Recession Redux Worse Than 2008

Unemployed, by Ronald Slayton, 1937
How did you like the first helping of the Great Recession? Did it make you all warm and fuzzy? Did it fill you with longing for more economic despair and deprivation?

Well, than you're going to be very happy, because your second helping of whatever you want to call this prolonged economic abyss (for unemployed people and the poor especially), is on its way—at least that is more and more the prediction coming from numerous sources.

And the really great news is that the Recession Redux is going to be even worse than the first time around.

Remember how great 2008 was? Remember how when you would go out Christmas "shopping", Christmas just didn't happen? The stores were dead empty. The few people you did see looked like fucking zombies. People were scared out of their minds that they were going to lose their jobs, and millions of them did.

The ones who clung to employment found they were being ruthlessly treated like a dog's chewtoy by their bosses, squeezing out every last drop of "productivity" from the least possible number of employees. These corporations pocketed all the government tax breaks and stimulus money they could get, but they avoided using it for hiring as if new employees were the plague.

The "new normal" is that we now have the very reverse of the situation in the late 1990s, when a tek bubble generated an employee-friendly environment, where even hamburger-flipper jobs had to pay a lot more to get employees than they ever had before. Ever since the collapse of that bubble, businesses have worked assiduously, aided by pro-business and anti-labor Republicans, to clarify the working relationship between business and employees as open warfare.

The simple fact is that human capital is extremely expensive, compared to a machine or a piece of software. Companies are looking for ways to cut costs. And the first place to do that is to fire people. That's just what happened in the 2008 Great Recession. Millions of Americans thrown out of work in the Great Firing have never found work again.

And it's going to be even worse this time. Except—supposedly—businesses have already cut back as much as they can. Sure. There's always plenty of room to cut back more. They will start firing even more people, reduce the quality of their products and their services and lower prices as we collapse into the deflationary condition typical of economic depression. As more people lose their jobs, and government cuts back more on social safety-net services, more and more American families will be tossed to the street—collateral casualties of the games rich people play with the rest of us.

It's too late to wish it would all get better somehow. The politicians are fools and cowards. They care so little for human beings other than themselves, they have tied up the apparatus of government like Gulliver trapped by the Lilliputians. It is absurd to claim this is the fault only of Republicans. Democrats conspired to create these conditions also. Their performance in the ghastly debt-ceiling massacre (of working government) was pathetic.

And Barack Obama? He just gets grayer and paler every day. It was never going to be an easy job fixing Bush's rape of America. But Obama has acted like some indifferent, bored bureaucrat, just anxious to get his client off the phone and off his mind as quickly as possible. The idea of advocacy, as opposed to docile placating of right-wing extremists, has not occurred to him. Obama likes crafting policies. He doesn't like demanding what is right—which he says is a childish insistence on getting one's way.

As Obama has said, his idea of compromise with his wife is to give her 90% of what she wants. He didn't get such a good deal as that in his surrender of the nation's ass to Republicans.

Meanwhile, just as Republicans have so artfully engineered (and note how much Obama helped them accomplish this), when they ask the American people if they are better off than they were four years ago, most of them will answer "no"—and vote Republican.

And they will seal the fate of the late, decreasingly great or interesting American empire.