Skip to main content

Schadenfreude in the Nevada Desert

I'm pleased to report finding a new financial blog to follow, mybudget360 dotcom. Recently it has featured a post-mortem on the late Las Vegas boom and bust. 

If we can't agree on anything else, let's agree that schadenfreude -- the joy felt over other people's suffering -- is not the fairest flower of human nature. But the shameful truth is that I exult over the demise of Las Vegas. Blame that on an ugly, vestigial streak of Puritanism, if you will. Actually it's a little more personal than that.

During my years of RV travel, Las Vegas was pretty hard to avoid. Since I hung out in St. George UT during the shoulder seasons, and since the Grand Canyon lacked a bridge, it was necessary to go through Vegas. It was actually a practical and beneficial stop, where a traveler could stock up on supplies, get work done on his rig, and enjoy the last Barnes and Noble for awhile. I also enjoyed free camping at the casinos (where I never gambled) and early-morning, loss-leader breakfasts.

Alas Las Vegas kept getting crazier, which is the subject of this excellent article on mybudget360 dotcom. In contrast to the practical aspects of the town, there was the entertainment industry garbage down on the Strip.  I had little to do with that, although once I made a navigational error and pulled my travel trailer down the Strip at prime time in the evening. And lived to tell about it.

There was something about Vegas that captured the very essence of American culture, with all its distortions. I found this fascinating and repulsive at the same time. The overemphasis on entertainment of the trashiest kind; over-eating; the automobile culture; the debt culture. It would be nice to take a trip through Vegas today and gloat over its troubles. The more severe those troubles are, the more hope there is for America.


Anonymous said…
I guess your last sentence has alot of truth in it. I feel some hope for America as well, sort of. My reluctance, however, is that it is a forced decline not one born of a long overdue epiphany within the human mind that you can't have your cake and eat it too.
"Forced decline". Ignoring a few old puritans like me, the idea of living within their means is repulsive to the average American. It will have to be forced on them, by international markets, I guess. It certainly won't come from Congress or the Federal Reserve.