• The Depression of 2011

    by David Lacy

    History has repeated itself.

    I tip-toe through the throngs of makeshift encampments, cautious not to
    trip on young mothers cradling their cold infants to their breasts.
    Thousands of men and women are shawled in jackets and cheap wool, staring
    blankly into what seems an interminable, unknown future. Fatigue has set
    in for most, resignation for a few. The night has draped the world in

    We have hit the second depression, I suddenly think to myself, the one our
    grandparents told us about in their gravelly voices that gently trailed
    off as their minds receded back into time.

    Some are making the best of this new “Hooverville.” A father and son have
    a deck of cards splayed out in front of them. The boy laughs with impish
    delight as he beats his old man at a particularly difficult hand. Some are
    still able to smile in this new economic world. I grin at the boy – more
    as a sign of solidarity than genuine hope — and keep walking. The boy
    doesn’t realize that it’s darkest before the dawn, I think.

    There are propane stoves, heating food spooned from tin cans gleaning in
    the streetlights. In this 21st century depression many young people are
    wearing iconic iPod white-bud ear-phones. The hardened faces of the
    suburban teens bob slowly to the beats of inner-city poets who have rapped
    about the financial pains these children are for the first time actually
    experiencing. The cold. The uncertainty. The bleached-haired white kid can
    finally relate to the ghetto life he had for so long emulated from the
    safety of suburbia.

    Occasionally a fight breaks out. One encampment periodically leap-frogs
    another encampment in the “aide” line and the crowd puts the offender “in
    his place” with vociferous shouts and shoves. They are reminded by the
    masses that there are still rules in this new America. There is still

    Our humanity has not yet dimmed entirely from our eyes.

    Suddenly, from near the start of the row of tents there’s a commotion. The
    lighting shifts inexplicably and people begin to jostle and shove into new
    positioning. A man’s voice calls out and immediately the sanity has ended.

    There is a breaking point in all men, and I begin to believe I am about to
    witness the breaking point of thousands of my fellow earth travellers. I’d
    read “Grapes of Wrath” in high school and I begin scanning around
    fervently for a Tom Joad, a fighter for the people, a vigilante for the
    lost, who would jump in and save us all. He did say he’d be here “wherever
    …” and “something, something, something.” I can’t quite recall.

    Forcefully, like cattle, the line jolts forward. I nearly lose my balance
    in the adjustment. For the first time I can clearly see what’s happening
    at the beginning of the encampment line.

    “They’re raiding the store,” I whisper, astonished. We’ve hit the bottom.

    Security attempts to keep the masses in check. We live in a police state
    now. Anyone who has seen the videos from Davis, Oakland, Berkeley,
    Portland, and New York are well aware of this.

    But the people don’t care anymore. Men in uniform can’t scare a unified
    public. A unified public scares men in uniform. In solidarity – and in an
    act of stingingly rebellious defiance at a capitalistic system that has
    oppressed them for so long — the angry mob slams past the officer and
    slingshots (using the backs of their fellow man for propulsion) their
    bodies into the store.

    Moments later I notice the looting has officially begun. One man runs out
    with a 42-inch LED television stretched between his arms. A mother cradles
    an Xbox like a football and returns to her car (they have cars! I think
    amazed) before the parking lot becomes a traffic jam. As time passes, more
    and more hardened campers stream out of the store, carrying their bounty,
    and taking down their tents.

    But instead of excitement at bucking the system, most reveal expressions
    of anger. Anxiety. Frustration. Fatigue. Horns begin honking. Fingers
    begin pointing.

    And it’s then that I realize no one is looting anything. The man with the
    42-inch television is also clinging to a crisp paper receipt. The Xbox mom
    has her proof-of-sale as well.

    And instead of stopping the “occupied” campers, the security guards laugh
    and smile good-naturedly, pat the people on their backs, and point them to
    the nearest cash registers.

    It’s not black Friday, I think to myself. It’s green Friday.

    • Except when it is Air Jordan. $180 for a pair of tennis shoes. Come on people. Right on David. You had me fooled for a minute.Depression is around unless you want something then you put it on a credit card, pay off the minimum for 20 years and die with debt but you got what you “had to have” because who SAYS SO. Society and that is most prevalent thinking today. It works for everything we think we need but can’t pay for or just don’t feel we want to because of a growing sense of entitlement. Very sad to me. I wasn’t raised this way. I will go out owing nothing to anyone. My kids and grandchildren will reap the benefits of my living within my means.

    • “For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.”
      I didn’t write this, but I wish I had. I wish I had written this column of yours as well.

      • Bruce Wayne

      • January 27, 2012 at 8:36 pm
      • Reply

      America is booming because of the credit idea. So why not have it now and pay it later mentality. When we ALL stop doing this then depression occurs. Many are forgetting that spending creates revenue then jobs. I see many buying multiple items of the same thing just because they think they need it. This might be considered wasteful but in the end people with the extra green backs need to spend. We need people with money to spend and not lock it up. This is why the national debt is so high but America is still moving forward. This is just the main jist but everyone needs to spend and if black friday helps motivate then be it.

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