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Ear to the Ground

The Next Great Depression?

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Posted on Mar 31, 2008
Dorothea Lange / FSA

It’s looking that way for a growing number of Americans. Record home foreclosures, escalating unemployment and price hikes are hitting them in the gut, creating a record number—28 million—who are in need of food stamps to feed themselves and their families.

Forty states are reporting increases in applications for food stamp assistance, which now comes in the form of an electronic card swiped at the checkout counter. 

The Independent:

Dismal projections by the Congressional Budget Office in Washington suggest that in the fiscal year starting in October, 28 million people in the US will be using government food stamps to buy essential groceries, the highest level since the food assistance programme was introduced in the 1960s.

The increase—from 26.5 million in 2007—is due partly to recent efforts to increase public awareness of the programme and also a switch from paper coupons to electronic debit cards. But above all it is the pressures being exerted on ordinary Americans by an economy that is suddenly beset by troubles. Housing foreclosures, accelerating jobs losses and fast-rising prices all add to the squeeze.

Emblematic of the downturn until now has been the parades of houses seized in foreclosure all across the country, and myriad families separated from their homes. But now the crisis is starting to hit the country in its gut. Getting food on the table is a challenge many Americans are finding harder to meet. As a barometer of the country’s economic health, food stamp usage may not be perfect, but can certainly tell a story.

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By purplewolf, April 4, 2008 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

You say, “the portion of the population receiving food stamps is lower that during Clinton’s first term.” Okay so you go back 15+ years, the population of this country was lower and if the percentage of people getting food stamps now is lower, we still would have more people getting this benefit as there are more people living in America than there were when Clinton first took office, in which he inherited the fall out from 12 years of Republican non existent trickle down economics.

Figures don’t lie, but give liars time to figure.

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By hippy pam, April 3, 2008 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

Gasoline for an Iraqui citizen driving an AMERICAN
PICKUP TRUCK-IN IRAQ-IS $1.00 or less per GALLON[according to a friend of mine in the military who JUST GOT HOME]-[for a minute] CUZ HE HAS TO GO BACK AND FIGHT BULLSH*T’s WAR FOR IRAQUI “FREEDOM”-The trucks are GM’s and GMC’s etc- the DUAL TIRED/DUAL CAB BIG ONES we spend $4.00 per gallon to

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By hippy pam, April 2, 2008 at 4:18 pm Link to this comment

FIVE-YES FIVE more people I personally know-were LAYED OFF THIER JOBS TODAY!!!!!!One has been at the same job for 11 years-the other 4 are working for TEMPORARY SERVICE AGENCIES and have to give a percentage of the earnings to the temp service for ALLOWING THEM TO WORK….How about…We TAKE ALL BUSH*TS MONEY AND HIS OIL BUDDIES $$$ etc.etc..and FUND THIS COUNTRY-While we are at it…LET’S SEND THE “BULL SHIT BUNCH” SOMEWHERE[ANYWHERE] ELSE…

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By cv, April 2, 2008 at 9:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What a bunch junk, if you are going to use terms at least know what they mean. This country is not even in a recession. You all do realize that gas is far cheaper in the US than probably any other country. That ahole Obama wants to increase 10 fold the amount of money sent overseas, how is that going to help us at home?

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By kcom, April 2, 2008 at 8:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If and when an actual depression comes along you people will laugh at yourselves for being so ridiculous in this thread.  That’s assuming, of course, you even have computer access at that point to re-read this poppycock.  Or the electricity to run the computer to read it on.  Or the house or apartment to keep the computer in.  Because odds are, you’ll be riding a railroad boxcar somewhere and will have forgotten all about it.  I know it serves your interests to promote this depression theme but it’s so ridiculous that it’s laughable.  Anybody who really lived through the Great Depression couldn’t look around and say with a straight face that things are worse today.  The first rule of dealing with real world problems is to rely on facts, not fantasies.  (Yes, I know it was a waste of time typing this.  You’re comfy living in your current universe, and have no wish to visit ours.)

A few quick stats:

        Now           Then
Unemp.    4.8% (Feb 2008)    23.6% (1932)
GNP +/-    +0.58% (Apr 2008)  -13.4% (1932)

And check out this link to see what a depression really is:


1930 -  GNP falls 9.4%, unemployment rises from 3.2% to 8.7%

1931 -  GNP falls another 8.5%, unemployment rises to 15.9%

1932 -  GNP falls a further 13.4%, unemployment rises to 23.9%, stock values down 80% since 1930, farm prices down 53% since 1929, international trade down by two-thirds since 1929

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By Mike G, April 2, 2008 at 5:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Investor’s Business Daily has a good editorial today pointing out that in terms of percentage, the portion of the population receiving food stamps is lower than during Clinton’s first term—even though there’s a campaign to sign up food stamp users going on right now.

Funny that the press didn’t go around crying Depression right before a Democrat was running for reelection, isn’t it?

And funny that people have such a need to see their opposition to Bush in such overdramatized fashion.  No, you don’t live in a place worse than Nazi Germany and you’re not in a Depression worse than the 30s.  If you knew anything about history you’d realize how absurd claims like that are.

“At least Hitler meant well”—The Huffington Post

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By Porkov, April 2, 2008 at 4:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Everyone who has posted here lamenting the onset of another great depression has some form of access to the internet.  The word I would use to describe this bitter brew of class envy is “indignorance.”

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By cyrena, April 1, 2008 at 11:04 pm Link to this comment

•  “What a joke - all this blather about whether or not we’re in a recession.  Having grown up in the Depression, I know one when I see one.  We are not only in a depression, we are in one that is far more fundamentally damaging than the last.”

Well dale, if it’s a joke, it’s a cruel one, because I know exactly what you’re saying, and I didn’t even grow up in the Depression. (my Grandparents did though, and my parents were born at the tail end of it).

So, even I’ve known that we’ve been in a Depression for a long time, and that it is fundamentally more damaging than the last. If anyone cares to even think about, it’s already lasted far longer than the last, and it’s only just getting going to the point of wiping out a far larger section of the US population.

In other words, there are far more of us now, and we are demographically more spread out. So, despite the advances in communications’ technology, it has taken a while for the ‘effects’ to be FELT by so many. Oh yeah, we’ve KNOWN them, but far too many folks have been suffering more or less silently for several years, until this housing crisis busted the thing wide open.

And of course the old adage has always been in play, “It’s a ‘recession’ when your neighbor loses his/her job, and it’s a ‘DEPRESSION’ when we lose our own!”

Until it became SO MANY OF US, not many folks have paid a whole lot of attention.

Anyway, I like the reminder that water supports from BENEATH, and NOT from above.
Another truism.

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By yours truly, April 1, 2008 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How is it that 28,000,000 of us are in need of food stamps when our GDP is 12 trillion dollars or $40,000 per woman, man & child?  Injustice and inequality, that’s how.  What can we do about it?  Elect a president who’ll end the Iraq War, negotiate with Iran plus turning things around here at home.  And then what sort of world?  It’ll be up to us.

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By yours truly, April 1, 2008 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How is it that 28,000,000 of us are in need of food stamps when our GDP is 12 billion dollars or $40,000 per woman, man & child?  Injustice and inequality, that’s how.  What can we do about it?  Elect a president who’ll end the Iraq War, negotiate with Iran plus turning things around here at home.  And then what sort of world?  It’ll be up to us.

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By Justin Williams, April 1, 2008 at 11:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Think it’s bad on the Mainland? Try Hawaii, particularly the Big Island, the most rural of the islands. $7.00 for a loaf of bread for example. Most of the food here, is shipped from the Mainland to Oahu, then to the Big Island by a shipping company that has a monopoly on imports here. Think oil prices hurt you at the supermarket? Thank the gods that the climate is nice here.
  Housing costs are so high here, that half the people I know are virtually living outside in very crude shelters. Many families live in tents and squat on coffee farms and do “work trades” like indentured servants, for a place to camp. I see single mothers hitch hiking and camping out in the jungle with their kids, scrounging for wild food, they are called “Fruit Flies”.
  This is the real Hawaii as I see it. I hate to think what poor Americans will be doing a year from now in the cold climates of the Northern U.S.

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By dale Headley, April 1, 2008 at 10:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What a joke - all this blather about whether or not we’re in a recession.  Having grown up in the Depression, I know one when I see one.  We are not only in a depression, we are in one that is far more fundamentally damaging than the last.  Our economy is currently dedicated to maintaining the comfort of the turtle at the top of the stack - the corporate bosses and their shareholders.  But the turtles struggling at the bottom are ignored completely.  At some point, the turtles at the bottom will collapse and the whole structure will come crashing down. 
    The depression of the 30’s did not destroy the basic structure of the economy as this one is doing.  FDR recognized that the basis of the U.S. economy was the welfare of the individual citizen and set out to attack the problem from that perspective.  The result was the greatest expansion of our economy in history; even the heavily taxed elite ended up profiting immensely.  This time around, the powers that be (kleptocracy) are only interested in the upper echelons (corporations, financial institutions, stock markets, etc.).  The government (as it has already begun to do) will continue to bolster the profits of the well-to-do, while the middle and low class bedrock steadily crumbles away.  Our intellectually challenged president and his neocon handlers cling to the Reaganesque aphorism that a rising tide lifts all boats; perhaps, but it should be remembered that water supports from BENEATH, not from above.

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By purplewolf, April 1, 2008 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

Thanks to the London newspaper, who has exposed to the world what the Bush administration has censored into oblivion. That things are not so rosy here at home. Something too many of the people here knew a long time ago. Something, also, many(THE BRAINWASHED) were unaware of thanks to G.W.Bush lying, hiding, censoring and deleting and altering the truth about the real state of the nation. The truth finally comes out about Bush’s dirty little secret.

Another round of booing(heard now)just like at the new baseball field yesterday, only louder and longer.

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By kadinji, April 1, 2008 at 8:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Independent’s photograph dates from 2005; yours dates from the 1930’s.

The CBO’s “projections…suggest that in 2008…28 million people may be using government food stamps.”

“Escalating” unemployment is at historical lows.

Your article and the Independent’s peddle distortions, innuendo, and downright lies.

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By purplewolf, April 1, 2008 at 8:23 am Link to this comment

Even though America was modeled after the Native Indians, America has lost its way in pursuit of the almighty dollar and greed. Natives always made sure everyone was fed, unlike what is happening today. And no the average person does not get $88-$100 a month for food as claimed in local Michigan newspapers. The amount allowed does not begin to cover a somewhat half healthy diet. The monthly total is more like $1.50 a day or less per person, their income is not enough to pay living expenses. Food prices have gone up drastically and not the low figure of 6% claimed by the government. They use unrealistic manipulated figures that make things seem better that they really are. As Michigan has had money problems thanks to John Englers 12 year reign against the state of Michigan and especially the poor, a true Repukelican, things have not improved much, as he left such a mess for the incoming governor to try to untangle.

Thanks to the corrupt commander in chief the oil companies have helped to raise the price of food and not just a few pennies. Just look at the price of gas for example. Items have gone up a minimum of 10% on a package of lettuce to a 315% increase on a dozen eggs. Milk is out of reach for many, and bread which could be purchased for 69 cents a loaf at some stores is over $2.79 and now there is more talk of flour prices going up. Yet the amount of food stamp allotment has not been increased to keep up with these increases but in many cases been decreased. Like the government PTB think we can still buy the over priced necessities with less money. You can only sqeeze so many cups of tea out of a tea bag, which equals 1 mealtime for many in America today. Shame on this current administration, who continues to boast we are the greatest-richest nation in the world. They have obviously not taken a realistic look at what has happened in the last 7+ years to the American people.

The government then comes up with the brilliant comment that food stamps were not meant for long term as they really know it is insufficient. For the seniors and disabled who rely on this program, it is very hard to maintain anything close to a adequate diet as it has come to the point of there is no where else to cut back on. Even medical dietician experts state it cost about $100 a week for a under?low calorie(means not enough food) well balanced diet for 1 person, so anywhere between $1.00-$1.50 a day or $7.00-$$11.50 a week is a far cry from $100.00 a week, and this does not include the new round of price increases(cheese is now about $10.00 for even the cheapest price which was $2.00 a pound on sale as little as a month ago). Seniors can receive government commodities, greatly cut back by the Bush administration, every month and they still receive more variety than the disabled, who only are allowed commodities once every 3 months and are not allowed fruit, cheese, peanut butter or milk. Usually the disabled get 2 cans of tomato sauce, 1 quart cooking oil, 1 pound of mystery meat(sometimes) and a bag of some type of pasta-every 3 months. Once a year (maybe) 2 cans of some type of vegetable.

America sends better food packages to the rest of the world, who many do not like the type of food we have here and has been reported during the Bush reign, feed the peanut butter to their donkeys. Who’s the jackass now George? Makes you proud to be an American doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my country, but not the current policies and the way this administration has disregarded all the living species on earth as well as the environment, all in the name of more greed for the fat cats.

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By hippy pam, April 1, 2008 at 6:08 am Link to this comment

HIS IMPERIAL HIGH*SS EMPEROR B*LL SH*T should have to FUND his gifts to other countries from HIS OWN POCKET….I live in a State where the outgoing GOVERNOR left a BIG MESS….The person who won the election has had a TUFF TIME TRYING TO FIX THE MESS.
It Ain’t getting any better…I see the WHOLE COUNTRY IN A BIG MESS.Lack of Employment-Industry ALLOWED to leave so THEY can make more $$$ with LESS OVERSITE[and give our kids lead poising]-HEALTH CARE CRISIS-Our TROOPS in a POINTLESS WAR[does this-maybe-have to do with there being NO JOBS?So “the admin”

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By BlueEagle, April 1, 2008 at 2:18 am Link to this comment

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” Thomas Jefferson

It is already a reality:

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By cyrena, March 31, 2008 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment

Me too Fadel. Matter of fact, I’m used to it at this point. Maybe there was an advantage to getting hit early on. By now, I’ve started to adjust.

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By Fadel Abdallah, March 31, 2008 at 9:26 pm Link to this comment

Well, I’ve been living in depression for the last seven years since Bush ascended to the throne of this great democracy. I only knew it will get worse. So this piece of information is no new news for me.

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