Roger L. Simon

What are your plans for the new Depression?

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking about laying in provisions for the coming Depression. (Selling my stock has already become irrelevant and, unlike others, I’m not planning to go John Galt. I’m just too instinctively entrepreneurial… too many years in Hollywood… for that. ).

Anyway, time to get to it because “time’s a-wasting.” According to James Pethokoukis in US News, the odds of a depression are already 40%. I think they may be bigger than that, but it’s all definitional, isn’t it? So time to get ready. One of the things I’m doing is reading Amity Shlaes’ The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression on my iPhone. (Yes, you read that correctly. It was either that or buy more bookshelves. I chose to download the new iPhone Kindle app and bought Shlaes’ book for $9.95 – I know, I’m already overspending, but, as an author, some things are sacred: meaning royalties.) Anyway, the book is terrific and, even though it must have been written before the arrival of the current administration, it contains many eerie and disturbing parallels between the mistakes of Hoover and Roosevelt and, now, Obama. What’s the old expression? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. What about fool me ten times?

In truth, I don’t have any plans. Like many of you, I assume, I had no real suspicion this would be coming – not in my lifetime anyway. Depressions were long gone, something that happened to my parents when they were young along with Prohibition and early Benny Goodman. And now to think my children may go through it in the prime of their lives. Well, it’s still nothing like fighting in World War II. I’m still a relative virgin.

But speaking of World War II, one of the most startling things I have read in the midst of all this madness is the story of a ninety-year old Madoff victim going back to work. This man has lived through the Great Depression and World War II. He, of all people, has a lot to tell us.