Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, August 05, 2011

In 1937 the US was a few years past the Great Depression. Unemployment was still around 15%, but profits and production had recovered to 1929 pre-crash levels. When some of FDR’s advisors convinced him that it was time to balance the federal budget, the ensuing recession cut industrial production by 30% and raised the unemployment rate back to 19%. Economic growth didn’t resume until FDR sent Congress a massive new spending program 15 months later. Even then, employment didn’t recover until WW2’s epic economic stimulus.

In 2011 the US is technically a couple of years past the Great Recession (although it doesn’t feel that way to the working classes). Unemployment is officially 9.1%, but really closer to 16% if you count “discouraged workers” who’ve dropped out of the workforce or delayed their entry. Corporate profits and production have recovered, big business is flush with cash, and the rich own a record share of the national wealth while paying the lowest taxes ever – income inequality is higher today than it was before the 1929 crash. While the stock market nervously anticipates another recession, Congress caught an irrational deficit fever and passed an ill-timed austerity plan that’s likely to bring about another contraction. Let me be the first to dub it Great Recession II.

Read more about parallels with 1937 here

This time, instead of an FDR who’ll come to the rescue, our president is a tool of the ruling class; capitulation is his main negotiating technique. The rational policy right now would be to raise taxes on the rich and split the resulting windfall between jobs programs and deficit reduction. Instead, all we can expect – seemingly for the next 10 years -- is more budget cutting. I don’t see what could possibly turbocharge the US like a world war once did, even if we still had industrial might to mobilize. We’re already on a permanent war footing anyway; our obscene military budget is partly what got us into this mess in the first place. Plus world wars have a non-economic downside, what with all that nasty killing. 

As hopeless as our situation looks, things can change. In 2012 we might kick the tea partiers to the curb and restore rationality to our national budget. We are not necessarily doomed to permanent decline despite how our fate appears today.

What’s any of this got to do with Curio City? Beats me. My best year for growth was the crash year of 2008. Business has been strong for the past three weeks and that random act of media I told you about last week could save the year. It almost seems like my fortunes run opposite to the economy.
But Curio City was predicated on the reliability of impulsive American shoppers. It won’t earn me a decent living as long as they are fretting and scrimping. And this lousy economy just goes on, and on, and on….

Well. Surrender is not an option. The job market will not kindly welcome a 54-year-old white guy who’s been out of the mainstream workforce for six years. All I can do is keep plugging away.

I've said all this before, haven't I?


The Mason Jar Closed Spiral Necklace is sku 1000. It’s not technically my 1,000th product – I’ve had a few junk skus over the years – but close enough. It’s a milestone, anyway.

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