Surviving the Economic Depression / You Can't Go Home Again, #4



You still hear from people (the majority?) who think a vaccine will come. This Corona virus will end. And life will be normal.


But you can’t go home again. We’re headed into a economic depression. A few facts: The drop in the economy, last quarter, was the sharpest in American history. 1/3 of the restaurants are closed for good. Hotels follow. 45 million people are out of work and half won’t ever get their jobs back. The total deficit from beginning the birth of the United States to 1950 was 257 Billion dollars. In just the month of June this year we added 864 billion more in Federal debt.


Don’t believe the government unemployment statistics in the media. Monthly different statistical models are compiled. The U (Unemployment) 3 statistics are used by the media and they’re fraudulent. People who have given up on looking for employment are counted as well as other long-term unemployed. A fired airline pilot working in fast food is considered employed.  You can Google the U6 statistics. But even those aren’t comprehensive.


Most people have debt, no savings, and have already exhausted their lines of credit. Ready for tent Metropolises? The highest number of people under 30 are living with their parents since the 30’s.


The 3 trillion in bailout money went to the top and to prop up the stock market. Since 1973 productivity has risen 77%. In that period wages have risen 12%. If minimum wage were tied to economic growth it would be over $20 hour today!


And there are at least 6 mutated viruses now. There will be no save-everybody vaccine. As with the related flu virus new vaccines will need to be constituted every year.


Everything is not so grim.  But it will be different and require creativity and community for people to live well. Long ago I talked to an elderly woman who had lived through the great depression in New York as a young girl. “It was great,” she told me.


She explained every night her family would go down to the soup kitchen in the street. There the adults would sit  at long tables visiting with each other; the kids, in big bands, would play in the street. “It was one of the best times of my life”, she remembered.


So this memo is about what to do. And to ask you for suggestions.  For in this coming high tech, artificial Intelligence depression era there are no precedents.


One thing I know is that the survivalists have it wrong. In crises people band together, they don’t play soldier with automatic weapons. Food and health are the top two concerns ~ not shooting your neighbors. In catastrophes you need a community to share food when some have extra. And people with nursing skills who can prevent small injuries and minor sickness from becoming life threatening. The first rule is build a community with people of different skills who can rely on each other.


The second rule is to save every bit of cash possible. In an economic crisis cash is king. The bank can squeeze your credit card limits in the wink of an eye.  If you think the economic crisis will be long-term, buy “junk silver coins” ~ 1964 or before. In 1965, by law, Congress changed the silver content of coins so they have no intrinsic value. For instance, a quarter from 1964 or before is 90% silver and will always have barter value according to its weight.


Lately, I’ve read a lot about jobs and artificial intelligence. Most middle management jobs and accounting will be handled automatically by computer. Drivers make up 10% of our work force. Self-driving vehicles will make those jobs as needed wheel repair for horse drawn carriages. Ditto for fast food servers and cooks in restaurants. And cashiers? You likely already use self check-out. We’re in transition to an economy where most people have no employable skills. So why build college debt for jobs that won’t be there?


Skills that can’t be automated will always have value. Think plumbers and electricians. Or maybe start a mobile service that digs up people’s lawns and helps them start gardens?


The owning class doesn’t really want workers who get tired, make mistakes, grumble, sometimes strike and in general are less reliable than machines that function 24 hours without complaint. They have no incentive to rehire the millions of fired and furloughed.


It’s said, common sense is the sense that is not so common. So it’s time for people to brainstorm. What skills will be needed in the future? Where should people be looking to live? What kind of co-ops make sense?


Outside of my simple suggestion ~ everyone should learn basic gardening. Please add your suggestions of what people should do to flourish in the coming depression.


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Jeffrey Nightbyrd Shero © 2020

Jeffrey was the original editor and publisher of the Austin Sun. He also created The Rat, America's first underground newspaper in New York City and was an editor of the Rag in Austin. He currently lives in Austin and has a talent agency, Acclaim Talent.

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