Who knows how bad this is going to get? I saw some very angry people interviewed on TV this morning. They had been laid off and didn't entertain much hope of finding another job real soon. In some cases, both husband and wife found themselves unemployed in the same week. They weren't happy. They were pissed off.
Really, how can you not be angry? A bunch of people got filthy rich and the rest of us lose our investments, our jobs, even our homes..
So far, I'm doing fine. Yeah, my investments lost value but I don't draw any income from those, so it really doesn't hurt. My income has fallen off a bit, but I work for myself so I won't lose my job. We have a small mortgage, but it's more than covered by our investments.. though if the stock market plunges far enough, that could change.
So a few thousand people got laid off. A few thousand lose their homes. We shrug our shoulders and feel guilt as they drive away, but mostly we're just secretly glad it's not us.. not yet anyway.
But what happens when if it's a lot more people? What happens when your entire neighborhood is people with no jobs and six months late on their mortgage and taxes? Oh sure, the banks reposess and the numb faces drive away.
Already there have been renters refusing to leave. What happens when the delinquent owners start refusing? Well, the cops come and do their job, right?
What happens when the cops ignore the banks?
And it's winter and there's no money for heating oil and Mom and Dad are going hungry because there's really only enough food to feed the kids.. what happens then?
That's the real worry here. That's why the politicians are so nervous. We know where this mess came from and we know who to blame. Did your average Joe know who to blame in 1929? I don't know. I've been Googling around trying to find people who lived through it writing memoirs, and have come across some interesting things. A few clips from http://www.rinfret.com/depression.html:
Well, the Republicans aren't blaming it on us - though there has been a little of that sentiment from both sides. I'd say the well-to-do still have zero sympathy, though they may have more fear.
Fear because we very well could have civil unrest, insurrection. I don't think that the populace at large is going to stoically accept their own economic ruin. I think there are going to be a lot of very angry people.
I don't have the beginnings of a clue about what can be done. Trouble is, I don't think any of our so-called leaders do either.
Almost everything you read about this says "But this is not 1929". They are right, it isn't. It's worse. In 1929, no one had Social Security. Which also means that no one expected any help. In 1929, most people didn't have telephones, refrigerators, air conditioners, fancy automobiles.. Simply put, there was less to lose. That's not to minimize the distress and poverty of the depression years - what I mean is that most Americans today have much more to lose and farther to fall. A person living in a rat infested apartment who is forced to move to a slighly worse apartment won't be as angry and desperate as the person moving from their cozy four bedroom suburban home. The more you lose, the more ripped off you feel.
We don't have large numbers of people out of work yet. Most of us probably don't have many friends or relatives who have lost their homes. Our investments may not be what they were a year ago, but again, most are far from worthless. We're not at the point of the wide spread anger I posit above.
But we can get there.
Have our leaders anticipated this? This
(link dead, sorry)
Myspace blog implies as much:
Don't get too upset though: according to that report the soldiers will be trained to use "the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded".
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