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Historical perspective on massive U.S. economic disasters: The Dust Bowl (inspired by post concerning how elites are affected differently than we "little people")
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Posted by: LateForLunch

11/18/2020, 10:56:42

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In the late 1930s- early '40s there was a disastrous "natural" catastrophe* when soil erosion combined with droughts caused massive amounts of topsoil on farms mostly in the Midwest to be destroyed.

The end result of this was that because of large banks unwillingness to extend credit to farmers in the effected areas, only large-cap companies who had cash reserves were able to afford the large machinery necessary to work the farms effectively.

Hundreds of thousands of small farms were snatched up by big corporations ( which of course made big contributions fo politicians) for pennies on the dollar while the former owners lost everything.

The net result of the catastrophe for BIG BUSINESS and GOVERNMENT was in many ways positive. Huge agricultural companies took over millions of acres of arable land from small private owners and made great profits in the ensuing years after the crisis had ended.

So the only group of people for whom the Dust Bowl was truly a catastrophe were the millions of farmers and their families who either died from illnesses related to the dust clouds, or lost everything and sank into poverty.

The U.S. government did NOTHING to assist the poor farmers who were driven off their lands and could not afford the expensive machinery to start over. The banks financed the sales of the capital equipment to the big companies and did fine economically after the depression.

World War Two started near the end of the crisis and the nation focused on other things - largely forgetting that the disaster had ever happened.

The reason I bring this up is that we need to remember that government sometimes doesn't view crises in the same way the people most-affected by it do.

Since banks, big business and the country overall recovered fine from the Dust Bowl disaster and there was little or no political blow-back from the voters on the issue little or nothing was done to ameliorate the losses and suffering of the families and small farmers affected. They were not considered important enough to get the government's attention.

There is a cautionary tale there for all of us in this time of plague. The China Virus is affecting those of us in the general population far worse than it is affecting either government or big business - to there is little incentive for politicians to do anything to significantly help those who have been harmed the most by the Plague.

The Stock Market is "adjusting" and in many cases BOOMING because so much of the market for revenue is being absorbed by large-cap companies who have the financial resources to weather the storm. The federal, state and local governments are still harvesting tax revenue from the economy, so they aren't affected as badly either.

Just as in the Dust Bowl, the Americans being affected the worst are small business owners and their families. As far as I can see, little has been done to help them to survive and return to normal after the Plague Crisis ends.

Somehow that does not seem to be very egalitarian.

* The term "natural catastrophe" was noted because the cause of the soil erosion was believed to be mostly caused by improper farming techniques that included the removal or lack of wind breaks and also the destruction of vast areas of non-productive ground cover over large area which prevented the soil from retaining moisture or staying in place. So it was not Nature alone (drought) but also human ignorance that caused the destruction of the farms.

Modified by LateForLunch at Wed, Nov 18, 2020, 11:07:04

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