You know the economy is in trouble when you can walk into Walmart and find Recession and Sympathy for Your Job Loss greeting cards.
The jokes are a painful reminder of how much most of our lives have changed. Years ago it was unusual to actually know someone who had filed bankruptcy, been laid off or had a house foreclosure.
Admitting to financial failure had as much social stigma attached to it as admitting you were gay. Now neither topic is taboo and everyone knows someone who is.
So what do Americans do to express the new status quo of financial impotence? We send greeting cards to soothe and uplift each other. For under $5 you can send a colorful and funny sentiment to say “I care”. Add a coffee mug for another $10, maybe a quippy T-shirt and a few biscotti mummified in cellophane and you have the perfect way to say “I’m sorry the economy sucks so bad” for about $30. That’ll cheer anyone up.
Americans drop cash like pigeons drop poo. We think nothing of popping by the fast food drive thru and passing over a twenty in exchange for watered soda, cold faux fries and a burger who’s first ingredient is “fibrous byproducts”.
We can’t tie the knot without tying ourselves to years of debt, express love without diamonds or have girl time without $5 coffee. We are a nation of drivers that scream about oil spills. We want change but not if we have to.
And that has all led us to where we are today with a wrecked environment and a tanked economy. The biggest thing about us anymore is our waistlines. We used to be known for being a nation of strength and integrity. Now we are famous for our whines.
Recent politics promised us change, but the only change we have seen is a lack of it in our pockets. Perhaps it’s time to get back to the ‘can do/make do’ attitude that saw us through the Great Depression before this era becomes its financial sequel. It’ll take cooperation, sacrifice and determination… and maybe passing up the Recession greeting cards.