Depression, bailout – box office thriller

For those of us “mature” enough to vividly remember the late 1970s gas crisis and lines of cars backed up for blocks to buy gas at the “service station,” those difficult times and others draw strong comparisons to this downright stinking recession.

As a 20-something aged lad I waited somewhat patiently inside my blaze orange-colored 1972 Chevy Rally Nova with its 350 cubic inch engine and white stripes down the sides to quench the petroleum thirst of my “muscle car,” only to find “Out of Gas” signs at some station entrances.

Over the decades strange times have enveloped our nation. Some in agriculture were thrilled when Jimmy Carter, a gosh-darn-it Georgia peanut farmer, landed the nation’s chief executive post. As a young agricultural journalist I was stunned that a farmer president would even consider a grain embargo as a weapon to make a political statement with Russia.

This all pales in comparison to the Great Depression in the 1930s, which forced the world’s No. 1 economic powerhouse down on its knees.

A ride in the time capsule catapults us to just a few months ago when our all-knowing U.S. government leaders proclaimed the U.S. was in a recession — a fact that every single American not planted 6 feet under already knew.

These are white knuckle, empty wallet, and desperate times as evidenced by recent U.S. unemployment figures at 8.5 percent and record home foreclosure rates. Once reliable 401 investments are now valued at half or less. Recent stock market gains and new housing starts in recent weeks offer encouragement.

The economic calamity gets stranger by the day amid near trillion dollar stimulus bailouts and possibly yet even more green for greedy automakers who have shamefully squandered money only to beg for more.

I covered agriculture for 25 years in the Midwest and some of my friends worked for the Big Three. A $60,000 per year paycheck 10 years ago to screw in bolts on a production line, all-employer-paid medical insurance premiums, and a month-plus paid vacation set the automakers up for a shameful downfall. The automakers brought on this mess and now have the gall to beg for another handout.

It’s incredible how politics has changed over the decades — from a farmer in the Oval Peanut to an African-American presidential family planting a garden on the White House lawn.

President Bush and some Republicans who touted cutting taxes while advocating smaller government have reversed course. President Obama, who pushed stimulus efforts to spur the economy, has vowed to halve the nation’s $1.6 billion deficit in four years. Yet his proposed 2010 fiscal-year budget of $3.7 trillion is a federal budget buster.

What’s downright scary is the Obama administration’s push to tighten its lips on the phraseology of the term “9-11,” the terrorist attack that killed almost 3,000 Americans.

To solve this nation’s woes a common sense approach is needed to end the “what’s in it for me” mentality. We need leadership, not political posturing. Common sense decisions are needed to bring solutions to our local and national woes — where a court decision on the Delta smelt doesn’t block providing water for millions of folks in Central and Southern California, and for a $32 billion agricultural industry that feeds and clothes a burgeoning world population.

Perhaps actor Harrison Ford who portrayed the gutsy and crafty U.S. president in the 1997 movie Air Force One should make a curtain call. Our country needs another Abraham Lincoln-type leader to save this country from its enemies, in too many cases ourselves.

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