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I’m a Jolly Banker, song by Woody Guthrie

You can see an interesting similarity between the onset of the Great Depression and the Great Recession, and what happened after the onset. In both cases, financial fraud brought calamity to many people. Banks failed due to their own recklessness and negligence. They did not keep faith with their customers.

Then institutions – the ones that owned mortgages after the initial crisis – foreclosed ruthlessly on victims of the crisis, people who could not pay because due to the calamity the financial institutions had brought about. We may have inflated our assets to get people to invest, but now the cat is out and no one trusts anything we do, “We’re going to take your homes. They may not be worth a lot, but you haven’t lived up to the terms of the contract, so I’m sorry.”

In both cases, the financiers – jolly bankers – play you, then slay you. If you want to know why the suicide rate remains so high, why so many die of opiates each week, why so many turn for hope to a person like Donald Trump, look for roots in the Great Recession. You cannot hold bankers solely responsible for these phenomena, of course, but the Great Recession might be called the Great Disorientation: a time when people and communities completely lost their way.

We have not taken the measure of this social and economic disaster. It started twelve years ago, but its effects have lasted far beyond the time economists and statisticians declared it over.


Ten years ago, funds allocated from the U. S. Treasury for the Troubled Assets Relief Program flowed to banks to keep them afloat.