Economic Shock And Awe

There is an elderly man who I know in Hoots that I always enjoy talking to. He’s a dapper fellow, always wearing a straw fedora and I’ve never seen him without a library book in his hand. To say he always looks neat and well dressed is an understatement. He doesn’t drive anymore so you see him walking, recently with a cane, around the downtown area. I’ve taken him to his home on a couple of occasions when the heat looked to be too much for him. Although I don’t know his age, I’m thinking he is in his mid-eighties.

He asked me last night if I remembered Herbert Hoover. I told him yes.

“George Bush is no different than Herbert Hoover,” he said. “I was a kid during the depression and I want you to know, we are heading down this path again.”

I told him that I really didn’t remember that much about Hoover, which I owned. He told me to go get a book. Now if you knew this man, he has the mouth of a sailor coming out of this tidy package of an older person. I must tell you, it shocks me each and every time when he comes out with an expletive.

“They are trying to scare us,” he said with a few choice words added in for effect. “This damned government keeps trying to use religion and gays and immigrants to scare the bejezus out of regular folks who aren’t paying attention to the fact that we are at war and our economy is in the shitter. It isn’t until times like this that people start noticing that their way of life is impacted by bad decisions in Washington.”

I nodded. He was on a roll.

“If that gotdamn John Tanner votes for this bailout,” he said angrily. “I swear I’ll personally give him a piece of my mind. He’s eating and will continue to eat. But some of these folks won’t and that’s what they are forgetting. It’s not for us to pay for Wall Street. Hell, we can barely pay for the recent tax increases and electricity hikes around here.”

I agreed once again.

“Whoever wins president will be blamed for the mistakes and greed of that idiot Bush,” he said. “And that’s all I have to say.”

And he didn’t say another word about it, sticking to his guns.

I watched him leave about 30 minutes later, his cane in one hand and a library book in the other. He walked out into the night.

You never know unless you listen to what other people say and how they perceive things. Mr. J (as I call him) is an angry American and he sees the sins of the past catching up to the present.

Sometimes my chest tightens us and I wonder what’s next, because, although I’m a glass half-full kind of woman, I can’t help believe that it’s only going to get worse until it gets better.

11 comments for “Economic Shock And Awe

  1. September 24, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    I suppose it begs the question of which candidate will be our next FDR. Ironically, I’ve been saying for *years* as jobs first began to disappear and after Katrina that we need another WPA to rebuild and protect our infrastructure.

    We’ve agreed to not talk politics during our upcoming vacation with my parents since it usually generates anger and hurt feelings. But we’ve agreed to watch the debates together. That should be interesting and hopefully enlightening. I’m quite interested in hearing more of my Dad’s rationale as to why he loves the candidate that I don’t.

  2. September 24, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Hearing you describe this guy makes me think of my grandaddy – he’d be 98 this year, hard to believe — of the Great Depression he said “hell, we didn’t notice any change because we were already dirt poor!”

    The more I hear you describe Hoots, it makes me think of home. A place inhabited by hard-working people, who never expect to get rich, but just want to give their children a better life, etc.

    You make a great point re the wisdom of our elders — we should listen to them more — if we did, we probably wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.

    As for it getting worse before it gets better, sadly, I agree with you. I wish I felt different, but I think this is only the tip of the iceberg. I’m just waiting on another shoe to drop… And I hate that.

  3. saraclark
    September 24, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Mr. J ain’t kidding. I saw an article with the economic parallels between now and the years leading up to the great depression and even the analytical charts were so exact as to be scary.

    People don’t think about how globalized everything was then up until that point as well. The Depression was global not just US based and it will be again.

  4. September 24, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Thanks for this. You’re a wonderful person for really listening to folks. And now I feel a bit wiser for getting to read what you shared.

    His generation had their Hooverville. Is our Bushville coming? Is it here yet?

  5. September 24, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    “This damned government keeps trying to use religion and gays and immigrants to scare the bejezus out of regular folks who aren’t paying attention to the fact that we are at war and our economy is in the shitter. …”

    Sounds like my kind of guy!

  6. SemiPundit
    September 24, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Like some genetic diseases that are known to skip a generation, the realization and the will to take on the problem of creeping fascism in America has fallen from the grasp of my generation (I am the same age as George Bush and Bill Clinton). For what it’s worth, I offer an apology.

    Fortunately there are some, like Naomi Klein, who have come forth to take up the banner of the old man you speak of. Her recent book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, lays out in clear language what we are up against. It has been over a half century in the making, longer if you consider the influences leading up to it.

    Here is her website:

    This excerpt is actually nearly all of the introduction to her book. It is a must read.

  7. SemiPundit
    September 24, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    I just noticed on her website that she will appear on Rachel Maddow’s program on MSNBC tonight. I’m setting my VCR (gotta get TIVO).

  8. September 24, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    In a similar vein to what Beth said about her grandfather, I once asked my grandfather what the Depression was like. He replied, “We didn’t notice much difference; we just lived the same way we always had. Son, your ancestors moved into Appalachia in the 18th century as a step *up* the economic ladder.”

    He was a smart-ass.

  9. September 25, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    “…go get a book.” That is so Mr. J. I’d love to see what that cuss has in his library. I’d bet it’s bookworm heaven. He’s also very intolerant of people who don’t have basic history knowledge. You should watch Jeopardy with him sometime if you want to hear some fantastic swearing.

  10. September 29, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    That’s it, I’m writing in Mr. J.
    He sounds like an 80yo Dennis Kucinich.

    Kathy stated “I suppose it begs the question of which candidate will be our next FDR”.


    It may or may not be Obama, but it damn sure isn’t McLame.
    Every undecided voter should be asked that question.

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