1sunfight’s Weblog

February 24, 2010

Then and Now

In late January of 2009 I lost my job.  It is one year later and I am still looking for work.  Of course, I am not happy about it, especially with having put myself through college a little later in life.  I was and still am expecting a little more from my degree than what I have been getting.  I switched careers right after Bush, Jr.’s recession earlier in the decade, there were still a lot of people out of work, so I had a hard time finding a professional career, but after searching doggedly from 2003 to 2006 I did find one.  In that time I did have a false start at a company that was run by two brothers who were brilliant businessmen, but two of the worst managers I have ever worked for, so with that experience in mind I trudge forward with a wary eye over my shoulder.  I look to the past for guidance in the present and the future.  Right now my experience is telling me to go back to restaurant work, like I did for a while and keep getting ready for tomorrow.

I see in the present high unemployment, but still not as high as it was when I first graduated from high school in 1981.  Two years after I graduated from high school the unemployment rate went from 7.4% to 10.8% in 1982.   Back then I was living at home with my parents, so having a job didn’t mean to me what it means to me now.  Of course now the unemployment rate is 9.7%, down from 10.2%, which is too high.  It was 7.6% in January of 2009, but it spiked immediately after that, the full impact of a near financial collapse of our banking system was taking affect.

Back then inflation skyrocketed.  It was high while I was in high school in the late 70’s and early 80’s, inflation peaked in 1981.  Interest rates were outrageous.  I can remember reading and seeing interest rates for homes as high as 25%.  The official interest for the period is 13.5%.  A person never knew how much anything would cost the next day.  We are not experiencing runaway inflation today, like we did back then, in spite of George W. Bush’s free spending ways in both of his terms, or the bank bailout, or the stimulus spending act, except by the alarmists.  There are always gloom and doomers.  Back then there was a lot of spending going on to help spur the economy; it was called the arms race with the former Soviet Union.  Back then we went from a creditor nation to a debtor nation.  We did not reverse that until status until the mid to late 1990’s. In fact, we had a surplus in 2000.  It was then reversed starting in 2002.

Back then we weren’t fighting a two front war, nor were did we come to the near financial collapse like what we faced in late 2008 through early 2009.  Back then what was needed was to break the back of inflation.  Steps were taken to do just that, and like then a lot of people lost their jobs.  Back then the chairman of the Federal Reserve and the President of the United States were called job killers.  Back then the president’s approval ratings sank to 35% two years into his first term.  He lost 27 seats in the Houses of Congress.  Now the chairman of the federal reserve and the president of the United States are getting called  nearly the same thing and like back then, the president is facing losing seats in both Houses, even with approval ratings at 49%, which are significantly lower than his honeymoon period of a year ago when it 79%, but 49% is still better than back then.  Back then by the time the 1984 election rolled around people thought the president would lose, like what is being said now about our current president for a race that is nearly three years off.

By 1984 the unemployment rate sank to 7.2% winning the president another term.  Unemployment ran high through most of that president’s two terms.  It averaged 7.5% over his two terms.  (In 1986, after not being able to find stable employment, I moved to Atlanta and worked non-stop until a year ago.  I had no idea the unemployment was 7.0% in 1986.  I would not have made the move, if I knew then what I know now.  That recession caused me to relocate.)  Right now unemployment is expected to remain at 9.7% or 9.5% and by 2012 elections fall somewhere between 6.6% and 7.5%.  Like back then and like back then unemployment is expected to not start approach what is thought to be full employment in six years.  Back then full employment was not achieved until 1989 and I suspect things will not be any different.  Back then we faced down an entire decade of cyclical inflation and recession, now we are facing down a decade of greed and ownership society.  We will move beyond this.  I believe this.

I write this for two reasons.  One I am out of work and looking for work in a flooded job market is emotionally trying.  I really do not want to return to the odd hours and hard work that restaurants offer, but I will if I have to.  I know it’s temporary.  The other reason is that today we forget our past, our recent past.  There are enough people walking around who remember back then, but I am afraid back then is remembered as the “good old days” and people being what they are will remember those days with a little bit more in focus.  I believe there is too much ill will being hurled at a human being who walked into the nation’s worst crisis since FDR walked into the Great Depression.

Paul Volker

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan Unemployment Rate.

Some Fed officials favor reeling in stimulus soon

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1 Comment »

  1. It is simply amazing how many people forget what has happened only in our adult lifetimes. Thanks for the parallels. We need them.

    Comment by ReyMac — February 26, 2010 @ 11:17 pm


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