have to deal with the financial bullshit of making a living, making sure you don't wind up in a nursing home, or prisoner of billions of dollars of medical expenses.

You might even have worries, if you're lucky, about your estate or legacy. Leaving something for your kids so maybe they have it a little better than you had it.

Growing old, as I wrote, is hard-enough.

Growing old and having a long-memory is even harder.

It's harder because you remember when the world made more sense. When two ice cream cones didn't cost eighteen dollars. When a stay at a hotel on a tropical beach wouldn't run you $1,800 a night. When a taxi from midtown to the Upper East Side wasn't $32.

In short, you remember things before inflation. Like sneaking out of school to see Willie Mays on his return to New York and getting pretty good seats for $3.50.

The other sort of inflation that screws with this old man's head is maybe even more pernicious than price inflation. 

It's title inflation.

It's rare that I go into a meeting nowadays where I'm not impressed with the "titular eminence" of the people in the conference room or on the zoom call.

Naively, I suppose, not thinking of title inflation, I'll say to myself, "shit, the Senior Executive Chief Executive Officer is in the room. And also, the President. And the Chair of the Executive Committee."

It doesn't take you long to discover that those titles have about as much meaning as the neon signs on a New York pizzeria, by which each place declares that it has "New York's #1 Pizza," or "Best Pizza in New York," or the anodyne but ubiquitous, "New York's Favorite Pizza."

To my old (and tired) eyes it seems job titles work in a similar manner today. About nine people can proclaim themselves "President," or "CEO," or "Chief Creative Officer." And none of those heavily-titled people can "decision" their way across a pair of railroad tracks.

Just as with price inflation there's no guarantee that your "$66 Argentinian steak" will be worth eating, there's absolutely no guarantee that the "President" you're presenting too can decide to go to lunch without having it ok'd by senior management and the board.

Again to my wizened view, our world seems populated by people with giant titles and zero power. Every move they make and every decision they inch toward needs to be a group effort and consensus must be reached. If you were standing by an elevator in the lobby, it would take at least 45-minutes to get everyone together, consider all the options, worry about the ramifications, then press "up."

Here's an old man's dream. Move the decimal point to the left a place or two.

Make the $66 steak a $6.60 steak. 

The $52,000 Honda Civic, $5,200.

And please, if you're working for a company and can say "no" with confidence but are unable to say "yes," or you're afraid of making a decision lest someone somewhere will take exception, let's figure out a name for your job that isn't so elevated.

When you walk around with a big title, there's a promise implicit in that title that you have some power--at least that's the way it seems to the elderly. If you have none, that's fine. We all have crosses to bear and axes to grind. 

I just wish all this inflation would come back down to earth.

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