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View Full Version : Economic Recovery? No Thank You



Rajiv
04-19-09, 03:02 AM
"Economic Recovery? No Thank You (http://carolynbaker.net/site/content/view/1066/1/)" by Carolyn Baker


Some economists and a president declare that there's a glimmer of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel, and that sometime in 2010, we'll begin to see a return to normal. The stock market bounces up and down, and pundits opine that the worst is behind us. The market has remained in the 7 or 8 thousands for a couple of weeks, so perhaps they're onto something. Maybe it was all a bad dream, and the worst recession in the history of the United States is waning, and the Second Great Depression that I and so many other astute observers were forecasting will never actually manifest.

What if it's true; what if this isn't, as Richard Heinberg says, "a recession that never ends"? Do I enjoy seeing throngs of homeless people gather in tent cities, live out of their cars, or simply roam the streets and back alleys of America in search of whatever crumbs of sustenance they can obtain? Do I take some sick pleasure in skyrocketing unemployment rates or burgeoning bankruptcy filings? What if, once again, empire triumphs over adversity and reclaims the level of prosperity its citizens enjoyed in the nineties? What if the likes of Nouriel Roubini (http://www.rgemonitor.com/blog/roubini/), Gerald Celente (http://www.trendsresearch.com/), and Peter Schiff (http://www.europac.net/) are proven to be paranoid nut jobs who really need to be on antidepressants? How much egg will I end up having on my face, and will that actually confirm that Peak Oil and climate change are bogus theories that have nothing to do with economic well being?

I give little thought these days to whether I am "right" or "wrong." I stopped playing King on the Mountain in the sixth grade. I don't even like board and card games; they're too competitive for me. My resistance to the prognostication of Pollyanna economists isn't about their winning and my losing. Rather, something more fundamental - yes, cellular, occurs in my anatomy when I hear that the last two years of economic agony was merely a blip on the radar screen of the capitalist business cycle - yet another momentary whack from Adam Smith's "invisible hand".

I cringe when I hear the words "back to normal" because of what that means to me. "Normal" means hordes of Walmart shoppers stuffing cars and SUV's full of plastics from China and driving off to their suburban homes to devour or display them until the current fix wears off and their shallow, meaningless lifestyles demand yet another "mall injection". Normal means homeowners wearing several tons of house on their backs as they travel by car to jobs they despise to maintain mortgage, taxes, insurance, and upkeep. Normal means total oblivion to the polar bear whose heart exploded during the last half-mile of his frantic swim in search of any tiny chunk of ice on which he could rest in order to regain his strength and continue his quest for food. Normal means infinite patches of sickened brown trees devastated by the mountain pine beetle in an otherwise green Colorado forest. Normal means NASCAR and another nuclear power plant coming online and oceanic dead zones the size of countries. Did you hear? We're going back to normal-to parents working 80 hours a week while their kids become junkies, bulimic, or pregnant. Normal means slamming down more McDonalds Happy Meals chased with Red Bull and Prozac. Normal means that I have nothing to do with nature, and it has nothing to do with me, and furthermore, if I have anything to do with it, I'll do with it whatever the hell I like. Normal means that my reason for being is to consume, stuff my face, watch reality TV, obsess over celebrity gossip, chatter around the water cooler about pirates and tea parties, and grab a couple of hours of Ambien-induced sleep at the end of the day if I'm lucky.

Yes, something happened on the way to the Second Great Depression that I've grown fond of. A host of books and documentaries proliferated across the world informing earthlings of their plight, and millions of them chose to awaken rather than continuing to muddle through their so-called consumer-intoxicated lives. Even in the still-good times of 2005-2006, a project called Transition Towns (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transition_Towns) was born in the heart of a young man from Kinsale, Ireland which spread to Totnes in England and then virally around the world. Blindsided by skyrocketing oil and food prices, unemployment, bankruptcies, foreclosures, and loss of healthcare, masses of middle and working class people stopped spending money, moved in with each other, discovered in the new segments of free time that opened to them new hobbies, vocations, friends, and pastimes. Others began growing gardens in their front yards and were willing to go to extraordinary lengths to raise chickens in their back yards. Yes, there were increased suicides and inexplicable outbursts of violence. Addicts and alcoholics drank and used more, and meth labs mushroomed across the heartland along with more individuals using food stamps than ever in the nation's history. Homelessness increased, leaving blight and boarded houses in its wake. Animals were abandoned, abused, and left to starve, and humans in droves postponed healthcare and surgeries they desperately needed to attend to.
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