It's amazing how language can change one's perception of an event. This year we have gone from "a slowdown in the economy" to "a credit crunch" to "a global financial crisis".
It's just been bad news all the way in my life. I could have told you two years ago there was a slowdown when we had our house for sale. In six months we had only four viewers and two of them don't really count because they were just being nosy.
Remember a few months back when the really bad news was how expensive petrol/gas was? Don't you long for those good ole days? To gain an understanding of the events happening over the last couple of weeks, I've been reading about the Great Depression and its causes. I am no student of Economics and apart from listening to my parents' stories of how hard times were then and reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and Hard Times by Studs Terkel, I didn't know much about the causes of the Depression. I knew the stock market crashed in 1929 and before that it seemed to be party, party, party (ala The Great Gatsby). I knew there were bread lines and people out of work and starving children. I knew Franklin D. Roosevelt created the New Deal to get people back into work (my grandparents among them) and built numerous Public Works projects as a result. I knew WWII had something to do with pulling the US out of the Depression.
I didn't understand that trade restrictions, deflation, and sharply increased taxes worked together to create the perfect economic storm resulting in Depression. There are several websites out there that clearly explain what happened.
I also thought I should be more informed about Roosevelt's presidency. He is generally accepted as the greatest US President in the 20th century. But he had to be, considering what a mess Hoover had left the country in. As I look forward to the 2008 Presidential election, I wonder which man will be able to fill Roosevelt's shoes because that is what the next president must do. Will it be the impetuous, flighty, maverick McCain with the beehived Palin ("you betcha!") standing behind him? Will it be the overly intellectual Obama whose so-called terrorist links seem to frighten ignorant Americans and whose running mate has his own issues?
I think as important as who is President is who he surrounds himself with. Roosevelt had some of the greatest people of his day behind him. Harold Ickes, Frances Perkins, Henry Morgenthau. Read about these people. They were truly innovators. I think Roosevelt's best quality must have been his ability to listen and to act on what he heard. I wish he hadn't created the Japanese internment camps during WWII though.
I made my mind up to support Obama over a year ago. Nothing has changed my mind since then. Should he win (and I think this will be a very close race to the bitter end), he will have to be very careful about who he surrounds himself with. Hard times call for the best and the brightest, but also the calmest. Roosevelt's fireside chats did as much to stimulate the economy by reassuring Americans as any of his economic policies. Never underestimate the power of confidence.
But if McCain should win, well, Tina Fey will have a job for a long time. Visit www.nbc.com and view her take on Palin. Funny but scary in its accuracy.