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Cary Brunswick

April 11, 2009

Use caution instead of credit cards

Do you realize that now there's double-digit unemployment in this area to go along with the longtime poverty rate in double figures?

I ask only because it isn't obvious when you're out and about that we're in a depression and hundreds of local residents have lost their jobs and are struggling.

Numbers don't usually lie, so we can take it as fact that numerous area firms have laid people off, ordered furloughs, wage freezes or pay cuts, depending on company needs.

So, when you drive by the mall on Southside on a Saturday afternoon, you wouldn't expect to experience a traffic jam and stuffed parking lot.

Downtown, which has had its ups and downs for years, doesn't seem to be suffering through a major recession _ just a cyclical downturn, perhaps.

Maybe we're too accustomed to seeing photographs and films of the Great Depression, with its staggering soup lines and homeless camps.

But we know most people don't have as much money to spend on things _ especially the big-ticket items _ or the economy wouldn't be in such a slowdown. Car dealers and automakers are hurting; manufacturing plants have idled or downshifted because there isn't the demand for goods or parts from consumers and business customers.

It's clear, however, that many people already have a lot of things, which is why their lives can go on relatively unscathed in the middle of an economic crisis. Our economic system is based on the constant production, importing and buying of newer styles and versions of all those things, even though people already have a lot them.

We shouldn't ignore the people who are vitally affected by the depression, because the increased demand at area food banks and meal sites has been documented for a couple of years now. It began long before the word "recession" was uttered and postdated in Washington.

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Cary Brunswick

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