“The U.S. economy officially sank into a recession last December, which means that the downturn is already longer than the average for all recessions since World War II.” —NY Times 12/2/08
When I was a kid, my father—who lost everything in the first few years of the Great Depression, before FDR was elected, and then almost lost everything again during what he called "the Eisenhower recession"—would point out the number of vacant stores in our town and say “You can always tell if there’s a Republican or Democrat in the White House by counting the number of stores that have gone out of business.”
He believed that the policies of the Republicans favored the “big boys”—as he called them—who were able to buy back whatever my old man owned for “a dime on the dollar” as he’d say, “or sometimes a nickel” during economic bad times.
In other words, as smaller businesses failed, bigger businesses could gobble them up cheap.
My father was a seventh-grade drop out, a self-made man, as they used to say, who always had some sort of business going on, even if it was just “making book.” And his political philosophy was almost as simple as his father’s—an Irish peasant immigrant who became the first cop in our town—which was “If you got a dollar in your pocket, you’re a Democrat, if you got two or more, you’re a Republican.”
Those little sayings always stayed with me, and over the years I’ve always paid close attention to the number of vacant stores wherever I lived, and when they started increasing, sure enough, a Republican would be in the White House.
Sometimes it was during what the economists called a “recession” and sometimes it wasn’t. But I always knew what it was. Just as I’ve been aware for the past year, as I’m sure most of us have, that things weren’t going well economically, because in my little town, only one town over from where I grew up, the store vacancies have continued to increase (including recently a Ford dealership that had been here since I was kid and before).
Glad the economists and now the politicians will be catching up. And hopefully, the new Democratic administration will once again find a way out of the mess they, and the rest of us, have been left with, and the young folks will remember the lesson. Unless you’re big enough to withstand a recession, or even a depression, and can take advantage of the reduction in prices of property and businesses and etc., you best vote for the Democratic ticket.