Tuesday, December 2, 2008

LIKE WE DIDN’T KNOW

“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.

17 comments:

JIm said...

Hopefully Obama will not attempt to copy FDR's terrible economic policies. It is encouraging that he has appointed grown ups who have are knowledgebale about the Depression years. In 1939, even Henry Morgenthal FDR's Treasury Secretary admitted that FDR's economomic policies had been a failure.

"Just look at the numbers from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Survey of Current Business. Unemployment from 1923 to 1929 averaged a mere 3.3%. In FDR’s first year, 1933, it hit its high point of 24.9%. Joblessness did decline for the next three years to 14.3% in 1936, but that’s still deep in depression territory.

The next year unemployment actually spiked up and didn’t fall to 1936 levels again until 1941. “By June 1937, writes Marquette University economic historian Gene Smiley in The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, “the recovery...was over.”

Even FDR Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau admitted the New Deal had failed. “We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work,” he declared in 1939. “We have never made good on our promises...I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started...And an enormous debt to boot!”

Finally war came to the rescue. America began exporting huge amounts of food and equipment..."

harryn said...

don't know why i still get this 'sinking feeling' whenever i see jim's comment after reading something really cool and pointed on your blog ...

maybe its that selective spin or web that's weaved behind some 'gotch ya' motive - or maybe just the idiot kicking the juke box when a good song is on - yeah well ...

i too, love the simplicity of those seasoned veterans of days gone by - my dad and uncles used to say something similar - "when you see that many out of business or for sale signs, it means the politicians are out of control ..."

i think they felt too powerless to hang it on a party - even though they were all democrat, but they were generally mistrusting of government because of their voice being lost in the rank and file ...

i also recall some conversations with the 'elders' during the nixon administration when they thought that what this country needed was a good civil war to make washington more accountable for the voice of the people - you gotta love them ...

interesting little taped conversation of nixon last night on keith obberman - i guess hilary wasn't too far off with her comment about the 'right wing conspiracy' ... like i needed to hear a tape to know ...

JIm said...

Paul,
Poetry and romance can be up lifting, but inaccurate in looking at economic history. The numbers,tax and trade policy reveal what actually happened during the Depression.

epaminondas said...

unfortunately I think that the democrats sold out to the interests of the corporations a long time ago. I came up with a new party, The Demublicans,. A strange irony is that when Joseph Stalin was in power in The Soviet Union his 5 Year Plan hoped to achieve a 'Collective Economy', where each sphere of the economy would be in control of certain people who would direct the course of their specific sphere of influence. We have manifested Stalin's dream and in doing so have established a kind of neo-feudalism where the gov't is a vassel to corporate interests.

Lally said...

Jim, Your smugness is a sign of your ideology. Most of us with a more liberal bent consider all sides, or at least more than just our side, of the evidence and arguments, ala Obama etc. Your limited and edited revisionist rightwing sources backing your distortions of what caused the Great Depression and how FDR's New Deal policies worked to overcome a situation very much like the present one in that both were caused overwhelmingly by Republican administration policies, are characteristic of you and your rightwing brethren's attempts to rewrite history in order to relive your rightwing theories of any culpability for the meeses they continue to get us into. I thank God that the voters in general have rejected that perspective for now. And by the way, I removed your commnet on Max Clelland on the other post because it was a hateful lie. If you want to keep commenting on my blog, keep the lies to a minimum and express your smugness and hatred either more humorously, intelligently, poetically, or in some way rewardingly, otherwise if it's just rightwing slime, it's adios time.

Lally said...

Obviously I meant to write that "you and your rightwing brethren's attempts to rewrite history in order to relieve your rightwing theories of any culpability for the messes they continue to get us into"...and that "I removed your comment" etc. It's what I get for reacting too hastily. But like Paul, I often have a visceral reaction to just seeing the name "Jim" pop up in the comments.
And as for Epiminondus, I hope you're not implying (the commnet is a little confused) that you are one of those patsies (as the old guys used to call it) for the rightwing Republican propaganda ploy that there isn't any difference between Democrats and Republicans (which works for them because rightwing Republicans are in the minority but come out anyway to vote against Democrats, while liberal and leftward Democrats and so-called "Independents" can be disheartened into not bothering (ala Georgia's rerun) by the "not a dime's worth of difference" Nadar b.s. and end up allowing the Republican base to elect rightwing ideologues like Chambliss. If any intelligent, aware, adult U.S. citizen thinks there's no difference between the two major parties, they should be made to sit down and read every law and/or policy passed and enacted under Republican controlled administrations and/or Congresses until they get what the differences are. Similarities? Of course. Too much corporate influence? Absolutely. But if you think there isn't a difference between Bush-Cheney inviting corporate lackeys to actually WRITE THE LEGISLATION they need to favor their interests, and allowing corporate lobbysists to influence individual party members, than you must think there was no difference between the Clinton administration and the present one. And if that's true, I have bank you might want to buy.

JIm said...

The voters rejected McCain, but Obama seems, if his appointments are any indication, to be shifting to the center right. He may think that the loony left policies would be bad for reelection. One can only hope.

PS Max Cleland on Abortion - Did I get this wrong?

Max Cleland
Voted NO on banning partial birth abortions.
This legislation, if enacted, would ban the abortion procedure in which the physician partially delivers the fetus before completing the abortion. [A NO vote supports abortion rights].
Status: Bill Passed Y)63; N)34; NV)3
Reference: Partial Birth Abortion Ban; Bill S. 1692 ; vote number 1999-340 on Oct 21, 1999

epaminondas said...

no doubt that the republicans are very much worse that the democrats. I just long for the day when Democrats actually fought for the working stiff and didn't sponsor bills that allow banks to charge interest rates that use to put loan sharks behind bars.

JIm said...

Mike,
Don't you just hate the contortions that the Right Wing "Bureau of Labor Statistics" must have gone through to distort the numbers in order to fit a "Right Wing Bigot, Jerk, Racist, Anti Humanity, Low Life slice of humanity about the Depression years.(Did I forget anything?)

PS In a crappy stock market, I take solace when you and Paul get that sinking feeling. Diversion helps. We could all become surprised if Obama looks for what works, rather than follow an FDR style economic plan. Can we say corporate tax holiday, cut, tax credit. Somethinggggg please.

harryn said...

i, like the majority of america, am much too aware to be distracted by diversions - that sinking feeling is only a polite precursor to my growing intolerance and absolute disgust for the same type of right wing conservative, fascist-style thinking that led up to the mess we're in ...

the kind of thinking that attempts to re-write history and predicts the future through a filter of exclusivity, prejudice, and supremacist notions under the guise of doing what's good for the people your ideology oppresses ...

once again jim, in my opinion - your desperation for believability and credibility in this forum has spiraled you to a new low ...
time to re-boot and recognize that we're in a new and unprecedented era of politics, diplomacy, and global interdependence that relies on inclusive, humanity-based solutions rather than exclusive, conservative-o-centric, special interest machinations that try to stranglehold the freedoms, health, creativity, education, and well being of 'the people' ...

fortunately, for this time in history, obama's got the non-myopic vision to implement the overdue changes the world needs - and it would be much more productive to attempt understanding, be intelligently cooperative, and positive without the partisan ridicule of the old republic ...

to reiterate your pertinence jim - it wasn't that long ago you were espousing the virtues of the bush administration ... really does make me wonder what you believe - if anything - or if you're just on spin cycle ...

JIm said...

Paul,
I was espousing the merits of a Conservative economic agenda and a vigorous preemptive fight against Islamic killers. Bush was and is a failure as a conservative on the economy. The fact that we have not suffered another 9/11 attack indicates that he was and is a success in protecting the country. I have been consistent on both issues.

PS Paul you seem to becoming more verbose. I wonder if it is the company you keep.

harryn said...

mmm - that sinking feeling and the smell of twisted rationalizations ...

you forgot to say: bush + the party he represents + the advisors that advise him + the special interests he abides to - why should i be surprised ...

JIm said...

Paul,
I think the sinking feeling is from the incomprehensable thought pattern of your last post. I have no idea what you are talking about.

harryn said...

some honesty - finally ...

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but did I miss the evidence or something in Lally's post other than, "you see vacant stores & there's a republican in the white house"?

Is that the "evidence"????

Than answer this -
1. We have an $11 Trillion national debt that we can't pay - how is borrowing MORE money to pay a debt a solution? How will it stimulate? That makes ZERO sense. (If you don't believe me, try it at home with your personal finances)

2. If you have faith in government institutions, why is every gov't program bankrupt? (Soc Security, Fannie & Freddie, Medicaid & Medicare)

3. Here's an easy one - exactly what part of "LIMITED GOVERNMENT" that our country was founded upon, don't you understand???

Abass said...

. After last post on marketing without search engines, I decided to follow up with a strategy you can use to get quality free traffic. One of the easiest ways to get visitors to your web site is to spend money. Nothing is more effortless then paying for traffic. But if you can’t afford it or don’t want to pay, there’s an equally simple but free way to get traffic: ad swaps.
www.onlineuniversalwork.com

tax jobs said...

http://www.taxvacancies.com Looking for employment as an tax services manager? If your career seems to be stagnant or youre lost in the job market, we can help you get back on track. When you need an tax services manager job, At http://taxvacancies.com, you'll get job search benefits you wont find with a headhunter.