Those shocking bourgeois values

In today’s culture of immediate reward, a work ethic centering on self-discipline and the ability to defer gratification is almost, to use a favorite term of the avant-garde, transgressive. Hmm: With so much of our economy and politics now based on the absence of those characteristics, maybe it really is a bit transgressive.

But those mores just may be making a comeback in these tough times. The fact is, self-discipline and the ability to defer gratification really do help you get ahead, avoid debt and feel more in control of your life.

In boom times, even slackers can do well enough (or borrow enough to seem to) to make those rules seem old-fashioned and unnecessary. But when the bust comes, reality reasserts itself and those trite sayings (“waste not, want not,” “neither a borrower nor a lender be,” etc. — Kipling’s “Gods of the Copybook Headings”) turn out to be not so much trite, as true.

At any rate, we can hope that saving money, avoiding debt and treating friends and family with consideration are now edgy enough to become trendy.