My Granny died at age 94. She was born in 1917 and live a full life – she was only sick the last couple of days of her life. Overall, I would call it a success. She was thoughtful, generous, and even in her old age able to carry on a good conversation.
I was always pretty fascinated by the things she had lived through. Pretty much every modern day historical event I could think of. The World Wars, the Great Depression, race riots, she even saw two states become part of the Union! I would always ask her about historical events and what it was like to live through them – I guess I expected it to be somehow different than my own experience living through historical events (like 9/11). One day I asked her what it was like to live through the great depression.
She explained to me that, at the time, no one even realized it was the “Great Depression”. People were poor, a lot of people didn’t have jobs, but most of what we see on TV was the worst of it – not the typical. I started thinking about what we are going through today in “the Recession” and I can’t help but think that nothing is too differnt. I mean almost just as many people are without jobs, underemployed, or work for government created jobs. In fact, many sources site actual unemployment around 22% or higher, not a tthe government’s 10% figure (not including the underemployed). (re: Hiding a Depression, Alternate Unemployment Chart). I mean, about 50 miles north of where I live there is actually a tent town. Sound familiar? Sounds a lot like a modern day great depression.
Anyways, I started doing some research to find out what’s going on. Why did the government say that the recession was over in 2009, but nothing seems to have changed. Sure the stock market has improved a bit (has it?), but I’m still losing value in my 401k, unemployment is still as high as ever, the federal government is even more in debt, and the financial trouble abroad is as bad as ever! So are we really not even in a recession, or is this something worse? Allow me to quote someone more credable than me: (re: Let’s Be Honest: We’re in a Depression, Not a Recession, And There’s No End In Sight)
Richard A. Posner is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.
If the notion that we are merely living through the aftereffects of a mere “recession” that ended in 2009 sounds somewhat ridiculous, that’s because it is. If we were being honest with ourselves, we would call this a depression. That would certainly better convey both the severity of our problems, and the fact that those problems have no evident solutions.
That’s right, we’re in a depression. Why? In my opinion that’s because things are bad, nothing has changed, and there is no end in sight. As much as the government wants to tell us things are going to improve soon – it’s all phony. I’m not saying we’re at the end of the world, but don’t expect things to change. The Fed is still over spending and printing more money(deficit), the EU has its own problems so there’s no help there, and we still aren’t producing anything! This isn’t a short term problem, its a long road, folks. The Keynesian economic theory of “spend your way out of the reciession” doesn’t apply this time. (re: We are in a modern day depression)
If you are thinking: “this doesn’t look like the movies about the great depression” there is a good reason for that. As economist David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff points out, “The soup lines have been replaced with unemployment payment checks. Over 10 million such checks are being sent out now for up to 99 weeks.” We still have a long way to go and someone has to pay for those unemployment checks.
When I talk to my parents and the typical “uninformed” person I get the feeling that they are just waiting for things to turn around. There is a sense of “any day now” things will just get better. I wonder how many other people out there feel the same way? Citing the 1970s and 1980s as examples when we pulled through recessions followed by periods of sharp growth afterwards – but that ain’t happening…
I’m not trying to promote fear mongering here and I’m not saying that we should expect hyper-inflation or civilized US to crumble. What I am saying is that things have changed for a lot of Americans – maybe forever. Instead of waiting on the government to fix it – its up to us, the individual. Re-education, training, and acceptance that the hay days are over for a while. Basically, we were spending too much – we were gluttons and now its time to pay for it. The real question I have, is how long is the government going to downplay this situation? When are we going to be honest with ourselves and REALLY fix this shit? The longer the government unfairly downplays our situation – the longer its going to take the bottom 50% of America to react.