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The bright side of a glass; half empty
By Daryl L. Hunter (2004)
Updated on (1-1-2020) then angain on (1/4/2020).

Prologe; I wrote this in 2004; however it is more important now than it was then, sadly some things are timeless. In light of recent events it is time to re-publish.

For centuries the Chinese used an ancient curse: 'May you live in interesting times!' It isn't a curse any more. It's a blessing." Or is it!

Glass half full, glass half empty

More than a generation has elapsed since our country has experienced any “real” hard times. I believe this disassociation with adversity is allowing the priorities of, some of us, and our progeny to get out of whack. Adversity provides a variety of lessons as it facilitates perspective that culminates in wisdom. In the ordinary course of life, each one of us will glean meaning from our anecdotal experience which will shape our comprehension, insight, and judgment.

Today our fortunate but pampered progeny seem to have gotten their ducks all askew. Those that have never experienced national financial crises, out of innocent ignorance, do not fear what they are ignorant of. It has become more important to them to keep our oil in the ground than to keep our economy afloat and to be energy independent. It has become more important to coddle captured terrorists than to fight the ones remaining in the field. Many subscribe to the mentality that the world will like us more if they undermine the President Bush's ability too act decisively on our behalf. It has become more important to save an Oregonian suckerfish than to keep 1,200 Oregonian farmers producing food for us. Prosperity has generated an egocentric expectation for more prosperity with less effort put towards it. There seems to be a growing list of “work Americans won’t do. It has become more important to win an election than to win a war.

A visceral hate of corporations has evolved ignoring the reality that corporatons is where their or their parents retirements are invested. It has become a priority to cripple industry in the because industry might be responsible for global warming instead of the, more likely, natural cycle of the sun and cyclical changes of our earth’s volcanogenic organic halocarbons and pyroclasts. A growing trend in industry is something known as ”the Double Bottom Line”.  While all businesses have a conventional bottom line to measure their fiscal performance, a growing segment of industry is factoring a Double Bottom Line, a measure of performance in terms of positive social and environmental impact. This is a luxury for industry that will be jettisoned as soon as the first bottom line (economic viability) is in jeopardy. We need to keep industry prosperous so they can afford environmental mitigation such as the double bottom line and governmental mandates. When you cripple business (corporations) you cripple the economy, when you cripple the economy and you facilitate recession or depression.

The Great Depression

Lessons from the Great Depression (1929-1942) profoundly shaped the lives of our grandparent progenitors. Self-reliance, compassion, frugality, faith, a love of family, freedom and country are at the heart of the lessons they learned. Their memories were a collection of nostalgia and pain, accompanied by a wealth of lessons learned, their psyches’ scarred by fear of going broke again, yet strengthened by their achievement of survival. They learned that the world does not owe anyone a living, and that they were not entitled to implore or coerce anyone else to carry their burden, no matter how weighty and oppressive life became. Most discovered real survival is dependant upon self-determination and the shelf life for those who exercised their perceived entitlement, atrophied and some expired. At journey's end, the resiliency of these survivors is a testament to the indomitable strength of the American Spirit honed by hard times.

The Great Depression created a new mobile and hungry portion of the population that followed the harvests of America hopping trains to get from harvest to harvest. These depression era vagabonds called hoboes worked the seasonal harvests working fruit and vegetables harvests in California, the hay harvest of the Rocky Mountain States, corn and wheat harvests in the Mid-West, hops, berries and fruit harvests in the Pacific North-West, and some worked the cotton fields of Texas and the Southwest. In early spring they would hop a train for planting season. Farm labor, jobs Americans did! A life fine tuned by hardship adds a measure of perspective that has been cheated from those today who know only privilege.

anxious young man, uncertainity

The worst recession in the last 60 years was from November 1973 to March 1975, where real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) fell by 4.9 percent. Fresh out of high school this is where I got my first lesson in economic perspective.

The stagflation, (an inflationary period accompanied by rising unemployment and lack of growth in consumer demand and business activity) of the 1970’s followed by the Federal Reserve System’s contractionary monetary policy of July 1981 to end stagflation resulted in a recession resulting in a 3% drop in GDP was a good refresher course in reality that provided a lesson that a stable economy shouldn’t be taken for granted.

By comparison during the Depression unemployment was 25% and wages (for those who still had jobs) fell 42%. Total U.S. economic output fell from $103 billion to $55 billion and world trade plummeted 65% as measured in dollars. My lessons of recession and economy pale in comparison.

As a nature photographer, my environmentalist friends of which I have many are confounded by my seemingly contradictory  “Hierarchy of Needs” or desires that do not match their own; but we all have disparate foundational start and formative experiences and conclusions thereof. Born to poverty I prioritize economic stability first, my second personal "bottom line", not ironically, second.

Today we are balancing on a knife’s edge of another financial collapse. The price of oil sets new record highs almost daily, yet we are collectively unwilling to drill for any. The dollar is falling and its value is reaching unprecedented lows. Our trade deficit is reaching alarming heights and our National Debt is shamefully reckless and stupid ($7.9 trillion 2004).  Our nations Kum Ba Yah types have undermined our ability to win war, consequently extending war because of the handicaps imposed, protracted wars naturally will cost more in both money and lives.

We have given tacit approval for an invasion of illegal immigrants whose exponential growth overextends our ability to absorb the cost of their demand on services (welfare, health care, law enforcement, prison). We have a finite amount of resources (water, timber, ore, housing), and demands for them are great yet, because of our apathy, we must extend these resources to those that shouldn’t even be here competing for them. Consequently, the law of 'supply and demand' are running up the price of services and commodities thus reducing availability and affordability.

mother, baby looking into uncertain future

Our entitlement programs SSI, Medicare etc. are unsustainable Ponzi Schemes (see footnote) perpetuated upon our children for the egocentric benefit of their parents (us = see footnote) yet our oblivious children believe that socialized medicine is a worthy log to throw upon a fire that exponentially is approaching firestorm proportions.

If we keep playing chicken with economic collapse, we will get the fate we are tempting. Economic collapse is coming and as we balance on our knifes’ edge anything can push us over the edge into recession or depression, and it will likely be a series of terrorist attacks timed to expedite exactly the impending financial collapse.

The bright side of our glass; half empty is that our inevitable financial collapse will provide the school of hard knocks generation X, Y and Z, need to rediscover what our grandparents learned during the Great Depression. Adversity builds character and teaches us what is really important, self-reliance, compassion, frugality, faith, and a love of family, freedom and country.

Then, we as a nation can be practical again.

Addendum 1/1/2020

Reflecting upon this on New Years Day 2020 the recession happened a few years later (September 2008) and the young learned nothing from it. I suppose that the Y2K disaster really happened, the disaster though was merely mispredicted; the disaster was the millennial mindset.

Addendum 4/1/2020 = Three months later

Apparently because of the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 Generation X, Y and Z will be repeating the class.


SSI, Medicare footnote : To clarify, we are entitled to SSI and Medicare because we paid into them all our lives, however we didn’t reform them as was our responsibility; hence their future collapse is our collective failure. We are not the ones the constructed a failed model, nor the politicians that looted it, we though didn’t use our vote to correct these problems.

The term entitlement has been bastardized over time from something we are “entitled” to; too something some think they are entitled to.  Sadly linguistics can be victimized by semantic misappropriation.    No offense intended to those who have been paying into what they are rightfully entitled to.

Ponzi Scheme footnote:

Pon·zi scheme
/ˈpänzē ˌskēm/

  1. a form of fraud in which belief in the success of a nonexistent enterprise is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors.

It has been argued that because SSI and Medicare are legal government plans; hence not illegal fraud Ponzi Schemes, that though doesn’t change the faulty structure of the programs that appear too many to be just that. If there is a better description let me know in the comments.

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