changing of the guard

The Changing of an Era?

mark hatfieldDominic Basulto’s blog yesterday at saw the changing of an era in the confluence of events last weekend.

The events he referenced were the unprecedented S&P downgrade of U.S. government debt, and the concurrent 20th anniversaries of the Lollapalooza music festival and the World Wide Web.

The death of former Oregon Governor and U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield and the apparent ascendance of Apple over Exxon as the highest-valued public company in the world also make me feel as if we’re turning a page in our history.

Basulto wonders whether those coming of age in 1991 could ever have foreseen the changes that would take place over the coming 20 years. This year’s college graduates will witness even more rapid change with a Web that is truly worldwide today, increasingly accessible through the ubiquitous technology of cell phones and other mobile devices.

I know far less about Lollapalooza, though I was sorry to hear that Portland band Portugal. The Man had its equipment stolen after playing a set at the festival.

The S&P downgrade hit me like it did most Americans – in my wallet. The market chaos this week has played havoc with my personal portfolio. Unfortunately, that portfolio doesn’t include stock in Apple. But I can assure Apple stockholders that I’m ready when the iPhone 5 is released next month to help push stock values even higher with my early purchase.

I worry that the petty partisan squabbling that led to the downgrade and market volatility is a sign that dysfunction has replaced dialogue in D.C. In 1991, Mark O. Hatfield was sworn in for his final term as Oregon’s senior United States Senator. Powerful and principled, Hatfield embodied the independence and leadership we desperately needed, and that is so obviously absent among our political leaders today.

And I wonder what today’s 20-somethings will reflect on in the summer of 2031.