Monday, December 12, 2022

"Let's all pretend we couldn't see it coming" (The US Working-Class Depression) by Dahn Shaulis

How is the working-class Depression of 2020 similar to the other 47 financial downturns in US history? 

Downturns are frequently precipitated by poor economic and cultural practices and preceded by lots of signals: over-speculation, overuse of resources, oversupplies of goods, and exploitation of labor. What I see are many poor practices brought on by corruption--with overconsumption, climate change, growing inequality, and moral degeneration at the root.

The "disrupters" (21st century robber barons) have enabled an alienating and anomic system that is highly dysfunctional for most of the planet, using "algorithms of oppression." And this cannot be solved with data alchemy, marketing, and other forms of sophistry.

Put down your iPhone for a minute and ponder these rhetorical questions:

Warm Koolaid (2016) signified corporate America's use of myths and distractions to sedate the masses. 

    How long have we known about all of this dysfunction? Academics have known about the effects of global climate change and growing US inequality since at least the 1980s. The Panic of 2020 should be a lesson so that we don't have a larger economic, social and environmental collapse in the future.

    Who will hear the warnings and do something constructive for our future? Or is this Covid crisis another opportunity for the rich to cash in on the tragedy?

    The answer lies, in part, to an ignorance of history and science, and oversupply of low-grade information, poor critical thinking skills, and lots of distractions. That's in addition to the massive greed and ill will by the rich and powerful.

    US downturns are baked into this oppressive system. And crises are used to further exploit working families. With climate change and a half century of increasing inequality, these situations are likely to worsen.

    Workers will resist and fight oppression; they always do, but will they have a voice as the US faces another self-induced crisis, as trillions are doled out to those who already have trillions?

    Here are the dates of the largest economic downturns.
    1873–1879 (The Long Depression)
    1893–1896 (The Long Depression)
    1918–1921 (World War I, Spanish Flu, Panic of 1920-21)
    1929–1933 (Stock Market Crash, Great Depression)
    1937–1938 (Great Depression)
    Feb-Oct 1945
    Nov 1948–Oct 1949
    July 1953–May 1954
    Aug 1957–April 1958
    April 1960–Feb 1961
    Dec 1969–Nov 1970
    Nov. 1973– March 1975
    Jan-July 1980
    July 1981–Nov 1982
    July 1990–March 1991
    Mar-Nov 2001
    December 2007 – June 2009 (The Great Recession)
    March 2020-

    We live in an economic system that is unsustainable, unjust, and exploitative. While many of us in academia and the thought industry have known this for decades, those with greater wisdom have known for centuries. Techies and disrupters think it can all be solved with technology, not with profound wisdom. The ultimate in hubris and reductionism. We have to change the system politically, socially, and culturally. We have to be wiser.

    How do we do that, radically change society, when our economic system has driven us in the wrong direction for so long? Some of these lessons can be learned from working-class history, but they have to be applied with wisdom.

    This essay, written by Dahn Shaulis, was originally posted on Higher Education Inquirer.


    1. Richard, thanks for reposting. Sadly, the working classes are facing the same reality in 2023 as the FED desperately tries to make corrections--after many years (and many trillions) of handouts to the super-rich. Like we couldn't see it coming, again.

    2. When people start saying "a penny saved is a penny earned" again, instead of "go to college and pursue a career that you love, regardless of the debt!"

    3. How on earth are we ever going to change anything? We aren't. Both political parties are completely controlled by billionaires. Every single propaganda {aka news} outlet is controlled by billionaires. Which is why all we ever hear about is dumb culture war BS. I could not possibly hate this worthless country any more than I already do.

    4. The plight of our country's working-class and lower-income people is depressing. One thing we can do to help exploited families is to warn them against taking out student loans in a vague attempt to improve their status. The nation's colleges are encouraging unsophisticated students to take out loans for degree programs that college administrators know won't lead to good jobs.