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Columns

March 19, 2009

This Wonderful Life

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Great Depression. I know I am not alone.



Sure, news media have been making comparisons since last year, but you can’t listen to them. But when the front-line, realtime, down-home media (that would be you and me) start examining the ways that our current downturn/ recession/collapse/meltdown is similar to what happened in the 1930s in the U.S and Europe, it’s time to listen. When layoffs are no longer something that happened to a friend of a friend or your cousin’s ex-husband, but rather a reality for your friends and neighbors, it’s time to listen. When great, big things are being tried and the economy still seems to be sinking, it’s time to listen.



The problem is, we don’t have anything but numbers to help us compare what has happened/is happening and to project how it will ultimately affect all of us. Unfortunately, numbers and economic theory are best at telling you about numbers and economic theory. They have less to say about individual human beings.



And to even try to extrapolate Depression-era history and make a forecast for the Millennial Meltdown is to invite gross miscalculations. Yes, we care about the economics of it. We want to keep our jobs or find good ones. We want to keep our 3,000-square-foot homes. We want to send our children to high quality schools that are well staffed and fully equipped. We want to ``cut back’’ by eating out fewer times per week, doing less reckless and impulsive clothes shopping, buying a more fuel-efficient car.



In short, the average American is approaching this broad economic crisis like a bunch of Herbert Hoovers. We can’t possibly give up the gym memberships, yoga classes or personal trainers because, without them, we worry about being too fat. Friends, that’s not deprivation. One pair of shoes My grandmother, Stormy, was born in 1912, in Pensacola, Florida. She passed away late last year, living proof that all the things that won’t kill you actually do make you stronger. And maybe meaner.

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