Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Seems Like Old Times

The German American Bund, 1930s

Communist rally in Union Square, New York City, 1930s.

If I seem a little indifferent lately to the growing crises about to fall in on us, it's because I'm at a loss as to what to do. Unemployment is up to 9.8% and is expected to top 10% soon. And that's the official unemployment rate that counts only people actively looking for work, and not those working part time or those who have given up or are now in the underground cash economy. When you factor all those folks in, the rate is more like 17%. Some economists are predicting that the official unemployment rate could go to 12%.

The mandarin class that governs us all seems blithely indifferent to the employment situation. Their statistical models all indicate that the economy is recovering. They may have read statistical models, but apparently they have not read much history. An unemployment rate sustained in the double digits is a recipe for disaster. It is an engraved invitation to high crime, social unrest, and even (he whispers darkly) revolution.
The reason Western Europe created all of their welfare states after WWII was not because they were decadent pansy liberals, but because they lived through what catastrophic economic collapse could do to nation states. We had a taste of it here in the USA. Anyone remember all the demagogues and local tyrants who enjoyed a golden age in the 1930s? Anyone remember Fr. Coughlin, Huey Long, Ed Crump, Boss Pendergast, Frank Ball, etc.? Anyone remember that the Klan flourished in this period and staged a huge rally in Washington DC to show their strength? Anyone remember that the American Communist Party was at its peak, and could pack Union Square and Tompkins Square in New York for May Day? If you don't remember, then you may be about to relive it all tomorrow. There are plenty of aspiring Fr. Coughlins and Huey Longs out there, probably smarter and more ruthless than the originals. There is plenty of deepening anger and alienation out there for them to exploit.

I think our political system is completely dysfunctional and paralyzed with corruption, legal and illegal. It looks like we might get a health insurance reform bill effectively written by the insurance industry. There are so many looming disasters out there, and we seem helpless to do anything to avert them, or even to mitigate their effects. God forbid we should affect anyone's profit margin to prevent a rise is sea levels.


ueber-g said...

Wonderful post. One thing that you should do: make sure that your passport is always up to date.

toujoursdan said...

The problem is where would you go?

Most other advanced countries make it almost impossible to immigrate, particularly if you are over 35-40 years of age and aren't in a high demand profession. Even if you are eligible, it's a multi-year process and most demand that you go through the process in your home country.

I can go back to Canada, but Canada is awfully close to the U.S. and is nearly in the same situation. I looked at immigration to New Zealand (where I spent a few years) and barely make the pass-mark. Australia's requirements are even stricter. (I think Australia is in environmental trouble so question whether it's a good destination anyway.)

I would hate to consider becoming an illegal migrant at my age, but can foresee something like this happening, particular if there is an armed insurrection or coup in the U.S.