Letter: Should we be worried?
Not long ago, several things going on in the world got me and many of my friends worried that we could be headed for another Great Depression. I did some research and found enough differences between then and now to make me feel better: Bank deposits are now insured by the FDIC, we haven't had the equivalent of the "dust bowl" drought that plagued the country during several years of the depression, our official unemployment rate is pretty low, international trade is robust, etc. Then someone pointed out several things going on today that got me concerned all over again. Our president and Congress have been working steadily to rid our economy of what they claim are "job killing regulations," especially in the finance field. Those regulations are exactly the ones that offer the best protection against financial meltdowns like we've had in the past, both the Great Depression and in 2008. That great unemployment rate looks less great when you realize that it counts people as employed if they work at all, even a few hours. You are also considered employed if you have a temporary job that can end at any moment. If you got so discouraged looking for work that you stopped looking, the statistics simply leave you out of the equation — you are not counted as unemployed. How meaningful are these statistics to our overall health? Then there's the stagnant wages problem. What does "full employment" mean to those employed at a wage that doesn't cover their expenses? That's not an abstract problem when you consider that we live in a consumer society; the financial ability to consume is extremely important to our economy. The stock market is booming — setting records as I write this — but the stock market was booming before the 1929 crash, too. Even more important is the fact that a booming stock market doesn't help people who aren't invested in the stock market. If the stock market continues to boom but the wages of the great majority of people stagnate or fall, where do we end up? All of this is exacerbated by our president's intentional destabilizing of our relationships with European countries. Instability in those relationships cannot help the political or economic situation. Should we be worried?
— Magdalena Usategui
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