The New American
February 5, 2009
What began early last year as a “credit crunch” and an “economic downturn” is now being characterized as a “long, severe recession.” Once upon a time, such a crisis was known as a “depression” before Americans became squeamish about such stark language.
As with our reluctant semantic retreat from “credit crunch” to “recession,” the reality of another Great Depression will probably not be acknowledged until years after the fact. But America and the rest of the modern world, by doggedly pursuing the same mistaken policies of the 1920s and ’30s, have made a full-blown depression — lasting years, not months, and featuring catastrophic failures in entire economic sectors along with chronic double-digit unemployment and monetary malaise — all but inevitable. In fact, the parallels between the run-up to the Great Depression and today’s economic havoc are stunning.
The Roaring ’20s, ’80s, and ’90s
By 1929, the United States — and most of the rest of the industrial world — had been on a nine-year joy ride known as the “Roaring Twenties.” It was an age of unparalleled new technology — the heyday of the silent film era and the Model T Ford, and the beginning of radio and commercial air service, among many other modern marvels. The first American generation to consecrate itself to mass entertainment came of age in the Twenties. It was the first recognizably modern decade, and the future, to the flappers, barnstormers, and other bons vivants that characterized the age, looked very bright indeed. Accordingly, it was also an age of bold enterprises — of the beginning of mass production and of skyscraper construction. For the first time ever, Americans had enough extra money to turn sports into a lucrative industry. From the vantage point of the mid-Twenties, the party was never going to end.
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