Thursday, March 31, 2011

The New Great Depression

Last year I warned of a new Great Depression that is rapidly approaching. The naysayers probably laughed because, as we all "know", we're not in a depression - yet. However, 1929 and 1930 didn't seem like the beginners of a depression, but historians now consider 1929 to be the start of it. I think future historians will consider 2007 to be the start of the new Great Depression. We're actually in worse shape today than in 1929. Debt levels are higher and more governments, businesses and people are on the brink of defaulting than ever before. Even some American politicians are now warning of a financial Armaggedon. It's like a ship, that on the surface, seems okay, but deep in the hull water is slowly leaking in. Eventually it becomes obvious to all that the ship is in very serious trouble. So how does it affect us as writers? For starters anyone who writes for American markets can expect their incomes to drop drastically. There are plans to replace the American dollar as the reserve currency of the world. If that happens the American dollar sinks immediately. I think the Canadian dollar could go as high as at least $1.50 and quite possibly to $2.50 American. Companies will go bankrupt, which means the loss of markets. Financial insitutions will close, which means loss of money and credit. Governments will introduce drastic cuts in services and assistance, which may not be liked, but are necessary. Extremism is increasing. Some have noticed a rise in anti-unionism, which is a symptom of the coming depression. Any investments you hold could either become worthless or increase in value depending on what they are. For example the bonds of companies and governments that default would go to zero or, at best, be worth only pennies on the dollar. At the bottom of a depression, if you still have money, you can make money by buying stocks, bonds and realestate at bargin basement prices. That would be a good time to start a business as prices are low. In the meantime, if you haven't already done so, cut expenses and reduce debt. Don't get into any new debt. Look for companies that are likely to survive and thrive during bad times. Finally get out of risky investments and end your relationships with companies and governments that are likely to go under.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


A post on the Online Journalism Blog and interview with David Weinberger raised an interesting question - Objectivity Has Changed - Why Hasn't Journalism?

I agree with the premise "that sustaining the appearance of objectivity is unfeasible and unstainable, and that transparency is a much more realistic aim." One can argue that there has never really been objective journalism.

As a Great Lakes marine historian I'm aware of the changes in journalism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Traditionally in newspapers there has been a conservative paper, a liberal paper and sometimes even a socialist paper. When you read a particular paper you knew you were reading a particular bias.

Toronto, where the tradition lives on, has four major newspapers: the National Post is very conservative, the Globe & Mail is right of center, the Toronto Star is left of center and the Toronto Sun is very liberal. This has carried on into t. v.: think of Fox News for example, which is very conservative.

And it's not just in the particular culture of an organization, but also in how news is chosen and what views get aired. For example the local Toronto station of CTV recently aired a story about people complaining on the higher price of gas. The underlying bias was that higher prices are bad and lower prices are good. They didn`t explore the argument that higher gas prices might actually be good for people and the economy.

Objectivity was originally raised in a vain attempt to present both sides of the story, but sometimes there isn`t two or more sides. I have yet to hear anyone in the mainstream media argue, for example, that child abuse is really good for children. The assumption, and rightly so, is that it is bad.

This gets down to scrapping the farce that there is objectivity and instead focus on transparency so that your audience can make up their own mind about a particular story and why it was chosen over another one or over a different angle. It also offers your audience an opportunity to further explore a particular story even if they agree with it and your bias. This is what I was trying to get at in a previous post that compared Behind The Story with Washington Week.

I`ll return to this at a later time.