Gallery I
Cold And Hungry
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Nobody Wants To Use The Word “Depression”

By James Donahue

Barack Obama may unfairly go down in history as the man that presided over this nation’s second great depression. But we all know that he inherited a financial disaster created by the Republicans and former President George W. Bush.

His political future may hang on his ability to dig us out of this mess before his first term expires. And this effort is being severely hampered by the very people who created the problem. 

The Republican collaborators dropped all federal controls and allowed bankers, big business operators and Wall Street crooks to operate like they did during the Roaring 20’s. The careless betting on real estate and stock transactions that preceded the first depression was almost identical to the operations that went on . . . and apparently continue to go on    today. The wheeler dealers and our paid-off elected legislators are rolling in wealth while the remainder of the nation is falling quickly into gross poverty.

If you are among the lucky few that still have jobs you may want to think this is not a depression. But we bet that you are looking the other way as you drive your way to work each day so you don’t have to notice the homeless people sleeping on park benches, under cardboard boxes, or in tent cities within the town park.

And perhaps you haven’t noticed the long unemployment lines, or the lines of people applying for the few advertised jobs, or the rows of foreclosure signs posted throughout suburban America. And you may be annoyed when you learn that your child is packed this year in an overcrowded classroom because the school was forced to lay off teachers and cut services.

If you think we are exaggerating, consider the following information issued by the Census Bureau and the National Academy of Science.  A revised formula for calculating medical costs and other factors like geography, employment and food stamps issued indicates that an estimated 47.4 million Americans last year lived in poverty. And that calculates down to one out of every six Americans.

How is poverty defined by our government? The statistics are based on a complex formula depending on family size, the age of the members, the total amount of money earned and other factors. Members can be working at a low-income job that does not raise the family above the poverty threshold.

Many believe the government’s definition of the poverty threshold is too low because the formula fails to help feed and clothe many families left really struggling to make ends meet. A basic formula has been spending one-third of the family income for food. If this is not enough then the family is considered to be living in poverty.

What we are watching happen before our eyes is a collapse of the American dream. Because we allowed the factories that once stimulated jobs and kept money flowing to move overseas on a quest for cheap labor, there is little left except high tech jobs that require special skills, or minimum-wage public service jobs to be had. We are no longer making many products for sale, or paying workers enough for them to buy the things we do manufacture.

Working families are finding themselves choosing between buying food and paying the rent. They live from day to day in fear of getting sick because there is no money for medical bills. There are few choices for employment. If one has a job, he or she must hang onto it at all cost even if the working conditions are terrible and the pay is low. Employers know this and this knowledge seems to have brought out a tendency for callousness. Many can’t avoid the temptation to subjugate and bully workers, thus taking perverted pleasure out of turning the workplace into a living hell.

While economists are publically stating that the “recession” is coming to an end, and we see stocks selling at rising prices, economic conditions in small town America are getting worse. There are no jobs and many believe things are going to stay this way for a very long time. The bubble has burst, the banks are raising interest rates on credit cards if they are issuing any credit at all so plastic money isn’t working any more, people have stopped buying anything but the bare essentials, and everything is crashing.

There is a sickening feeling out here that we are going to have to learn to live with something called the “new normal” of joblessness, low standards of living and just plain poverty. We are talking true poverty, like the kind we read about in second and third world countries. That is far worse than the government defined “poverty threshold.”

The day may soon arrive when the name “Bush” will be a curse word on many people’s lips. What he and his ilk allowed was for the fat cats to destroy the job-creating dynamics of a nation that once knew greatness. It remains to be seen whether we will have the ability to build it all up again.