thread on a website forum the other day.
One of the members had been talking with his 93 year old neighbor who had suffered through the Great Depression.
The old duffer seemed to be a pretty wise old coot. He said that in a way what is happening now is worse than the Crash of '29 and the ensuing depresion. His point was taken by me.
Of course, during the depression there were numbers of people that were litrally starving and had little or nothing. Foreclosures were a daily occurance and the country was flat on its ass. There were no safety nets like there are today.
Sometime around 1964 my father comented that it was 'against the law to starve in this country' and he really was right. It pretty much is because of the vaious programs out there. It's even more so today.
In reality what is going on now isn't a puff of smoke compared to the depression of the thirties.
What is a reality is how much further the average guy is going to fall if the bottom really does drop out of the system.
I have lived rock bottom as a younger man and was as happy as a lark. I lived in a camper trailer in the outskirts of town, rent-free with literally no expenses. Food was a freebie because in that part of coastal Akaska all a guy needed was an old rifle and a fishing pole. The paradox of living in poverty there was that I generally ate better than the rich folks did. I had no electricity, no running water save an inside pump connected to a water tank that I filled up when it got low. There was no TV, but I did have a wonderful shortwave radio that I had rigged up to run off of 12 volts which was supplied by a spare car battery I had scrounged. I recharged it every so often by swapping it out on my pickup, which I seldom drove because gas cost money and it was generally easier to walk or hitch hike.
In truth, I had very little to lose.
Every so often the forces in power would make me move my trailer, which I did. It was part of a game that was played to appease the idiots that lived in town and had too much time on their hands and looked down on me and my kind. The police would tell me it was time to move and I moved to some other spot on the fringes of town.
It was that simple and I had no real problems with the lifestyle at the time. Go down a few posts and see how I handled a law suit. Click on the post 'Someone recently asked me if I had ever been sued'. It's pretty much a true story.
Today is a lot different, yet I'd have to say I sure have it a lot better than a lot of people. My home and vehicle are paid for and that means that I am not a slave to the bank. The difference between then and now is that I really have a lot more to lose.
Still, all in all, if I lost it all, it would not be the end of the world.
I've been there and it wasn't all in all a bad place to be.
A lot of people have not.
We have built a pretty good society here and people have had it pretty good for quite some time now. A lot of the things we have we take for granted and now refer to as needs.
The other day while I was making out the grub list I had a crewman tell me that we 'needed' potato chips and coca cola and he got brought up pretty short. I went to the cabinet and handed him a can of corned beef and pointed at the water tap and told him that it was all he needed to get by for a day and that we had enough basic food like that on board for the rest of the tour. He blanched, but it was true. It is what you need to get by.
I then told him that I had no intention of living in such primitive squalor, though so I would cheerfully give him what he wanted so I ordered the chips and coke. He hasn't told me he needs something since, which is nice, as I dislike whiners.
We eat like hogs, and a lot of us are outright fat. We have technology all around us to the point where even those on welfare have cell phones and high speed internet. It wasn't too long ago we had no cell phones or internet. Now we hear people say they would die wthout their cell phone, even though about 95% of what passes as important conversations are really conversations over what color dress Madge wore to the party last weekend.
In the thirties that would be back-fence gossip over what feed company made the burlap sack Madge wore to the church social.
We have a raised the standard of living to a much higher point than our World War 2 predecessors.
If the system collapses it is certainly going to be a lot more of a fall than the poeple of the thirties took, and it's going to hurt one hell of a lot more.
Back in the thirties, there was the WPA where men worked for the government building infastructure and there are a lot of roads and bridges still in daily use that attest to that. There was also the CCC and the reason our national park system is what it is today in part is because of the CCC.
The CCC paid fifty bucks a month and someone guesstimated that it was about $1600/month by todays standard.
It's not a lot of money, but back then it was the difference between keeping the family together and starvation.
Today, by the standard of the day, the average guy couldn't do squat with that, or at least come close to keeping his lifestyle.
Let's look at things this way by taking a trip to Wally World. We see two guys there of pretty much identical bone structure. The ideal weight for these two is 150 pounds. One of the guys weighs 155 and the other has eaten himself up to 300 pounds. Now we make them reduce to their ideal weight.
For the smaller of the two, losing a mere five pounds means he skips a couple of cheesburgers and walks around the block a couple times a week. It is no big deal.
Not so for the fattie. You KNOW he's going to be hurting. He's going to have to go from ten pounds of French fries, a large pizza and two dozen burgers down to a salad a day and spend hours and hours huffing and puffing on the treadmill. It's gotta just plain hurt.
It's the same way for our present society. If we fall it is going to hurt a whole lot more than it did back in the thirties.
The old man was right. For some people the recession is worse for them than it was for the guy in the thirties.
Incidentally, for me the country is in a recession. My neighbor is out of work.
Ronald Reagan said it. "When your neighbor is out of work, it's a recession. When you are out of work, it's a depression."