Archived: The Depression Is Starting to Look Good


I don’t know what kind of Thanksgiving you had, but things were pretty mellow at our house. We had family and friends over for dinner, then gathered around the fire and sang old songs.

“Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?” “Nobody Wants You When You’re Down and Out,” “Can I Sleep In Your Barn Tonight Mister?”— the golden oldies. They don’t write songs like that anymore. I suppose they haven’t needed to, until now.

My wife cooked the meal. Turkey with all the fixings. Technically speaking, I suppose, it wasn’t a turkey—more of a Cornish game hen—but it was good, I’ll tell you that. And we were grateful for it. (It’s amazing how filling cranberry sauce can be if you have enough of it.)

So OK, things were a little thin this year; I admit it. The past few weeks have taken a toll on my 401K. I’m considering giving it to my paperboy as a Christmas tip. But you know, I’ve always thought that this country had become too materialistic, too interested in “things.”

Well, George W. has taken care of that, hasn’t he? And to be honest, it wasn’t just George W. Bush. He had Dick Cheney to help him. When they said they were going to undo the excesses of the Clinton years, they weren’t kidding. I just didn’t think they were talking about excess income.
Not that I’m complaining. There’s still a lot to be thankful for.

Only last summer people were gnashing their teeth about $4-a-gallon gasoline. They couldn’t afford the gas to drive to their jobs, they said.

You don’t hear much of that anymore. Gas is about $1.75-a-gallon and they’ve lost their jobs. Problem solved.

Same thing with the high cost of living. Prices are going down. You walk into a store this Christmas season and the sales people fall upon you like wolves on a stray sheep, touting sale items.
Wanna buy a car? Have we got a deal for you. Same with houses. (Although it helps if you can pay for them in cash, small bills preferred.)

The people I feel the most envious of are the young people who are inheriting the environment we’ve created. Two wars. Economic crisis. Galloping unemployment. A budget deficit that threatens to block out the sun. A planet drying up with increasing speed. Sarah Palin.

The so-called “Greatest Generation” was the greatest because of the challenges it met—The Great Depression and World War II.

The current generation of youngsters might very well face challenges that make those of the GG look like a victory lap. Our youngsters have a real chance at being “The Even Greaterest Generation.”

I only wish I could live long enough to see it but I doubt I will. I’m afraid my health insurance will be cancelled when Medicare goes broke and I won’t be able to get a replacement because of a pre-existing condition—old age. That’s all right, though. Like the old blues song says: “I have had my fun, if I don’t get well no more.” (I understand that the blues is making a comeback. I wonder why.)

I’d like to clear up one more thing. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that the Republican Party had become the Party of Dumb. Many people objected to that. (Two-thirds of them Republican, one-third dumb.)

Let me say right now that I never intended to imply that all Republicans are dumb. Some of my best friends are Republicans and I know of many, many others (in the low two figures) who are of average intelligence or better. I merely meant that the Republican Party, over the years, has crafted its message to appeal mainly to the dumb, ignorant and uninformed. If you are a smart Republican, you have a quarrel with your party, not me.
I hope that makes things better.

I have to go now, dinnertime. We’re having game hen leftovers with A LOT of cranberry sauce.
Happy Holidays.

Donald Kaul is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-losing Washington correspondent who, by his own account, is right more than he’s wrong. Email: Distributed by

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