Fear of Falling

I try not to post about politics very often. Sure, I enjoy politics, but this is a comics blog, and most of its focus should be on comics. And I do more than enough whining about job-hunting as it is. Nevertheless, I found this graph online yesterday, and I felt like sharing.

Go ahead and click on that graphic so you can see a larger, more legible size.

And here’s a post from Time Magazine’s “Swampland” blog about the graph. The graph was put together by Nancy Pelosi (rolls fainting couch in) and prepared from numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The blue line represents job losses during the 1990 recession; the red line is from the 2001 recession. The green line is the current recession. It’s measured in months since the peak job levels and in thousands of jobs.

Now take a close look at that green line. Focus on it. Think about what that line means to you. It’s the first steep drop on a roller coaster, it’s Jason Voorhees swinging a machete, it’s the look on Wile E. Coyote’s face just before the anvil hits. It’s pulling the cord on the emergency parachute and getting nothing. It’s terminal velocity.

It’s scary as heck for me ’cause I’m job-hunting and there aren’t many jobs out here. But it should be scary for you, too. That’s not a line that’s suddenly going to bounce back up to normal levels. That’s a line that’s going to keep plunging hard for at least another few months before it starts to level off. If it starts to level off.

If you’re lucky, that line won’t impact you or your family at all. But even if you’re lucky, it is absolutely going to impact people you know. It’s looking like this is going to be a nasty time.

And if we’re not careful, it’s going to be dominated by nasty people, too. There are folks out there who apparently think that, if only the recession will go on long enough, their party can get back into power, or they can nab some big Neilsen ratings for their radio shows. There are Congressthings that want to cut food stamps, ’cause hey, the best way to fix the country has gotta be more hungry people, right?

The problem with this is, again, the green line. That green line is falling pretty fast, and it hasn’t shown a lot of respect for what party the unemployed may belong to. A recession that lasts 4-8 years and extremely steep job losses may be, in theory, a boon for some political parties, but in practice, it means millions of people out of work, falling into poverty, exhausting state and charitable resources. It means more people having to choose between paying rent and buying food, between keeping the electricity on and getting those chest pains checked out. It means more homeless families, more sick and dying kids, more shuttered businesses.

Anyone who says they want a long recession, for any reason, is either (1) not really thinking about what a long recession means, (2) lying for some stupid reason, or (3) a sociopath. And those people should either (1) start thinking, (2) stop lying, or (3) go away, never touch national economic policy or chainsaws, and start taking their meds.

So this is going to be an excellent time to crank your empathy and compassion meters up as high as they’ll go. The last thing I wanna hear is that any of y’all are kicking people while they’re down. I’m not saying y’all gotta give a ton of money to charities, ’cause a lot of y’all can’t afford even that. But I am saying it’s time for all of y’all to start thinking as compassionately as possible about your fellow human beings, regardless of their social status.

The jobless, the homeless, the hungry, the sick, the oppressed — if you’re lucky, they won’t be you or anyone you know. But luck is an awfully rare item these days. There but for the grace of God, goes all of us…

No Comments

  1. swampy Said,

    February 7, 2009 @ 10:24 pm

    I hope that the big companies will use this time to see what they did wrong and how they can fix their mistakes. Those who do not remember the past (and their mistakes) are doomed to repeat it.

  2. Hero Sandwich » Death and Taxes Said,

    February 9, 2009 @ 6:27 am

    […] after this weekend’s angst over the economy, you’d think I’d be completely uninterested in dealing with finances, but no! As it […]

  3. GregS Said,

    February 10, 2009 @ 5:49 pm

    “There are folks out there who apparently think that, if only the recession will go on long enough, their party can get back into power, or they can nab some big Neilsen ratings for their radio shows.”

    It is THAT kind of thinking that perpetuates the problem. You know WHY some people are clamoring for a continued failure so they have something to hang on the other party? Because THAT party wants to hang it on the other party. It’s real easy to say “hey, we’re all in this together” when it’s you butt in the sling. I agree that the economy is scary right now, and we’ve gotta fix it. So let’s stop pointing fingers and stop being “holier than thou” and just fix the dang thing. If you wanna be smug and self-righteous when things ARE better then go ahead. But otherwise don’t expect the “not in power” group to see the merit of unity when you’re bashing on them.

    I say this as a Libertarian voter sick of the lack of responsibility.

  4. Scott Slemmons Said,

    February 10, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

    I do think there’s one specific group that should be excluded from the process — namely, the Randroids, like Allan Greenspan, who helped get us into this mess and who still, after all these decades, refuse to John Galt themselves out of society…