The expanding Main Street Depression in the US is now accelerating, and in absolute terms, the level of human suffering reached to date surpasses that of the Great Depression of the 1930's. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 15.1 million Americans were unemployed as of July 2010. In contrast, 12.8 million Americans were unemployed at the peak of the Great Depression in 1933.
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I personally refuse to marginalize human suffering using ratio analysis, and I would urge our fiscal and monetary policy-makers to do the same. When historians study wars, they count casualties in absolute numbers of souls rather than as percentages of some given population. Likewise, economists must learn to study depressions using the absolute numbers of people effected. The Main Street Depression now imploding America is a horrific event in our nation's history that needs to be understood in absolute terms and numbers that make it real rather than abstract. Said another way, economists must learn that human suffering is absolute.
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