Friday, January 2, 2009

What will we learn from this recession?

Today's pondering thanks to this article...
What lessons, I wonder, will the great downturn of 2008 teach our children? Obviously, the answer depends on how bad things get. This is a global cataclysm that's more vivid in the headlines than in most people's pocketbooks. Unemployment remains below 7 percent, and gas prices and mortgage rates are down. The crisis is still more like a dark thundercloud than a pelting hurricane.
I hope we don't "learn" that the government is our insurance plan. Unfortunately, if Washington has its way, that will be the short term lesson. Let's hope it's a very short-lived lesson that is discredited by some blatant government incompetency or even bigger financial meltdown (but only if it knocks people back to their senses).

Already I hear people on the street and in the metro saying things like, "I can't wait until Obama is in office - he gonna pay my mortgage!" That's the trickle down effect of headlines like the Fed printing an endless supply of money and Congress passing trillion dollar bailout plans. The defining moment for my generation (so far) has been 9/11, but we were largely sheltered from both that tragedy and the aftermath. We continued to live our lives.

My dear grandmother still talks about the year during the Great Depression her family ate nothing but onions, potatoes, and squirrel. I have a quilt on my bed that was stitched by my great great grandmother out of scraps of dresses women in my family wore during the Great Depression. When my grandmother passed it on to me, she pointed at one patch, "I wore that dress when I was 12." And another patch, "I got that dress for my 16th birthday." Why does she remember? Because she got so few new dresses each year! It's a humbling artifact that makes me feel better about my shrinking clothes budget.

Here's to feeling the pinch a little bit more.

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