David B.




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February 12, 2009

How Bad Can It Get? Ask Rush Limbaugh


So, about this “recession”.


The quotation marks in the sentence above are used advisedly: The term “recession” is starting to seem far too weak, far too polite, to describe the wholesale economic carnage currently taking place not only in the United States, but around the world.


A “recession,” as recalled by most of us too young to have cashed our first Social Security check, is a detour through the economic doldrums, lasting a few months or a year or two; a period of time in which we might watch our mutual funds slide or stagnate, when our paychecks seem stubbornly stuck in the same puny range of figures even as prices rise, when we feel twitches of panic for our own livelihoods when we hear that Uncle Joe or Cousin Ted has been laid off and is now working at Kentucky Fried Chicken. “Recession” is a gloomy, stagnant, dour sounding word meant to describe gloomy economic times, but at least in the past, when a recession reared its ugly head there was seldom much doubt that this too would pass, and that before you knew it we’d all be lining up at Best Buy for color TVs again.


“Recession” seems hardly adequate to describe the economic slaughter of the present moment, does it? As entire neighborhoods empty themselves of residents thanks to foreclosure, as the rate of job losses hurtles past the worst corollary rates of the early ‘30s, and as the announcement of a trillion-dollar effort to stem the red tide in the financial sector is greeted with a 300-point Dow downturn, “recession” just doesn’t seem up to the task. Nor, for that matter, does “depression,” although if you ask any economist not bought and paid for by the banking oligarchs, we are almost certainly in the midst of one.


“Implosion” would seem more apropos. “Implosion,” as in a dynamited skyscraper. “Implosion,” as in the sudden demise of a white dwarf star. “Implosion,” as in the utter collapse of the American consumer dream, now already in progress.


Just as the light of a long-dead imploded star still reaches us millennia after its demise, news of the depth of the consumer economy implosion of 2009 is yet to arrive. Our leaders and their cadres of “experts,” we are told, are hard at work not only in the United States but in the great financial capitals of the globe staving off doomsday. But for all their variously valiant and inglorious efforts, doomsday just may have arrived. Certainly, hints to that effect are beginning to be heard.


Consider, if you will, the words of one Paul Kanjorski, Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, uttered in a recent C-SPAN interview in the course of a discussion concerning the Bush Administration’s mad scramble for a bank bailout plan in the desperate days of mid-September: “I was there when the secretary and the chairman of the Federal Reserve came those days and talked to members of Congress about what was going on . . . On Thursday, at about 11 o'clock in the morning, the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous drawdown of money market accounts in the United States to a tune of $550 billion being drawn out in a matter of an hour or two. The Treasury opened up its window to help. They pumped $105 billion into the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide.


“We were having an electronic run on the banks. They decided to close the operation, close down the money accounts, and announce a guarantee of $250,000 per account so there wouldn't be further panic and there . . . If they had not done that their estimation was that by two o'clock that afternoon, $5.5 trillion would have been drawn out of the money market system of the United States, would have collapsed the entire economy of the United States, and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed. We talked at that time about what would have happened if that happened. It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it.”


That’s what almost happened. It happened before the Dow shed nearly a third of its value in October, before several weeks of consecutive multiple hundreds of thousands of job losses. And it is what happened before Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and the corrupt, craven Republican loyalists started marshaling their legions of ‘bots to call their congressmen and urge the defeat of the current stimulus plan – if not prior to its enaction into law, then through obstructionism in its implementation afterwards.


If doomsday has indeed arrived, you’ll know precisely who to thank.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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