“Eek! Eek! The sky is falling! There's a recession! Head for the hills!
“Oh no. I can’t afford to buy a hill because of the recession.
“I’m already overextended on my credit cards and the value of my house has dropped eight per cent so I can’t leverage that to buy a good hill to hide on.
“I’ll just have to sit in the basement of my depreciating house and shiver with fear.”
If you read the papers and watch some TV, you know we have a recession going on right now.
Despite the tone of the news coverage, a recession isn’t a Depression. A recession is when you’ve got two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.
That’s fancy economist talk for: “The economy got a little smaller.”
While recessions aren’t particularly pleasant—particularly when compared to a total body massage from Paris Hilton—they aren’t as bad as, say, having your entrails torn from your body and consumed by rabid wolverines.
It’s OK. I’ll wait.
The minute I wrote the words “total body massage” and “Paris Hilton,” I knew I was going to lose some of you for a while.
I’ll just sit here and cool my heels, wait for you to come back from whatever little mind movie you’ve got going where Paris gives you that patented, I’m-a-bad-girl-and-I-know-it-look and whispers, “That's hot!” and, knowing you, also whispers a bunch of other words that we can’t publish in a respectable publication such as this.
I’ll just read a magazine till you’re done… OK? You’re back? Cool. Read on.
Now the last time we had a recession, we called it a recession.
This time it’s a “global financial crisis.”
That makes it sound worse.
It’s like when people get a cold—not for nothing do they call it “common”—and start insisting they have “influenza” because you get more attention that way.
Part of the reason that’s done is that newscasters know everybody on the planet has come down with a case of advanced Attention Deficit Disorder and if they don’t shout loudly enough, you’ll change the channel to ultimate fighting or something
That’s always why, just before they cut to commercial, the news people say something like, “A common household object under your sink could kill your children! Later on WKLZXYNewsChannel4!”
And because they’ve scared the crap out of you, instead of switching to ultimate fighting or something filthy on Showcase, you decide to be a good parent and keep watching the perky Stepford people on the TV news.
And it turns out that the common household objects that can kill your child are those scouring pads for goop burned on your cooking pots.
Some product testing group has figured out that if your kid stuck three of them up his nose and then set them on fire, his head would explode.
And it occurs to you that if your kid was dumb enough to force three scouring pads into his sinuses and them set them on fire, you kid would deserve to have his head explode.
So we’ve got the news folks screaming about how the sky is falling so loudly and so often so they can get us to buy their papers or tune into their newscasts so that we can get even more scared.
Problem is, if they scare us enough, we’ll quit buying their products, too.
I started to consider heading for the hills myself, when I thought, “I kind of remember recessions before,” and did some research.
Turns out this is my ninth recession.
Hell, I was born in a recession that lasted eight months. There was another one when I was three, 11, 17, 22, 24, 33, 44 and now this one.
And you know what?
I don’t remember most of them.
I’m not from a rich family, but I never missed a meal or had to live in a hobo jungle.
I obviously don’t remember my first couple of recessions. I didn’t notice the third because I was 11 and starting to notice girls instead.
The ones when I was 17 and 22 are also kind of a blur because I was either going to school or working. I came out of university when I was 24 and went straight into the work force. Again, didn’t even notice it. And the last two?
I’ve asked the people I know and they don’t really remember the last two, either.
The difference between previous recessions and this one seems to be publicity.
The news is all-recession-all-the-time and the more we read and hear, the more scared we get, and the more scared we get, the less we spend, and the less we spend…well. You get it.
To a great extent, recessions are psychological events—like a panic attack.
So just breathe into the paper bag for a while, folks. Take a deep breath. Quit watching the news for a while.
Eventually, things will be OK. They have the previous nine times this has happened.
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