October 14, 2008
Windy and colder out today. Walked Peaches on a leash this morning and wore a jacket for the first time in a long time.
Last week, on a whim, I grabbed a book out of our library on the history of Searchlight, Nevada and took it home. Searchlight is not far from my hometown of Kingman and is often mentioned by the oldtimers in that area as a wild town (cowboy star Rex Bell—no relation—and his wife Clara Bow, the "It Girl" retired there). The other night I skimmed through it and landed on this:
"At the zenith of the boom in Searchlight the country was in the throes of a depression. The 'silent' panic began in March 1907, a period of economic decline marked by a drop in stock prices, high interest rates, bank closings, and even the failure of some stockborkerage firms. Speculators were wiped out by the thousands."
—author Harry Reid (who grew up in Searchlight and went on to become a congressman)
This got me to thinking. I've ran across many other financial crisis in my studies of the Old West. For example when cattle king Charles Goodnight got tired of the interest rates at his local bank he decided to start his own and almost immediately got wiped out by a financial meltdown in the 1880s. Several years later, the country suffered another one. After reading of this "silent panic" of 1907 that affected Searchlight it seems to me as if the boom and bust cycles of the past were more prevalent, and that after the crash of 1929, they have been artificially held at bay for the past decades, only to have a bigger bust hit us, because you can slow down the cycles and even avoid small collisions, but just like with penicillin, it works for a while, but the strains that inevitably get around it are nastier than anything before it.
On a related note, "In the last 80 years, America has experienced 13 economic recessions—and fought back with 13 economic expansions." This was in an ad for Merrill Lynch that ran Sunday in the New York Times, but I think it speaks to the regular cycle of these things.
Kathy and I went to see the movie American Carol on Sunday which was written and directed by David Zucker, of Airplane fame and the Naked Gun movies. Zucker is a good friend of Paul Hutton's and David has been advising us on the Mickey Free project. It's a conservative parody of left-wing documentary filmmaker Michael Moore (played by Chris Farley's brother in Carol). Kathy walked out ten minutes into it (she went into a neighboring theatre and watched The Dutchess). I stayed and laughed and actually cried at the end (not from her leaving, but for the Trace Atkins song about America).
"The future is a present give to us by the past."
—Old Vaquero Saying
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