The New Great Depression

A few years back Peter Schiff opined the Great Depression of the 1930s would look like a Sunday school picnic compared to what is headed our way. Without a doubt the cat is out of the bag. Everyone knows things are not going well. Unfortunately, it seems most people think that fixing the system, changing the politicians, tweaking the rules and the return to honorable ways of yesteryear hold the solution to restoring our idea of a stable and prosperous society.

The disconnect is easy to perceive when we compare black and white faded photos from the 1930’s of dusty farms, soup lines and children who don’t smile to the modern edgy world images from our cell phones, televisions and computers of how things supposedly are now. We live in a bright and vivid world where descriptions have been meticulously spoon fed to us so we will largely act according to how others might see us and we can feel better about ourselves. This only works until financial or emotional changes crash into our lives such as the Big One roaring towards us all now.

The New Depression already began and the news blackout is deafening. Aside from malcontents who insist upon harping on unpleasant subjects and who have no desire to participate in society’s uniform "solutions", one only has to watch a Sunday football game and it’s commercials to be refreshed in the programming that the American dream indeed lives on. It’s right there in front of us to see with our own eyes and if you are not living that life you are obviously doing something wrong. (And obviously this is sarcasm.)

americandream

As the government has altered the methods to compute inflation, unemployment and debt, the headlines are meaningless since we can no longer use these measures to compare with numbers from the past. Most people are so busy and programmed in their complicated lives that even if it is noticed, what could we possibly do about it? So we suck it up and proceed, feeling better after we catch that prescribed Sunday game. If we’re lucky we have a few like minded friends or family members to gripe to about the state of things before we carry on in the same manner. Until we can’t.

The modern day New Depression has indeed arrived, it just hasn’t been announced yet. Draw your own conclusions. The population of America: 319 million or 4.4% of the people in the world. Americans who are of working age and are “out of the work force”: 92 million. The average household worth compared to ten years ago: 36% less. Number of homeless people in America: 1.75 million (and those are the ones they can find to count). The percent of American college grads supported by parents two years after attaining their degree: 50%. The number of Americans who lead hungry lives: 31 million.

It is here and it’s about to get much uglier. How our personal future develops is largely dependent upon the mindset we each adopt now. As many of us have recently concluded, this postponement of announcing the reality and truth of the dire situation has bought us time. This is our wiggle room. It may last for a few more years or it may end next month.

What is required is something we can choose voluntarily or wait until it is forced upon us by circumstances. It is a critical examination and re-prioritizing of what we value. More than just taking for granted a roof over our heads and a meal when we are hungry a new mindset, or rather a return to what many consider old school views, is called for.

In a world of instant gratification and narcissistic attitudes, where many collect affirmation from unlimited sources via social media, all those “likes” aren’t going to mean so much when one is suddenly living in their car. Who won on the reality TV show of the week will quickly become meaningless when the kids are hungry. These rude awakenings happen every day for people and continue at an accelerated rate.

For years now I have followed the progress of well meaning people trying to change this downhill progression of behavior and the resulting events by means of protest, political change or through the alternative media. While more people are becoming aware of the true reality swirling around the pretty images of life still broadcasted to us, the system careens towards the tar pits and our efforts must first and foremost be focused upon ourselves. As I have stated many times before, if we are to help anyone else we must first put on our own oxygen mask and breathe deeply.

There are some tough truths to think about if you are going to save yourself. The one that knocked me off my feet was learning that if I don’t know how to take care of myself, then I am dependent upon others. And that is about to be a very bad thing. I realized I depended upon an employer to pay me so I could pay for food, water, heat, housing, basic sanitation; in essence every product I use. And I depend upon other people to do their job so I can access these goods and services. Many now depend upon the government to provide what they cannot. The opportunity to alter the way we depend upon others to fill our needs may or may to not be available or affordable in the future. And this deficiency exposes each of us to assured failure at some point along the line.

poverty in the USAWikiHow now supplies us with instructions on How To Live On The Street.

I was not really providing any of this for myself, but rather depending upon everyone else’s specialties to supply goods and services to me and others. The risk that another cannot or will not fulfill their end of this collective bargain is known as counter-party risk. As our systems degrade, this risk will be the weakest link for most people.

Being prepared for events or changing times is a very good idea, one I wholeheartedly endorse. But to only prepare yourself for a rough patch and then to expect life will continue with business as usual, because (after all) it always has, is foolish in the face of a paradigm change such as the magnitude the world is facing.

Never before have global systems of banking, food, natural resources and information been so over-leveraged and extended. When the music stops and everybody reaches for their chair, rather than one person being left without a seat, there will be one heavily protected chair for every 20 or 30 people. That is when the New Depression becomes official and is acknowledged in a public out loud voice.

It won’t matter whether the catalyst is blamed on an epidemic, terrorism or even Krugman’s alien invasion. Finally everyone will see that the music has stopped playing and be forced to recognize we are living in a very different world. May I humbly propose that what that world becomes for each of us ultimately largely depends upon what we do now.

For me, as I expect is also the case for many of you, making decisions that bring about big changes in our lives will be met with great disapproval of those closest to you. We live in a society where change is bad and should be resisted, unless of course it involves upward mobility and better “things”.

Moving to a smaller house? Yanking the kids out of the school system where their friends are? Leaving the urban jungle for parts unknown? This is just crazy talk. After all, in order to have these be positive changes, one would need to acknowledge that happiness does not come from what we have in life or how others perceive us. It requires a huge deliberate mental adjustment. I would suggest that this decision is your proverbial oxygen mask. Breathe deep and become comfortable with the new air. I think you’ll find it much fresher.

Rethinking the big picture involves “crazy talk” such as considering the liquidation of today’s luxuries and believed future security for a different goal. Try telling anyone who understands finance that you are thinking of quitting your job so you can get your hands on your 401k so you can cash it out after paying 45% in penalties and taxes. Then add the part about downsizing your home and lifestyle and for a while you will find you’ve become the new cautionary tale that person tells others about.

But here is the thing you can’t get around. When the music stops playing, whatever you have is all you have. Whether those 'things' consist of retirement funds, brokerage accounts or whatever you have at the bank, or public 'benefits' such as Social Security, disability, Medicare, Medicaid or EBT, all of them are just pieces of paper with a promise on it and you will NOT be on the short list of people to get what they expect. The late comedian George Carlin informed us many years ago, “It’s a small club and you ain’t in it.”

hungry

For now, those paper promises are still being delivered. The US Dollar has not become so debased it is worthless....yet. Capital controls have not yet been completely implemented to 'protect' your retirement funds from yourself. Even if you have no savings and are receiving food stamps and government aid, there are many choices everyone can make to be less dependent upon others, even if each seems like an inconsequential baby step. Every step you can take to provide something for yourself is a victory.

This is not your granny’s depression, this is the New Depression where anybody who really desires to can access the information highway and find alternatives, especially with a bit of help. As the systems we depend upon degrade, we can actually improve our lives with each decision we act upon as we learn that our needs and wants aren’t really what we were taught they are.

As the momentum of change progresses, the fear levels will increase and the herd will be corralled in various directions, often not ultimately in their best interest. The only way to avoid the majority of the chaos is to be able to depend upon yourself. Roll up your sleeves, it’s going to take a lot of time and hard work.

Many definitions are going to need revising such as what is 'normal' and what does one 'deserve'. How we choose to look at life will determine the new normal and will predicate what we create and how we treat others. If the rules are all about to change, what better time to set an example such as showing small kindnesses or taking the generosity of our time to teach someone something useful? Maybe I cannot save the current system, but I certainly can turn to my neighbor and lend a hand.

I would suggest that before the brunt of the storm hits that all of us, even those far ahead of the curve, take some extra time to consider what we need and value. If you think because you are but one person that what you choose and how you act doesn’t make a difference, I am here to say you are wrong. How you write the narrative of your own reality makes all the difference in the world.

Teaching the next ones a better way.
Teaching the next ones a better way.
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5 thoughts on “The New Great Depression”

  1. Mrs Cog,

    The Psychopaths are really pouring on the fear lately. I know it’s psychopath produce fear and I’m better, much better at not letting it control me.( Thank You, you and you and him and her also) But what used to bother me but not so much anymore are the people who don’t or want to read essays like this, how they’re reacting to the fear, they’re not, it doesn’t seem to affect them at all, and that’s not because they know it’s produced fear, they just don’t seemed to care. They still care deeply about Football, Nascar and The Walking dead. I find it extremely difficult to talk to my neighbors, friends and family anymore. I’m just not seeing a lot of goodness in people these days. Does this make me a bad person?

    I’ll always help anyone if I can, I’ve done this pretty much all of my life. I’m sure all of us will be faced with difficult choices at some point and I hope we all do the right thing. That’s really all that matters.

    Mr Pepper

  2. “Aside from malcontents who insist upon harping on unpleasant subjects and who have no desire to participate in society’s uniform “solutions”,”

    Well there’s my next forum handle when I get tired of Disenchanted.

    btw that second pic looks like Music City, TN…That’s the ‘Batman Bldg’ in the background.

    I guess that dude only had 37 dollars and a Jap guitar…h/t Steve Earle: Guitar Town

    Mr. Pepper said:

    “I find it extremely difficult to talk to my neighbors, friends and family anymore. ”

    I hear ya bro…

  3. The family and friends we find it hard to talk with do see and hear same the things we do. If they seem to dismiss it or be in denial and refuse to explore it further, their subconscious still holds these images and ideas. Perhaps this lack of acknowledgement on a grand scale is a large part of what makes us collectively sick as a society. It’s hard to refute that if people talked openly about views and ideas without being judgmental and considered other aspects the world could be a very different place.

  4. “We interrupt this program to bring you (insert psy-op of the moment).” Yep. TV and movies carry a lot of the blame for the current state of affairs. Wasn’t always so – but it is, now.

    When the last Depression rolled up (mid-to-late 1920’s), the stock market was still a new pony to ride. Radios only existed in up-scale homes, phones were tethered to party lines and commuting was a non-event. Travel was by bus or train – slow train, at that. People mostly had gardens, traded with only local businesses and didn’t travel overseas unless they were stinkin’ rich – or traveling cargo/steerage under terrible conditions, going the opposite direction to get away from something even worse.

    The USofA was the fabled ‘Promised Land’. Not, as it’s turned out. While the engineers of that earlier event were probably very similar to the ones lurking behind the Wall Street/banking greenback curtain of today, it was ALL very new to the great un-washed of that period. They were too busy making new lives for themselves and simply trying to stay alive in a new world. For them, at the end of a very hard day of work, news was papers and movies were 10-cent week-end escapes from the misery of the moment. End of story.

    Not so for us: now, they are ‘information’ and ‘entertainment’.

    Right.

    When the post-WW2 folks shook off the dust and detritus of that folly, they threw away a lot of things – but not the war-time practice of movie propaganda and radio herd-direction that had been so useful at turning ‘others’ into monsters that needed killing. (If you don’t believe me, check out ‘Uncle Walt’s’ wartime bona fides.) Now, their billionaire owners are far ahead of the curve with these tools. TV, movies and even the ‘net are now quite useful as replacements for the patriotic cattle prod that used to work so well. Now, we’re already trained to respond the way they want us to because, of course, ‘It’s just a movie/TV show/ballgame’.

    Today, we’re already screwed, blued and tattoo’d at every turn by media of all kinds: social, ‘net, ‘film’ (at 7), ‘news’, and general TV programming, not the least of which are seductively addictive series on most of the hundreds of channels now elbowing one another for our attention, 24/7. Oh – and let’s not forget ads, that useless emotion-candy that convinces us we need ‘just one more thing’ and we’ll be just all right. Gaaaak.

    We have been successfully trained to BELIEVE this stuff – and to organize our so-called lives accordingly. Far be it from us to lift our grazing heads and look into the distance at new horizons and possibilities. Unless, of course, we choose not to keep chewing, get a move on and get ready for the mayhem that is poking its hoary head up over the next hill.

    Sorry: the system IS broken. One could cobble it back together . . . but the Frankenstein monster that would emerge isn’t something any of us would want for a bed-mate. So, maybe this puppy needs to fall – but what will replace it?

    We really are, each of us, at a major choice-point in our individual and our collective lives: How do we go on from here? Well, I’d suggest something a bit wider in scope, once we’ve finally taken personal responsibility for our individual selves, faced the cacophony and learned the steps for self-sufficiency:

    Inter-dependency.

    “The one that knocked me off my feet was learning that if I don’t know how to take care of myself, then I am dependent upon others.”

    (Mrs. Cog, above.)

    Again, yep. We truly are dependent on others. However, that is not at all a bad thing in my book. Note: I don’t include being dependent on hand-outs, government largesse :) or the whim/will of corporate mega-theaters of international financial warfare in this. Instead, I would like to point to another way of experiencing dependency as a mutual dance of respect, appreciation and humility towards our own local, fellow experiencers in this slowly tumbling house of cards.

    We do need one another – every real community has inter-woven, inter-locking forms of inter-dependence at its heart. No one can do everything, own everything, save/buy/store/offer/do/be everything. Each of us has skills and gifts that are something we do better than anything else – and those are the goodies that we can exchange with others for the things/abilities that they have to share with us.

    Right now, there is such a focus on being rugged individuals. I say a tree that cannot bend will break. That is what happens to a person who refuses to recognize that, even as unique as they are, they are part of a whole and if they persist in standing alone, eventually lightning will strike and they will be toast. Sorry ‘bout that, but it’s true. No one can remain a secluded island for long in the mega-storm that is headed our way. We are all going to need to remember that we do need others and that this isn’t a bad thing – in fact it is a life-saving thing in the end.

    What we don’t need is the current, very broken false dependency on failed systems, promises and ‘leaders’ who care nothing for anyone but themselves. That is the dead end we are headed for; so it’s up to each of us, both individually and together, to pull the lever and head off on a new track, before the engine finds the brick wall.

    May we find the wisdom and courage to do so, before it’s too late.

    LionLady

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