Sunday, January 17, 2010
This week we will be looking at a series of pictures from the American Dust Bowl. I found some pictures I had not seen before, and thought I would feature them this week. The picture above was taken in 1935 and shows a destitute family at a relocation camp in California.
It is amazing to me how we appear to have forgotten the lessons of the Great Depression. In the business class I teach, I am trying to teach to students about investing. On the first day of class, I set each student up with a stock brokerage account. The account works exactly like an etrade or ameritrade account, only they are investing "play" money. Each student is given $100,000 in the account. At the start of each class period, while I am doing roll, the students research companies, and then buy or sell stocks. There is a master page, where they can compare how they are doing vs. the other students. As the year goes on, I get into all the details of investing; picking companies, reading balance sheets, understanding earnings reports and so forth. This week, we were talking about how different things would affect the market. As a whole, the class felt the economy would probably be getting worse before it gets better. We then discussed companies that might do well in a sinking economy. Walmart came up as a company that might do relatively well if things were tough in the economy. I then made the point that if things were tough, it would be more likely that someone would buy a $15 pair of jeans at walmart, than a $150 pair of jeans at Aeropostale. At this point one student said, "I would never wear Walmart jeans". I tried to explain that conditions could dictate that . . . for example, if a family member lost a job. The response was that under no circumstances would they wear Walmart jeans. The other students jumped in, agreeing that there would never be any circumstances under which they would be caught dead in Walmart jeans. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to make them see that not only could conditions arise in which you would wear Walmart jeans, but they might be such that you felt lucky to have pants at all. While I really have a good group of students this year, even with them, I was unable to make them see that designer jeans were not an inalienable right.