Riddle Me This

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SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 10 2008
Posts: 1499
Riddle Me This

Maybe it's the late hour that has me thinking such strange thoughts (it's after midnight Pacific Time as I type this).

Throughout these forums and in other sites there is much fear and gnashing of teeth that the current financial crisis will see this country devolve into upheaval, severe deflation or severe inflation (take your pick), populations clashing with each other, cities and suburbs turning into empty shells, etc., etc.

But - when I look at recent history - Iceland, Japan, Sweden, Argentina, Russia, et al, I don't see societies that have come apart at the seams. They seemed to have coped with their problems and civilization essentially continued as we know it.

Japan has had its lost decade and still has problems but it continues to function much as it always has. People still go to work, eat out, buy things, and so on.

Iceland's population brought down its government, its banks are toast, yet day-to-day life seems to continue. A new government was elected and life goes on.

Is it because the above mentioned countries have fairly homogeneous populations that prevented collapse because they felt that they were "all in it together"? Are the US and the UK doomed to collapse because both countries are filled with immigrant populations and, perhaps, have minimum cohesion?

Or is a lot of the current gloom and doom such that we need to remember Roosevelt's statement, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Look back at the Great Depression - this country went through rough times but it didn't devolve into total anarchy. I expect some folks took serious measures and battened down the hatches and loaded up with guns, gold, and food. But most people continued to go to work and life went on - such as it was. Remember, although unemployment was 25%, that meant 75% of the population was still working!

So - my question is this: Why should this time be so different - or will it?

[Caveat - let's not get into running out of oil - that won't happen for a few years at least and thus it's a whole different discussion. I'm talking about what's happening right now and what will happen in the next 1 to 2 years.]

SkylightMT's picture
SkylightMT
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 30 2008
Posts: 125
Re: Riddle Me This

I think things might be a little different this time around, particularly in the inner cities, which seem to be more prone to rioting than they were in the 30's.

Part of this is having a more compact, and larger population.

Another component is that our values and work ethics seem to have changed a bit. I hate to stereotype and generalize, but I'm going to do so anyway for a minute. My parents, who would be in their 80's now if they were still alive, rolled through many recessions with frugality, working harder, accepting undesirable jobs until things got better. When things got bad, their mindset didn't even allow them to wonder who's at fault and who can we blame. No one had medical insurance back when they were of working age, unless they worked for a very white collar agency, and no one really thought health benefits were something they were entitled to. Their focus was simply on how to get through the hard times. I think things are different now. We have more of an entitlement mentality and aren't used to the idea of saving up to make a big purchase (or any purchase).

I think the potential for increased crime rates is greater now than it was in the 30's. But I don't think we're going to be living in a Mad Max movie, and I think, as you mentioned, for 75% of us, life will go on more or less normally, with maybe a little more thought given to keeping safe. I also think humans are nothing if not pretty darn adaptable, and we'll survive this just fine. Its a wonderful opportunity to build an even better society. 

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pleaseremoveme
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Joined: Jan 24 2009
Posts: 115
Re: Riddle Me This

When the Great Depression hit Germany, and created a lot of unemployment, the people started to vote for the nazis, finally giving Hilter all the power, who then used it to start the second world war and the holocaust in particular. So sometimes economic crises end in a horrible way.

SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 10 2008
Posts: 1499
Re: Riddle Me This
woupiestek wrote:

When the Great Depression hit Germany, and created a lot of unemployment, the people started to vote for the nazis, finally giving Hilter all the power, who then used it to start the second world war and the holocaust in particular. So sometimes economic crises end in a horrible way.

woupiestek,

In times of crisis, people in general will look to someone, anyone, who will promise them a way out so that they don't have to deal with it themselves. More often than not they wind up with dictators, as you so aptly point out. Once in a blue moon, if they are extremely lucky, a decent leader will step to the fore to "lead them out of the wilderness".

Much of what is being discussed in these many forums is teaching/learning to help us find our own way so that we are not dependent upon others.

As the old, but still true, saying goes, "Knowledge is Power!"

SamLinder's picture
SamLinder
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 10 2008
Posts: 1499
Re: Riddle Me This

SkylightMT,

I think things might be a little different this time around,
particularly in the inner cities, which seem to be more prone to
rioting than they were in the 30's.

<snip>

I think things are different now. We have more of an entitlement mentality... 

I'm inclined to agree. Programs to help the down-and-out can be wonderful things. It is the decent thing to do when you reach out a hand to help someone who is temporarily down on their luck.

Unfortunately, during my lifetime, I have seen temporary support turn into a multi-generation welfare system creating the ongoing entitlement mentality that you mention. When the money runs out and this support system gets rudely yanked away, we are going to see that portion of the population come unglued because they won't know what else to do. As I saw someone say in one of the many video's I've watched lately, "When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose!"

Hopefully, our "thin blue line" will be able to contain the worst of the damage 'cause our National Guard troops will all still be in Iraq or Afghanistan!

 

I also think humans are nothing if not pretty darn adaptable, and we'll
survive this just fine. Its a wonderful opportunity to build an even
better society.

Well said - let's all hope that a Phoenix will indeed rise out of the ashes yet to come.

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