History doesn’t repeat, it rhymes

This post’s title paraphrases Mark Twain who once said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”  While our current Great Recession echoes the story of the Great Depression, it is not a case of those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.  It is too easy to draw analogies between these two economic storms, but one storm has already passed into history, while the other still rages on.  There is an element of Schadenfreude when people delight in the expectation that the current misery will only get worse. 

Saint Louis was a miserable place to be during the Great Depression.  Like Detroit then and now, Saint Louis’ then heavy dependence upon manufacturing led to crushing unemployment during the Great Depression.  The surrounding countryside fared no better as crop prices crashed with the rest of the economy.  Once given the epitaph, “First in booze, first in shoes and last in the American League”, Prohibition struck out the booze; the Great Depression told the shoes to take a hike and Saint Louis was left with just last in the American League.

A silver lining for Saint Louis from the Great Depression was an improvement in air quality.  Before the depression, in 1924, Shaw’s Gardens installed a “smoke detector”, to measure air quality.  In the 1920s their collection of the finest evergreens in the United States was dying off due to the coal smoke of industrial Saint Louis.  The Gardens calculated that the average Saint Louisan was inhaling the equivalent of three tablespoons of soot every day.  This amount declined after 1929.  The Gardens then newly purchased Grey Summit property eventually languished, as gardening became sustainable in the city.

So how will this rhyme scan?  Only time will tell for sure.  Elliot Waves may lap upon the shores of America, but their foundations represent the shakiest of statistical paradigms.  I have no confidence factor in them.  I ask anyone who can predict the future, why are you reading this blog anyway?  The future is not written, times may get worse, but I believe that times will get better. 

Why is that my belief?  I trust in man because I am one.  I trust in God, because I must.  I trust in the future, because I can’t stay in bed all day.  Even a bear in the woods can sometimes see the light. 

A bear was taking a dump when a rabbit ambled up, chewing on soft grass.  The bear asked the rabbit, “Do you ever have a problem with shit sticking to your fur?”  The rabbit thought for a moment and answered no.  The bear then picked up the rabbit and wiped its butt with it.  Schadenfreude.

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