World Depression 2: This Time, it’s Personal.

The world is in a depression.

No, it’s not a recession, except in the inane, technical sense that, say, the Vietnam War was a “police action”. And anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is, at best, comically wrong.

We have an exceedingly high measured unemployment rate despite years of attrition to the workforce leading people to simply give up on trying to get jobs, and very many of those in the workforce currently have jobs paying less than they did before, or need to work two jobs, just to make ends meet.

We didn’t even collapse into this depression from a “Boom” or “Economic Expansion” or whatever the news would have you call it.  Our economy has limped from one near-recession to the next for getting close to a decade before it all fell down – oh, but during those years, well, if you were rich and invested you could make lots of money, so people pretended like the economy wasn’t in any trouble, when in fact quite the opposite was going on. The only “Boom” we’ve had over the past few years has been a boom of self-deception.

Homebuyers deceived themselves into believing that lenders could be blindly trusted. Bankers and investors deceived themselves into believing they could get a free lunch. Consumers deceived themselves into thinking that they could keep up their debtor’s living forever. Americans as a whole deceived themselves into thinking our culture and economy was healthy and even thriving – plus, we thought it was a good idea to elect Bush, twice!

We need to get over lying to ourselves, and lying to each other. We’re in a god-damned Great Depression: Great Depression Two.

No, wait, better idea. We’re in World Depression Two. WWI used to be called “The Great War”. Well, we used to only have one Great Depression – now we have two. So we should take a page from our own history books and retcon the Great Depression into “World Depression One”, while what we’re in now becomes “World Depression Two”.

It should work out well to our advantage – WWI, followed by WWII, presents a simple series with a logical next step: World War Three. It’s a terminology that helped, no doubt along with many facets of the cold war, to bring the understanding of the possibility of another global military conflict within our grasp. We couldn’t lie to ourselves when the prospect of another World War is as easy to understand as counting to three.

Similarly, we can benefit from calling this spade what it is (preferably before we start digging our next hole with it, please). World Depression One could have been a unique event – but now it’s happened twice. We should do our part to ensure that the peoples of Earth can never forget this fact. We need to warn ourselves (because we’re stupid and we forget hella fast) and future generations that this shit can all happen again. We need to make it as easy as counting to three.

Would World Depression Three be the same as WDII? Of course not.  WWI and WWII were each quite different (and in fact, one of the reasons we were blindsided with WDII was our naive assumption that it would be the same as WDI, leading us all to sit pretty in our 80-year-old, neglect-decayed Maginot Line of protections convincing ourselves it could never happen again).

We need to start thinking about what WDIII could be. We need to get paranoid about it. We need to make the understanding of our global interreliance on each other, to the point where greed and carelessness on the part of one of us can spill over to affect all of us, we need to make this understanding ubiquitous to the human condition. We need to start making stirring personal stories about how people’s lives are getting jacked up by WDII that get turned into award-winning movies (preferably before computers drive the industry bankrupt). I’d make a call for movies about post-apocalyptic WDIII aftermaths too, but Mad Max was made some time back, that market’s clearly been there for a while.

Anyway, we should all do our part to stop lying to ourselves and to each other.

We’re in a depression. Don’t let people tell you otherwise.

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