History doesn’t repeat itself, but you can learn from it.
Back when I was in High School and college, one of the things they used to make us do was read books or sit through boring ass lectures and then later regurgitate that information into essay form to explain what we had read. At the time, I couldn’t wait to never have to do that again. It seems now, my friends, that notion was premature. My part-time gig is doing exactly that. I do research and then I write essays for websites in the form of “blogs.” Heavily laden with SEO keywords so that customers pop up on the first page of Google searches.
Today I’m going to dig deep in the brain to write about something that occurred to me on the drive in to work. And then the subsequent nattering of people already talking about coronavirus. Today’s discussion was what it was doing to the stock market. That reminded me of something I hadn’t thought of in a long time.
The Great Depression.
I talk a lot about generational differences and oftentimes I bitch about the Millennials and their entitlement, their need to diffuse every instant of their lives to each other constantly. Ironic, considering I’m a writer and this is what I do, but at least my spelling and grammar are decent. I used to think of the Millennials as spoiled perpetual children who are growing up in a time when technology is replacing humanity.
This is not to say that all people of that generation are entitled narcissists. No. I know quite a few of the citizens of this generation and they are probably better people than I.
But in light of recent events, they are about to be tested. Like the Greatest Generation a hundred years ago, there are many similarities happening. Well, parallels anyway. This perpetual war, pandemics, and now the stock market throwing on the brakes because of nationwide panic.
It reminded me of the Dust Bowl, when overworking farms with cotton depleted the land right at the cusp of a five year drought. The stock market had failed and all the farms that were mortgaged to the hilt to buy more land to grow more cotton, which was depleting the topsoil were now getting called in on their debts. A single tractor could do the work of an entire tenement farm family, so people pulled up stakes and moved to California. The wind picked up and turned fields into barren landscapes of dust. People choked to death in black blizzards. Within our nation’s borders we had refugees migrating for work, or just to live. Some states, like the oh-so-progressive California, turned people away at the border and many of them flat-out starved to death. It took getting into a world war and winning to drag us out of a Depression.
My own job is like a canary in a coal mine. The grand Academy. The University system which has over-inflated itself for the last thirty years, getting fat on Federal student loans, paying the once-humble professor six figure incomes and all sorts of perks to try to prolong the biggest Ponzi schemes to hit since Social Security. If you attend college and get a degree, you are employable. If you don’t, then you will die penniless and hungry. Well, all that is about to end. But, I don’t know what comes next in a post-academic society which has outsourced much of its GDP to China and Mexico, while importing people to work at poverty wages in jobs “Nobody else wants.”
Remember when that was called “Slavery?”
So, Millennials, this is your crucible, your trial by fire, because it’s only going to get worse until it gets better. Me and the rest of my Lost Generation will fade into relative obscurity, reminiscing about NES and card catalogs and grunge music and…
Anyway, good luck.