Sunday, May 3, 2015

Depression Era Family

The stock market crash in 1929 led to bank runs and bank holiday's shortly thereafter. The bottom line was a loss of liquidity. That is to say, people or businesses could not access their money, and could not access credit. Also, people who owed them money became unable to pay. This very quickly turned into an economic death spiral which affected everyone, not just those who owned stock. As businesses failed due to lack of liquidity, they could no longer employ people. As those people became unemployed, they could not buy things, and that lack of spending would lead other businesses to fail. Then finally you end up with large portions of the nation looking like the family above. It happened so quickly, and almost no one saw it coming. Notice the stark contrast between the picture above and the frivolity of last week's pictures from the 1920's. The scary thing to me is that we have forgotten the lessons of the 1920's, and we assume that something like this could never happen again in the US.


  1. During the Depression, many businesses tried to help their employees - and the general economy - by having people work three days a week, rather than five, and paying them accordingly. This system gave people money to spend on necessities, and helped keep other businesses running. Today, the attitude seems to be to just dump employees on the street, which helps no one.

    My mother's father worked every other week as a night watchman, for the princely sum of $17 per payday.

  2. What dignity in that woman's face, even given what circumstances had reduced her family to.

    My mother's father worked for a very compassionate man who called all his employees together, and told them that from that day on, each one was going to be paid the same wage, including himself. He had figured out an amount that would keep the business running, and that would allow each of them to more or less support their families. That way, he did not have to let anybody go. My grandfather, who had five children, was grateful to that boss as long as he lived. He and his family had to scrounge, but at least they had an income. All the children, now teenagers, got part time jobs after school to help out, and while they were poor, they managed. My father's father had been a civil engineer, but there were no construction jobs at all. He and my grandmother bought a Ma and Pa grocery store--people have to eat. They had a harder time, because people wanted to buy on credit, or on the barter system.