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Monday, October 11, 2010

WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT DEPRESSION

"If, with all the advantages I've had, I can't make a living, I'm just no good, I guess."
–unemployed Texas schoolteacher, 1933

Great Depression
My mom and her 3 sisters grew up during the great depression. They were born in the 30s and knew only want and poverty in their youth. I have a lot of stories in my head from them about what they did and how they made it, but what made the greatest impact on their lives wasn't the lack of sufficient food or new clothes, it was what it did to their perception of the world and how to act.

My mom, for example, keeps aluminum foil after she's used it. She washes it, folds it up, and keeps it in the drawer. If she needs more foil, out it comes to be reused. She darns her socks, she keeps plastic bags to store things. I follow her habit of keeping old containers to store leftovers in - and keep leftovers, to eat later. I learned to cook from scratch, and how to make things last from her.

Her and her sisters all follow a regular pattern of life which was born of necessity, burned into their memories by their youth, and they do it without thinking. They did so because when you couldn't afford to buy more than a single can of Campbell's soup to split between five people (dad got meat so he'd have the strength to work at the railroad), you made everything last.

Another significant habit they've all picked up is cleanliness. Today everything is so sterilized and packaged and preserved we have less problem with disease, virus, and infection. For them, everything had to be cleaned up immediately and kept that way or people might die. It hasn't been all that long ago that some kinds of diabetes was a death sentence and Polio killed most people it didn't permanently cripple. They are very careful about keeping tools, surfaces, food, and everything clean because its more healthy.

Having these examples around me and their advice I'm contemplating something depressing. Not specifically depressing in the sense of low spirits and sadness, but in the sense of economics.

It would not surprise me in the slightest to see the world economy get significantly worse before it gets better. News media folks are suggesting that 10% unemployment might be the new "normal" which basically means they're resigned to the idea that things ain't getting better any time soon. To be honest I expect to see inflation soon - I expected it to be here already. Taxes are about to go through the roof, especially on business and investors (you know, the guys that hire you and me) and that means unemployment will likely get worse.

In other words, people might be interested in tips and ideas on how to weather the economic storm. A blog on depression survival tips might be something appreciated. And even if things get better, tips on frugality and careful use of resources are always useful. I don't know if there's much interest out there or honestly if I have the energy and time to do one more thing, but its a thought.

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