Is the sky really falling?
That earlier event in October 1929 came a few months after the photo at left was taken a couple of weeks before an auto accident put that 4-year-old kid in the hospital for 30 days. So when everyone was talking about the Wall Street Crash I thought they meant one on the highway. Was poor Wall Street going to have to spend a month in bed?
My dad, the eternal optimist, kept saying, "It won't affect us." Eight months or so later he was out of a job. Three months after that my mother was out of a job. Another few months and we were living in a Model-T Ford with a canvas top and no side curtains. And it was winter in the Midwest.
Yes, the Great Depression was rough, yet all but the weakest survived. People came out of it stronger and with a better sense of values. When it began, however, those same people were much like those you'll find today. Not quite as self-indulgent because there were no credit cards, no ATM machines, but a plethora of stores with "easy credit" signs in the window. A few years later the signs were still there but credit had become a dirty word.
I'm no economist but as I understand it we won't merely be bailing out Wall Street, that place where people make money without actually working for it, but also the institutions that give credit. Today's economy is based on people borrowing money so they can buy stuff from merchants who borrowed money to buy stock. We borrow huge sums to buy houses while full aware we can't afford the payments, the taxes or the upkeep. We are paid by employers who borrow money to meet a payroll.
So we're living in a house of cards. Sooner or later houses like that come tumbling down. One economist says it will be 2015 before things return to normal. By then people may have wised up the way they did in the 1930s when you bought something only when you had money in your pocket to pay for it.
If the sky really does fall, the country and the world may be better off for it. If it doesn't fall it will merely postpone the day when that house of cards collapses.