I was a little astonished to have received “Likes” on some of my older posts, the ones that meant quite a lot when I wrote them, but that I had almost forgotten about. I don’t make a habit of reading them. In fact I avoid them, partly because I had just started blogging and they aren’t well written. But mostly it’s because they are from a period in life that was particularly difficult, the kind of trying times that shows one who their friends really are. During that time, my world shrunk considerably.
The post that almost brought tears to my eyes remembering the passion with which it was written is this one, “Things I worry about but haven’t talked about.” Included in it is the story of my childhood friend who lost everything in the crash and went without food for a couple of weeks. There were some details left out, of course, that she had been running low on money before she was completely without, and she, her daughter and her elderly mother all split a Banquet frozen meal, those that sell for about a dollar each, a couple of times a day for at least a month, maybe more. I also never came back and updated this post with the news that she had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for a time as a result.
It was because of her that the books I had read about the social history of the Great Depression seemed much less surreal and more personalized. I do not know of any one person who wouldn’t be impressed by the gravity of the human condition at the time and be able to maintain their composure. I surely could not. One can likely rationalize the loss of a job, going into bankruptcy and then getting on with life, as we generally assume happens. We take our losses, regroup, and get back on our feet. But there is simply no way to rationalize human suffering to the degree in which she suffered or the folks hit hard by the Great Depression, much less it occurring here twice in 80 years. But there it is; and it is only by divine providence that I spent much of my period of unemployment only on the hungrier side of hungry.
When I wonder what there is that we can learn from it, I start feeling a bit melancholy thinking about how little we’ve collectively learned about causes and origins of the Great Recession. All the hawkishness with regard to monetary policy seems quite petty compared the very meaning of it to people like me and my childhood friend. I’m quite astonished at the very recent gathering of hawks squawking about the dangers of monetary expansion to central bank independence at Stamford under a much larger than life portrait of Milton Friedman who suggested that it would be a worthwhile idea to replace the FOMC with a computer. Why have we not done that?
Much of the time the big things that happen in this world just do not make any sense whatsoever; and I really have no idea why I keep trying to make sense out of it. I often give up trying, only to find myself at it again sometime later. Perhaps I should just accept it as it is, as it a problem that cannot be solved, likely not even semi-permanently.