The Externalized Costs of the “Great Recession”

I am haunted by this story, “Suicide Rates Increased in Europe and the US during the Great Recession.” In the other recessions that have occurred during my adulthood, the upper reaches of the economic spectrum recovered their losses within two years. Primarily, this effect occurred because the 1% have the ability to redeploy assets at the blink of an eye.

Working families generally do not have this luxury. Their assets are illiquid. Generally, young families who purchase homes burden their budget significantly for the privilege of making payments to a bank rather than a landlord. Nowadays, with interest rates on savings accounts as close to 0% as possible, rational families sock money into their 401Ks and IRAs.

Of course, this is expensive. But the gains far outweigh the inconvenience they suffer. Ever notice that when the stock market tanks, that construction begins to boom shortly thereafter? You suddenly see cranes dotting the skyline in all directions. These construction projects are run by and for corporations, not for people.

Since 2008, things have been different from other recessions. A year later, a found myself at a gas station in Bakersfield on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Normally, the Interstates and highways hummed with bumper-tp-bumper traffic both north and south on the holiday weekend, but not that day. The streets were empty. The town was desolate. No one at the gas station but me and the clerk. I said, “Has it been like this for a while?” He looked at me for a moment. Then he slowly nodded his head. “It’s been so slow,” he said. I replied, “Scary, huh?” He said, “Yes.” I wished him good luck through the coming storm.

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