A Question Worth Pondering

by Joey deVilla on January 19, 2009

Photo of Joey deVilla, done up in a style approximating Obama's posters.

(Pardon the hasty editing job with the photo above. I was trying to replicate the style of Obama’s posters. Surely there’s a Photoshop filter to do that sort of thing?)

Here’s a question posed by Joseph Weisenthal, who posts messages on Twitter as “The Stalwart”. Since it’s the end of a particularly controversial eight-year U.S. presidential term, there’s a lot of looking back over the past 8 years. That’s what makes his question so interesting to me right now:

Twitter screenshot: "Are you, PERSONALLY, better off today than you were eight years ago? I'll start off: Yes." 

The tweet reads:

Survey: Are you, PERSONALLY, better off today than you were eight years ago? I’ll start off: yes.

It’s a question worth considering. Forgetting for the moment any feelings that you have about the current U.S. Presidential administration or any policies that did not have a direct effect on you (this will vary depending on where you live) – is your life better today, January 2009, than it was eight years ago, January 2001?

My answer is “yes”.

I’ll write more later, but in the meantime, what’s your answer? Post it in the comments!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Guillaume Theoret January 19, 2009 at 4:39 pm

Seems this question could only be relevant to people at least 30 years old.. 8 years ago I was in high school. Now I’ve completed university and have a job. Doesn’t seem worth comparing my two conditions. Apples and oranges and whatnot.

Dan Dickinson January 19, 2009 at 4:52 pm

God, yes. It has practically nothing to do with politics, though, north OR south of the border. Most of it is good economic timing and plain old growing up…I’ve simply DONE more. Gotten married, gotten my MBA, traveled more, found joy in unexpected places*, become friends with more people, gotten to meet two nieces and a nephew, given more time and money to charities, gained new insight, read more books, played more games, etc., etc. At this point 8 years ago I disliked my job; I haven’t since (I quit that job in Mar 2001). My health is probably a wash…and considering I’m 8 years older now, I’m ok with that. So my answer is yes, but it has little to do with the context of the post, or at least what I read the context to be.

* Sounds dirty. Isn’t.

Locke January 19, 2009 at 4:52 pm

I give you, sir, the Happy to be of service.

Locke January 19, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Er, my HTML needs work. But the principle stands.

Joey deVilla January 19, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Dan Dickinson: Actually, your answer is exactly in the context of the post! In fact, the reasons for my “yes” answer are quite similar to yours.

Joey deVilla January 19, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Guillaume: I still think it’s a valid question, even if you’re under 30. I know some people in their 20s who seem to be longing for the halcyon days of high school or university. I also know some people in their 30s who’d say that the 20s/30s difference might be even more drastic than the high school/20s difference, especially if they have kids.

Joey deVilla January 19, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Dan Dickinson: One more thing — something you said in your comment reminded me of this graphic:

eric January 19, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Yes. 8 years ago I was a single guy at a startup, and now I’m married with 2 kids.

But yeah, take this 8 years (mid-20’s to mid-30’s) of most people’s lives and they add kids and a spouse. And most think it’s good.

Maria January 19, 2009 at 6:10 pm

It just kind of looks like the question is worded for one to evaluate their personal situation, as opposed to in a financial or economic context. Maybe that’s what he meant, so I’ll have to say “yes” as well: moved to a new country, have prospered in my career and am in a fulfilling and happy relationship.
There you go.

Terry Baldwin January 19, 2009 at 6:33 pm

In the 8 years since the Chimp in Charge took office, I got married (and I’m still happily married!)and bought a house. I changed jobs just over 6 months ago, moving back to the wholesale side of the industry I love (bicycles!), a move that was made easier and more profitable in that, as people’s economic situations worsen, the better the bike industry gets. My band of 8 1/2 years disbanded (bummer) and my guitarist and I started a new project that has re-invigorated my creativity, focus and the enjoyment I get from playing. On the down side, as the Republican party goes, so (it seems) goes Alberta, and our housing prices are already tanking here in Calgary. On the plus side, we bought our house at 24% less than market value at the time, so we haven’t taen a huge hit in that respect. So, all told, I’m definitely better off!

Heather January 19, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Gosh it’s hard to think back 8 years. Possibly because 8 years ago I was sleeping 3 hours night and drinking 2 pots of coffee a day.

I’m going to assume a yes on this one.

sdv January 19, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Mine’s going to be no. I am a scientific researcher in an academic setting. The NIH controls my salary and a little over a year ago they froze all salaries (ie. no cost of living increases). Meanwhile my housing costs have gone up significantly, as have my costs for commuting (train fare) and other mundane expenses, and my savings (in the stock market) have gone down dramatically. All the universities, having either lost most of their endowment or being publicly funded, are freezing hiring, so while I should be starting to think about applying for faculty positions, there are none to be had.

On the other hand, 8 years ago I wasn’t in the relationship I’m in now, and I’m eternally grateful for that.

zukny January 20, 2009 at 12:02 am

8 years ago…. i was 19 and in college, playing in a band… and i was single and hot..
today i am laid off, fat, still in college, and no longer in a band…..

But yes im better off. It takes a lot of hard work to not accomplish anything for 8 years u know! ( 8 years ago i also lived at home, didnt have any money, and was a crappy musician. )
Today i am a much better musician, have a house, and a lil lady friend
( as told on the internet i shoudl plug my website ) so here it goes
http://www.mymorningstory.com
basicaly a place for people to write true funny stories ( and come together ) not so much just me blogging … hoping thats how it works out anyways

Joshua January 20, 2009 at 5:10 am

Maybe this is morbid, but I feel compelled to point out that you’ll only get answers from people who are _still here_. There’s about 100,000 or so who are definitely worse off now than they were 8 years ago.

Joey deVilla January 20, 2009 at 10:37 am

Joshua: Absolutely, and I’m certain that there are also many people who are still alive whose lives are worse as the result of the war.

RichM January 21, 2009 at 8:11 am

Qualified no. Eight years ago I was getting paid on a regular basis. Now it’s quite a bit dicier.

But the broadband’s much better now. What did people do before YouTube?

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