The Soup Lines of the 21st Century

The markets plummeted yesterday in the worst single day slump since 2008. All the while, the President continues to blame everyone and everything but his own ideas. It must be hard for the mainstream media; after all, they must be running out of ways to excuse away his policy failures. I suppose after two “recovery” summers during which “recovery” was blatantly absent, a few rounds of stimulus, quantitative easing (Bernanke-speak for printing more money), and speech after speech about how it’s all the rich’s fault, one starts to yearn for a few cold, hard, facts. The economy is sick. No, not sick- it’s dying. Sadly there are still quite a few people who look around and claim that they see no overt signs of economic crisis. People think back to the days of the Great Depression, and say “now THERE was a dying economy. The black and white pictures of soup lines, of ragged homeless families, of hundreds of men waiting frantically outside a shipyard hoping to be the one picked for a few hours of work; we’re nowhere NEAR those days.” Then they look around at today’s America, and virtually everyone has a car, a roof over their heads, and there simply aren’t lines of hundreds of people wrapped around a building waiting for a free bowl of soup.  I contend that while we can’t see it as easily, those ominous black and white photos are still lurking in the shadows of the behemoth otherwise known as the Government Dole.

So, we’re not technically in a depression, right? But yet we have 80 million people on some form of government assistance. It’s a sick cycle: the government has spent years meddling in the economy the economy reacts poorly (just like yesterday’s blatant example!) and more and more people find themselves unable to make ends meet, so they get “in line” for government assistance. Sure, there’s abuse in the system, without a doubt. After all, government has also spent years making it easier, and more profitable than ever to sit around and collect unemployment, request Section 8 vouchers, food stamps, etc.,  than it is to get a job. I could shock you with some of the brazen scams on the system. Don’t get me wrong. I know there are plenty of people who genuinely need help, and rely on assistance for a short while to get back on their feet. That’s a study for another day, however.

The scary thing is this: the assistance people are getting in line for during these hard times isn’t truly ours to hand out! Approximately 40% of every dollar is borrowed! So here the U.S. sits, handing out the “soup” in the government “soup line;” meanwhile, the U.S. continues to spend blindly with one hand and reach across the ocean with the other for a handout of its own. Yes, the U.S.’s incessant and insatiable borrowing from foreign nations is indeed a “soup line” for the federal government.

Our unemployment numbers might not be as bad as during the Great Depression (though the “real” unemployment number, which hovers around 17% when discouraged workers are part of the count, certainly isn’t encouraging).  Our stock markets may not be as bad off as they were on and after Black Tuesday. I contend, however, that at the heart of things, we are far worse off overall. We are living on a borrowed economy. As a nation, we are no longer economically independent. It’s impossible to be, when nearly half of every dollar we have is borrowed; when debt has reached the levels of our TOTAL GDP.

Next time you think some “nutty conservative” is going a little too far with “the-sky-is-falling” warnings about the economy, and you comfort yourself with the thought that we’re nowhere near the Great Depression, just remember the soup lines of the 21st century. They’re here; maybe not in the same fashion, but here nonetheless. And they paint a far more ominous picture than the Depression ever could.

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