May 17, 2010

The Great Depression 2010 - Are We There Yet?

Image: "Migrant Mother" by D. Lange,
(colorized version)
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
In London's TimesOnline yesterday, columnist Minette Martin warned that England must prepare to live once again as it did during the years surrounding World War Two - she labels it as "austerity chic." Her column, "Waste Not, Want Not: here comes the new austerity chic," is worth the read.

Ms. Martin discusses how those of the 1930s and 1940s kept their frugal habits through the remainder of their lives, and how the realities of debt and unemployment in Great Britian today will be forcing its citizens into a new area of "austerity."  She encourages her readers to "embrace the new thrift," and how this can actually be a good thing. 

But here's the clincher:  this well-respected journalist in an internationally renowned publication actually uses the word "poor" -- which is, of course, the terror striking the hearts of so many right now. 

The Great Depression - Is It Here Already?

There's actually a website that is devoted to "The Great Depression 2010."  It describes itself as a "chronicle" of those events that mark the United States' descent into another Great Depresssion.  In 2008, experts were already discussing another Great Depression by 2011.  Heck, Wikipedia has an article entitled, "the Financial Crisis of 2007-2010," and it's pretty detailed and worth your time, if you're into the economic aspects of this thing.

However, in answer to my question, it the depression here already, I am looking not at discussions of the evil that is Goldman Sachs, or bubbles, or the impact of Japan or China or India or Mexico upon our country.

Are We Doomed to be (gasp) Poor?

Instead, I'm looking around me at what I see in my world - as I've done before.  And, I don't think we're there yet, at least in San Antonio, Texas.  Depressed, maybe, but it's not "Great" -- yet.  But I think we're gonna see it, and maybe that means within the next 6 months. 

It's bad here, don't get me wrong.  Lotsa empty store fronts and hungry people.  However, this weekend as I drove past the North Star Mall, its parking lot was still full to the brim.  People are still buying designer labels and fine jewelry (just watch HSN or QVC), and this morning I got an email from a new Mustang Island condo development telling me to get in now, before prices go up as the economy continues to recover! 

Frogs in a Pot

Reminds me of that story of how to kill frogs.  If you try to put them in a pot of boiling water, they'll fight you and try to avoid the plunge.  However, if you put them in a pot of tepid water and then let the heat slowly rise, those frogs won't be smart enough to jump out of the pot.  They'll literally sit there and get boiled alive.

What To Do About It

Living simply isn't stupid or lazy or crazy, although I've been called all three.  It's smart.  It's wise. And, it's fun and peaceful and really quite nice. 

Which means that I agree with the conclusions of Minette Martin yesterday -- the New Poor may discover that they will be much happier living without all that Stuff  though they're not willing it to consider just yet.  Right now, Denial remains something that is much more than a river in Egypt.


finallygettingtoeven said...

I have to agree with you on your observations of the shopping that is still very much going on. I would also like to add the crowded restaurant parking lots that i drive by.

McDonalds, Wendy's, Etc...they are still lined up 10 deep during b-fast/lunch/dinner hours.

A good friend works for UPS, has for 30 years now. She says the traffic has not slowed since x-mas time. Maybe people have changed WHAT they buy but they are still very much buying.

I don't think we are there yet. Sure there are plenty that this recession hit hard. Unemployment at 10%, but that still leaves the other 90% to spend. I think of those about 50% 'got it' and have begun to live a more normal life without all the over consumption that we all grew accustomed to.

But things are still changing. Businesses failing, jobs being lost. In my small town we are still in laying off phases and there is not much end in site.

While we did not escape the job loss (however, this was a voluntary loss as hubby quit his corporate rat race job while he still had his sanity). But my family learned to live well below our means many years ago and we socked away enough to get us through. Now hubby can get on to doing something that he really enjoys. We know how to stretch a dollar til it screams and we saw the light and paid off all our debt before this crises hit. For once, right place, right time.

Reba Kennedy said...


First- thanks for writing!

Love your blog and I've just added it to my blog roll.

And congratulations to you and your hubby for proactively simplifying your life. That is a wonderful thing!

God bless,

Laura said...

Hi Reba, just found your site. Your comment about the full parking lot makes me wonder if the dpression, if we are in one now, will be different than the one then in just that very way. It may be split more tween the haves and the have nots. Also ebay is still doing a brisk biz with colletibles. Makes me want to get out all my vintage stuff and sell it to those who are still buying. I was raised by parents who made it thru the depression and I have been almost as thrifty as them. I feel good that I have not been a wasteful person as I also have a love of the environment. My Mother, being a extrovert told me so much about survival during hard times that I can think of many ways to make it. We have been fortunate being in Teaxas to not see the worse effects of the country's donwturn. The middle of the US is a bit of an oasis currently. ciao, cau.

Reba Kennedy said...

Hi Laura,
Thanks for writing! Interesting about the EBay business in collectibles. I wonder who those buyers are ....
I agree with you that Texas is a good place to be right now - California is a beautiful state but I'm very happy that I'm not living there!
I wrote this post awhile back and here we are, ending the first quarter of 2011. I think it's clear that the country is in a depression at this point, and the question now is how long it will last and bad will it be. Certain regions of the country are harder hit than others, granted. But it's definitely a national economic crisis ... and maybe one that's inevitable given the past materialism and greed of the past few decades. ForeclosureGate, one example.

Whew! I'm veering from comment to post!
Thanks again for writing,Laura!
God bless,

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