Friday, November 14, 2008

The Perfect Storm

I wasn't feeling well at all yesterday and ended up staying home taking a very rare sick day. Over the course of that day off, I watched a program called "Black Blizzard," which recounted the days of the Dust Bowl in the prairie lands of America during the 1930's. Since the pain of the Dust Bowl occurred in the middle of the Great Depression, the farmers of the Great Plains were largely ignored as the country instead focused on the economic woes it faced.

Two things struck me about the Dust Bowl. The first was that environmentalists don't give our planet nearly the credit it deserves. Farmers in the midwest had long abused the earth and the earth took it's revenge and fixed the problem. We live on a very resilient planet. The second was that the Dust Bowl occurred at perhaps the worst possible time for America. Had the earth struck it's revenge a decade earlier, the burgeoning American economy could have helped these poor farmers. Perhaps later, say in the middle of WWII would have been just as devastating but there would have been more efforts to save these people stuck in the middle of a natural disaster.

Despite the pain and suffering for nearly a decade, the Dust Bowl eventually subsided and the American farmer learned from the mistakes it had made previous to 1930 and has never experienced a problem on a similar scale since. Much the same can be said about the economy in a broad sense. While faltering at times, the United States has secured that the economy would not collapse since these dark days of the 1930s. That is until now.

Perhaps the perfect storm is brewing around the United States again. A collapse in the housing market, a serious contraction of available dollars, a crushing debt and a diminishing job sector are swirling around the United States. And with an incoming president promising additional regulation and increased taxes, you wonder whether the storm will claim more victims. Only time will tell how history will look at this time in the United States. I hope the new president can find a way to fix this broken system. FDR is given credit for fixing the Dust Bowl but it truly wasn't fixed until the rains returned. I just don't have faith that Obama can make it rain.

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