The Panic Is On!
By Keith Johnson
What this country is coming to
I sure would like to know
If they don’t do something bye and bye
The rich will live and the poor will die
Doggone, I mean the panic is on!
As the Great Depression of the 1930’s was getting underway, President Herbert Hoover refused to acknowledge it. In the weeks following the events of Black Tuesday, Hoover called the economy “fundamentally sound.” Months later, he still insisted that the strength of the American economy was “unimpaired.” However, by 1931 he could no longer hide the truth. With the economy in shambles, Hoover was forced to declare that America was indeed in a ‘depression’. He chose the word ‘depression’ because he believed it to somewhat innocuous and far less provocative than terms like ‘panics’ or ‘crises’ that had previously been used to refer to significant economic downturns.
That same semantic game is being played on us today. What we now call a ‘recession’ is what was known as a ‘depression’ back in the 1930’s. As economist John Williams explains:
“The Great Depression was one that was so severe that in the post-World War II era, those looking at economic cycles tried to come up with a euphemism for “depression.” They didn’t want to create the image of or remind people of the 1930s. Basically, they called economic downturns recessions, and most people think of a depression now as a severe recession.”(1)