The age of financial decadence

Our U.S. founding fathers “built a moral structure around money,” says David Brooks in The New York Times, and “for centuries” we prospered by remaining “industrious, ambitious, and frugal.” Well, no more. Much of that virtue “has been shredded” over the past 30 years, resulting in a destructive “explosion of debt” and “stark financial polarization” between “the investor class” and “the lottery class.” There are a number of agents responsible for this “financial decadence”—state lotteries, payday lenders, credit card companies—and several solutions. The most important thing, though, is to follow Ben Franklin’s lead and re-embrace the “bourgeois virtues” of temperance and thrift.

The GPS industry’s Waterloo

Apple revolutionized the music industry with iTunes, created a market for Mp3 players with the iPod, and upped the ante in the cellphone business with the iPhone, says Chadwick Matlin in Slate. It’s new iteration of the iPhone will usher in “the end of the portable GPS market as we know it.” That’s bad news for Gamin, which controls more than half of the $50 billion-a-year U.S. GPS market. Mobile GPS gadgets have gone from “high-end curiosities to mass-market devices,” especially in cars, and now that the iPhone offers GPS, plus much more, at about the same price, it should “siphon serious business away from the old-line GPS manufacturers.”