What needs to change?
My mother, born in 1904, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1993. We were fortunate that during the last six months of her life she willingly agreed to talk about the stories of her life and events of the last century while having a tape recorder turned on. From those tapes my daughter Cathy was able to produce a booklet depicting her remarkable personal viewpoint of that period. Mother’s name was Daisy and so we called it: Looking Back at Daisy’s Petals.
Now today, in 2008, there is a great deal of talk about our current economic state as the worst situation since the Depression of the 1930s. I believe that much of this talk is happening because of the prolonged campaign for the Presidency, which thankfully will be over when this piece is being read. Politicians seem to think that the best way to gather votes is to call for change by saying that all things are terrible, as they presently are, whether they are or not.
There is no doubt that some people are in financial straits. Jobs have been lost, winter is coming. Yet, I cannot accept that we, as a nation, are approaching a Depression anywhere near that of the 1930s.
Watching the “play-offs” for the World Series on television, for example, we can see 50,000 to 80,000 people sitting in the stands while young men play a game. Roughly figuring, each seat conservatively represents an expenditure of over $100 for the evening by each occupant which totals between $5 and $8 million, and that was only one game of many.
Compare that to one small story, reprinted below by permission, from Looking Back at Daisy’s Petals, entitled, Twenty-five cents for the Circus.
TWENTY-FIVE CENTS FOR THE CIRCUS
"The Depression was a difficult time for us, although I think many others were far worse off. Marion was working for the Flintkote Company in East Rutherford in the Research Department. One day in 1933, he came home with a very long face. He had been given notice that they were going to have to let him go. We were terribly upset and not sure at all what we would do next. Well, he talked with several of the men he knew in the other departments and asked them if there was something or some job they wanted done which he could do. I guess it pays to ask, for one of the men said, 'yes, he could use his help.' So, the next week Marion went right back to work for the same company. His pay was reduced, however I think it was still a lucky thing to have a job. I believe we got about three thousand dollars a year and I'm told that was pretty good for the times, even though we were a family of five.
Money had to be stretched to make ends meet. It was a sad time when occasionally we had to say 'no'. One day along in there, perhaps it was when Bill was so sick and we had very high medical bills, our friends, the Chaffees, asked me if Paul could go with them to the circus in New York. He would need to bring 25 cents and I remember thinking hard about it. I was embarrassed, but I had to say he could not go. There were places where the money had to be spent. It was probably part of that feeling from years ago in Iowa that if there was not enough money to do something, you simply did not do it. 1 guess that is the way I have lived and thought my whole life."
Even though all things are relative, that truly was a Depression. As an adult, I don’t remember the specifics of those times, but I certainly evolved from that upbringing with the ability to look clearly at the economic situation of today. Change is necessary, I agree; however, I would say that what needs to change is the expectation of so many people that our government holds all the answers to their problems. It does not.
The next four years will indeed be interesting.
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