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Watching the Dinosaurs Fall

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Message David Cox

The motivation for this comes from an article written by Martin Wolf of the Financial Times and he told the truth, mainly. I won’t dispute a single fact or figure but in his article, “America’s economy risks mother of all meltdowns” he comes to us as a prognosticator, predicting the future of the things that will be.

He wants to be the ghost of Christmas future when in fact he is the ghost of Christmas present. Come then, touch the hem of my raiment, let me take you to the far away land of Atlanta. Once the fastest growing city in America and then on to Cobb County the fastest growing county in America. Money once flowed in the streets, jobs were once plentiful. No one dared stand at the interstate exits with signs saying, “Will work for food? For they would have been picked up and put to work almost immediately.

Look now as the mist clears, before us, a brand new shopping development, finished in September 2007 all 14 units stand empty. Five months and not one unit rented, maybe it was the demise of the Ford assembly plant or maybe it was the demise of the Chevrolet assembly plant. Maybe it’s the doubling of the price of fuel because government figures explain to us that unemployment has moved almost imperceptibly to a moderate 5%.

Like Scrooge they ignore Tiny Tin’s limp and crutch, but the truth is that they measure with a fisherman’s ruler. If they admit to 5 its more like 10 and probably more like 15%. They have more ways to explain away unemployment than Marley’s ghost’s chain has links. The Ford and Chevy workers aren’t unemployed at all they’re just laid off from factories permanently padlocked. When their unemployment benefits run out they will become discouraged workers, dropped from the ranks of unemployment figures graduating on to stealth workers category, there but not counted.

Then of course the thousands of students graduating form Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern and a host of other schools that aren’t unemployed either, they can’t be, it’s not possible! According to government rules, you must first have a job before you can be counted among the unemployed. Such scheming and planning warms Scoorge’s heart more than a lump of coal in the stove.

The government figures project 4 million American homeowners will be ejected out into the street from last year until the end of this year. Yet the pundit’s predict that we have only seen the first half of the mortgage woes, these specters will not be removed from our eyes despite our pleas to the spirits, 200,000 in Georgia alone. Will Rogers observed during the last great depression that “American’s were the first people in history to drive to the poor house in a new car.” Today American’s will be the first people in history thrown from their new homes and out into the street by the millions because of 5% unemployment. All while the brand new shopping centers stand idle, just down the road they’ve broken ground on another new one. Just down the road from that one another one still, catty corner from where they are breaking ground today the new shopping center that was completed in December also stands idle.

Now the fella that prints up the For Sale signs, he is doing quite well. Likewise the repo tow truck drivers, as they complain of over work. Collection agencies are hiring for all shifts “Must be able to squeeze blood from a stone.” Credit card defaults rates are nearing all time highs, as are car loans, but why spirit? Are these things that must be? Is there no other way? Craig’s list in Atlanta advertises for foreclosure movers, talk about your tough jobs! I had a friend that took a job in a slaughterhouse once, “You get used to the sights but you never get over the smell” he advised. If I were foreclosure mover I doubt that I could get used to either one.

How the world changes at 5% unemployment, derelict shopping centers both old and new, empty houses, for sale and for rent. Tell me spirit, where did all those people go? The answer was drown out by the roar of the giant mechanical dinosaurs pawing up the ground, the gnashing of their mechanical teeth, the ripping of greenery from red clay. They pause, but only momentarily to look upon the dark clouds as they begin to obscure the sun’s rays.

They were stupid beasts that had grown fat and lazy on the luxuriant environment. It was beyond their capacity to adapt or change, they could only do the things that dinosaurs do, gnash at the trees and paw at the Earth. They couldn’t conceive of a meteor bringing their world to an end. It couldn’t, they protest acknowledging, well, maybe 5%, maybe. They would watch the horizon just to be on the safe side looking for the meteor that has already struck.

The simple mindedness of the prognosticators who ignore the meteor because it didn’t land in their back yard. But to millions of Americans who have lost good paying, insurance providing, retirement enabling jobs they’ve felt the blast and been burnt by the heat. The foliage has fallen from their trees and they struggle just to survive. Living on the roughage of dollar store jobs and moving with the heard for protection.

For myself as well, I can see only Cobb County once the fastest growing county in America and the city of Atlanta once one of the fastest growing cities in America. I see the setting in of decay and rot of empty storefronts and home foreclosure signs, empty car lots next to glittering new empty shopping centers with signs advising, “Space Available” But it is the hollow hungry dinosaur’s last roar, more a plea than a threat. But today as I drove by something new, blue and white pennants flutter across the sky! Advertising for a new subdivision being built behind the empty abandoned glittering new shopping center.

Ignorant of its own certain and eventual environmental obsolescence it lays eggs.

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I was born and raised in Chicago in a liberal Democratic home my Grandfather was a labor union organizer my Father a Democratic district committeeman my Mother was an election judge. My earliest memories were of passing out Kennedy yard signs from (more...)
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