9/26/2008

The Depression: Things I Remember from Grandpa


With the collapse of investment bankers Lehman Brothers, bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, bailout of AIG and others and Wall St. on the skids, one has to believe these are perilous economic times in this country. On top of all this, the FDIC, which insures all bank deposits up to $100,000, is in deep trouble. It was reported yesterday the FDIC may need an additional $150 billion dollars because of banks failing at an alarming rate.

I don’t pretend to be an economic guru. But, it seems it is taxpayer money going to bailout people who have made bad loans or investments, such as the sub-prime mortgage loans that started this entire economic downturn. The next thing you hear, entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security payments are going to be drastically cut back. This is something I fear the feds are not telling us.

It all brings back to the things I remember from my grandpa who lived through “The Great Depression.” It just so happened his closest friend was in New York City on October 29, 1929 when the stock market crashed and burned. He saw a man and woman jump from the top of a five story building holding hands. These were the times of soup kitchens, bread lines, vendors selling apples, people riding the rails looking for work and being turned away by police. Grandpa eventually got a job at a slaughter house working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week…and happy to get it also. But, he never ate meat again after that experience. People lost everything they had because of banks. You were lucky to get $.10 on the dollar of your account in those days. My grandpa didn’t have much in the bank. But, he lost almost all he had. To his dying day, he hated banks. He never opened another account after they cheated him out of 90% of his money. In those days, people saved everything. Nothing was wasted. Food was scarce, jobs were even scarcer and people lost their homes and everything they had in them to the banks. Mama was too young to remember much about The Great Depression since she was born in 1932. But, grandpa talked about it and openly wept as he spoke about those terrible times.

I don’t think we are headed toward another depression. But, I can’t say for sure we aren’t. I don’t think anyone can say for certain either way. However, if you do have a lot of money in savings and checking, I suggest you keep an eye on what happens with the FDIC. In fact, keep BOTH eyes on the FDIC.

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