With all of this talk comparing our present economic environment to the Great Depression, it is not hard for me to imagine that I am walking down the same path that my parents walked in the 1930’s. My parents were young at the time but they spoke often of how it shaped their lives. Recently my wife and I have had several discussions about how frugality is not only necessary but probably essential to our survival. It is the serious tone of our conversations about being more careful with our money that reminds me of my parents. As we try to sort things out, our spending habitats seem to be mimicking the spending habits of our parents. Although I do not remember distinctly what my parents said when they talked about the Depression at the dinner table, I do find that some of my more frugal statements have a dÃ©jÃ vu quality about them.
Another area that has a familiar look to it is our government tone in their response to the economic crisis. It seems that every proposal has a aura of panic about it. Instead of instilling confidence with measured responses, they seem to enjoy fanning the flames of panic with emergency laws and “trust me” explanations that short circuit the slower democratic process. It seems that everything must be enacted immediately or there will be dire consequences. Autocracy is favored over democracy. This leaning toward autocracy reminds me that the 1930’s was the time in which Hitler and Huey Long came to power.
The final area in which we seems to be following the script of the 1930’s is our government policies. Our government seems to be floundering with a myriad of proposals that look like throwbacks to the programs enacted in the 1930’s. Most of the 1930’s programs are generally considered to have prolonged unemployment and lengthened the depression. We have the benefit of both history and common sense and we seem to be ignoring both of them. Frankly I’m scared that our government will make things much worse. I bet my parents were scared in the 1930’s, too.