Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Bright Side of a Depression

You are probably filled with anxiety abut your job, your home, your investments, your business. All the economic predictions are dire and your economic future does not look too good. You have reason to be depressed, but don’t be. As one who survived the Great Depression, I’d like to point out the bright side of a depression.

First of all, what is a "depression"? How does it differ from a "recession"? When your neighbor is unemployed it's a "recession." When you are unemployed it's a "depression."

Regardless of what you call it there are many wonderful things about a depression. I point out 3.

First, there is less materialism. Less shopping for all sorts of goods. Less time wasted washing, cleaning and repairing all this stuff. Less clutter in your garage. More time for people. More time spent with your family. More time for friendships.

Second, there's less jealousy. What's there to be jealous about? Your neighbor doesn't have anything either. Paradoxically there is more generosity and more empathy. Since you don't have anything, it's easy to share it with others. In connection with this the old comedian Sam Levinson used to tell the story of what happened in his home when guests were invited for dinner. His parents told him and his siblings, "When I distribute the chicken, just say you don't want any." When it came time for dessert his parents said, "Those who didn't eat their chicken don't get dessert."

Third, you do not rush around. You have more time to relax, take it easy and enjoy the free things in life - such as the warmth of the sun, the beauties of nature and the pleasure of friendships.

These are some of the good things one finds in a depression. So if you don't mind being hungry occasionally, you will enjoy the currently expanding depression.

Posted by Paul Siegel at November 13, 2008 7:52 PM
Comment #270307

Yeah, I tried telling a depressed person to cheer up once. I got slapped in the face. Then I was depressed too!

Economic depression kills people. And it takes years off the lives of many others. It leaves parents responsible for their hungry and homeless children.

Yes, what you say is true, Paul, for fleeting moments, in between experiences of the cruelty of poverty. Little solace for something that could so easily have been prevented by an ability to respond appropriately, or responsibility, by those paid enormous sums presumably for that express purpose.

You have to almost admire the French when they beheaded those responsible for their plight. Showed spunk and a sense of justice. Not like Americans who turn the other cheek and continue to offer up enormous sums to those who cause such economic devastation via their lack of ability to respond appropriately for the funds and welfare of those they are hired to rip-off serve.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 13, 2008 10:10 PM
Comment #270308

I take it that Paul is joking about the many joys and wonders of life during a depression. So long as you don’t mind being hungry, there’s more time to enjoy friends, family, the open air and sunlight?

If this is anyone’s idea of the good life, they should try moving to a slum in Rio de Janeiro. That’s pretty much what Paul is describing here. Let us know how much enjoyment that brings you.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at November 13, 2008 11:44 PM
Comment #270319

Getting people to believe we are in a depression is the latest talking point LO.
If we slide into a depression under Obama and his policies, the left will claim we were already in a depression. If we come out of this, the left can give credit to Obama for bringing us out of a depression.

Nothing but more of the same word game BS that we heard throughout his campaign and which we will continue to hear throughout his rule.

Posted by: kctim at November 14, 2008 9:07 AM
Comment #270320

“If this is anyone’s idea of the good life, they should try moving to a slum in Rio de Janeiro. That’s pretty much what Paul is describing here. Let us know how much enjoyment that brings you.”

LO it’s ironic you bring up a city in South America as I have always thought the Reagan conservatives with their trickle on economics and deregulation agenda were deliberately pushing us towards the South Americanization of this Country. Seems they have succeeded in that effort and well…. is it a depression if recovery only includes corporate America or is it the new norm for our Country.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 14, 2008 9:25 AM
Comment #270326

Oh come on, seriously, we’re not even close to even thinking about being in a depression. For god’s sake, technology and how far we’ve come along in basic understanding of agriculture guarentees no one starves 1931 style.

Don’t fall into the scaremongering or doomsayers.

Posted by: Jon at November 14, 2008 10:50 AM
Comment #270328

I don’t think it’s quite time for Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” nor would I call what we are in as a depression. A bad recession, yes. When unemployment hits 25% then we can talk depression. Being depressed is another thing. I am depressed that we just threw away 300+ billion dollars on this insane bailout. It did nothing to stabilize the financial system, banks are just pocketing our money and not lending it back to us. Paulson has admitted that it isn’t working but only after half of the 700 billion has been given away to his friends. What a huge bank robbery in reverse. Giving these rat bastards our money is like giving heroine to heroine addicts hoping it will get them to quit. Paulson belongs in jail with the rest of his Wall St buddies. We should also stop the rest of the money from winding up in Paulson’s hands. Now the auto industry has its hat out for our money but they don’t want the leaders who got us into this mess to resign, they don’t have a plan to change what they are doing to make this bailout work as anything other than delaying the inevitable. Though at least with these folks there are several million jobs at stake but without a plan like Chrysler in the 80s who repaid the tax payers with interest ahead of schedule, it’s just giving these addicts heroine. So we either give these crappy businessmen billions of dollars or watch 3 million jobs get flushed down the toilet. That’s depressing.

We need to break up any business that is considered “too big to fail” - if it’s too big to fail then it’s too big to continue to exist. We can’t keep picking up the slack for this crap. When that much capital is concentrated into only a few hands it leads to what we have now. I think the main problem in these businesses is poor leadership. These guys think they are a lot smarter and more capable than they actually are. It has become embarrassingly obvious that they are either just guilty of criminal greed or criminal stupidity. There are a lot of smart people out there but they apparently don’t wind up as CEOs in this country.

So depressing, yes. Depression, no.

Posted by: tcsned at November 14, 2008 11:12 AM
Comment #270336

The Depression doesn’t hit until the Medicare and Soc. Sec. deficits hit large beginning in 2017. Not long after Obama leaves office, if his administration and the Congress’ fail to make reforms toward the sustainability of these programs.

Scrapping them entirely only leads to social upheaval, possible civil or revolutionary conflict. So, reforming them is the only realistic option.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 14, 2008 3:36 PM
Comment #270337

David - agreed.

One thing that seems to be a given is that government will never shrink - you can only manage its growth.

Posted by: tcsned at November 14, 2008 4:14 PM
Comment #270344

Paul, thanks for bringing the funny. Less materialism and jealousy, as well as more time to enjoy the simple things, sounds like utopia.

tcsned, there is considerable concern that the bigger banks just want to use the bailout money to buy out other banks, meaning that more decisions affecting lives everywhere will be made on one street in NY. They also want to set up a derivatives exchange in Chicago to help organize the mischief. There is some anger about other aspects of the bailout, with Neel Kashkari:

Posted by: ohrealy at November 14, 2008 5:37 PM
Comment #270349

It took a World War to end the last Great Depression.

Posted by: jlw at November 14, 2008 8:38 PM
Comment #270350

Even if you don’t choose to wait out the recession by skipping through daisy fields, there is some good that will come out of this - like weeding out the criminally stupid CEOs tcsned talked about. Or Americans learning if an interest rate sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Posted by: Mark at November 14, 2008 10:15 PM
Comment #270351

If I were to guess, I’d expect that we’ll start hearing economists throwing the word “Depression” around sometime toward the end of next year. For all the talk of the depression, we’re not even officially in a recession yet, which is defined as two quarters of negative growth. We haven’t even had one quarter of negative growth yet.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at November 14, 2008 10:46 PM
Comment #270353

Don’t worry Paul, the never ending bailout will save us. Now on top of the $700 billion debacle and the automobile companies, I see a few major cities have lined up to take our money. But I guess these cities are also too big to fail.

How can you learn and better your company, or give way to a better idea, if you aren’t bailed out?

D.C. is just a bunch of evil used car salesman. But some have ivy league degrees, so we got that going for us which is nice.

Posted by: frank costanza at November 15, 2008 12:05 AM
Comment #270387

Loyal Opp, there are regions of the country which have been in a recession for years, like Michigan, for example. No wonder the GOP lost Michigan, eh?

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 15, 2008 3:19 PM
Comment #270403

At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect (and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect , … , at least until that finally becomes too painful).

Posted by: d.a.n at November 15, 2008 6:52 PM
Comment #270404

Again, something I do NOT understand the least. Why is it so out of course to think about punishing the people in the highest echelons of money and power on a grassroots basis.

Take the CEO’s of AGI or any of the big bailout receivers and those lenders that caused a big part of this mess. Those guys are not “struggling”, hell, their daily life hasn’t changed much. They still have 10k dinners, stay at resorts, etc.

Why can’t someone, even I’d do this personally, (maybe I will!), get people in your community, your friends, teachers, co-workers, family, to sign or get onboard a way to punish these guys for good. Which means physically TAKING their assets, houses, dogs, cats, cars, TV’s, and putting them out on the street with a set amount of cash?

The law is that ignorance is not an excuse to commit a crime right? Even if these guys “didn’t know” that lending freely would turn out horribly, does that excuse them?

Posted by: Jon at November 15, 2008 7:09 PM
Comment #270408

I think they should all go to jail as terrorists. They put the whole country in jeopardy.

Posted by: womanmarine at November 15, 2008 8:37 PM
Comment #270453

My sense is this: if you’re going to insert government into business, don’t kid yourself about what you’re doing, and don’t make it a preferable outcome for those involved.

The folks at AIG represents a culture of economic elites so totally at peace with screwing the rest of us over that they don’t even think to themselves “Aren’t we going to get our asses kicked if we do this?”

They’re spoiled brats. They don’t really know what they’re doing. For most of them, these businesses mostly exist to make them money. To that end, the mismanaged one company after another, made loans they shouldn’t have.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 16, 2008 5:39 PM
Comment #270503

I suppose this was a tongue in cheek post. I suppose these were mostly tongue in cheek responses.

I am reminded of a former Texas candidate for Governor’s advice to victims of rape: You might as well enjoy it, if it is inevitable.

Amazingly, he didn’t win.

Posted by: snert at November 17, 2008 3:17 PM
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