Ground Reports from the “Depression that Shall Not Be Named” — things we notice that the corrupt media won’t report that show this is indeed a Depression
On my desk, just under the computer monitor, I have a little box full of slips of scrap paper. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid because the nuns who taught me in Catholic School refused to ever waste paper. Anything that comes into my home that’s blank on one side and has outlived its usefulness is drawn and quartered and spends some time as scrap paper in that little box for a while before it goes anywhere near the trash bin. When I get ideas for stories or someone tells me something that’s happened to him or her, I jot it down on these slips and then tack them up on the cork boards around my desk until I have time and a better idea of how I want to communicate that information to you on this site. Often, these slips sit there for a while because there’s not enough there for a big post in itself. Today I’m cobbling a few of them together into a Ground Report for Illinois that deals with some of the things I notice that make me conclude that — YES — we are most certainly in an economic Depression regardless of what the corrupt media is telling you. This is the “Depression that Shall Not Be Named” because Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper and the rest of the pro-Obama talking heads keep using magic tricks and diversion to obscure this “invisible” Depression for as long as Barack Obama is in office. In their role as the Obama Palace Guard, they are better than David Copperfield, Doug Henning, or Siegfried & Roy ever were on the stage…or the Deatheaters were in all those Harry Potter books.
I invite you to share anything that YOU see in your own home towns that leads you to believe we are in an economic Depression, regardless of what the “news” is calling the current economy under Barack Obama. Here are a few of my observations:
* Storefronts are empty and long-abandoned in the fanciest buildings in Chicago downtown in the Loop, and that’s never happened before. While shops fail, they are usually replaced immediately by something else. I’ve never seen empty stores on Michigan Avenue or entire buildings completely vacant in Chicago. This is the kind of thing that was common in Cleveland in the 80s and 90s, but never in Chicago. When I moved here in 2005 or so, I was amazed by the fact that so little was ever empty or boarded up in this town because I grew up in an economically depressed city where this was common. Chicagoans are now experiencing this sort of thing. That can’t be good, folks. Entire shopping malls downtown have been failing…and these were the luxurious “vertical malls” that travel brochures used to brag about when it came to “shopping on the Magnificent Mile”. There is no mention of coming to Chicago to shop anymore in any of the Convention & Visitors’ Bureau material that I’ve seen in the last year or so…though there has been an ever-more-desperate push to bring in tourist dollars. Something is definitely wrong.
* I have a friend who used to be a realtor, with her own business. She had a beautiful two bedroom apartment near Boystown in a historic building that she owned, where she lived with her dog. Since Obama was elected, the woman lost her business and had to take a job as a cashier at Target just to keep the lights on. She had to sell off a lot of her designer clothes on eBay to buy money for food. Then she had to get rid of her dog, because she couldn’t afford to feed him and pay all her bills. Next, she had to move out of her apartment and take the extra room at her mom’s place because she needed to rent out the home she owned so that the rent money would pay the mortgage. She’s 37 and would have been homeless if not for her mother. Her tenants are frequently late with their rent because the husband in that couple lost his job and has not been able to find a new one.
* My boyfriend Justin plays this online video game with something to do with Star Wars. He started playing a year or so ago, when we were just starting to date and he explained how the game works to me: you pay a monthly subscription and get access to the game, which was originally hosted on 200 servers. You can create characters on a server you pick and interact with other players who are running around in this virtual world. In the time I’ve known Justin, that game has had to shrink from 200 servers down to just 10 because they keep losing subscribers. The game is impressive-looking, but people can’t afford to continue paying the membership forever. They’re about to eliminate more servers and rework the game into a free version that would just require purchases of special weapons and gear to play at a higher level. Star Wars fans are rabid and live and breathe this stuff, so if a Star Wars game is failing like this…then something is seriously wrong.
* A friend of mine is a recruiter/membership coordinator for a high-end gym. People are missing their payments and dropping their memberships like crazy in Chicago. The gym recently had to run an incentive for new members where if you sign up they’d reimburse your “joining fee” of $160 if you’d use the gym 80 times or so in the next 90 days. I’ve never seen this gym chain ever give any sort of breaks like this. Those joining fees were always nonrefundable and non-waivable. They are hurting for business so bad that they have to use desperate measures to recruit people.
* Another friend in New York just got married. She bought her dress on eBay. The day after the wedding, she put the dress up for sale on eBay. She essentially rented her wedding dress because she could not afford to buy one and then she recycled it to someone else.
* Consignment shops in Chicago are so flush with goods from people trying to sell their designer clothes that some won’t even take anymore product from people hoping to sell things.
* Coffee shops are closing. Not the big Starbucks ones and not Caribou, but the local ones, the mom & pops, and the limited area chains. I noticed one downtown that had actually just opened about a year or so ago (can’t think of the name) when it replaced the Ethel’s Chocolate Shop/Coffee Bar in the mall next to the Marriott on Michigan Avenue; and now that place is gone too, despite being in a busy area right next to a giant hotel and on Michigan Avenue.
* There is a real sense of desperation from anyone who works on commission whenever I go into a store. They really are laying on hard-sells, when before they were more laid back.
* It’s easy to walk into any restaurant in Chicago now, when they used to be packed. Places you’d never get a table now need no reservations and bars that used to be jumping 7 nights a week are now only busy on Friday and Saturday.
* At the grocery store I go to there’s a customer service stand at the front by the registers; this is where I buy my bus passes. When I’m waiting in line, I can’t help but watch people checking out and I see almost every other person using a purple and yellow Illinois EBT card. ALL kinds of people are using these now. There is a look of shame and embarrassment from most of them as they swipe their cards, too. This particular store makes someone who is using an EBT card announce it to the cashier, who has to push a special button to allow it as an EBT transaction and the humiliation on some people’s faces as they have to tell the cashier they are using EBT is heartbreaking. It’s cruel the way this store has this set up.
* I’ve written about this before, but places that would always have tons of job openings have nothing these days. The universities around Chicago are a good example because they previously always had, at any given time, at least 100 active open positions on their online Jobs Boards. Now, when I check these listings there are maybe 5 to 10 jobs open and they are all for very specialized and highly-degreed fields like professor or Vice President of Development. There are no entry level or mid-management jobs to be had in Chicago at a university or nonprofit. The paid internships are also almost all gone. Unemployment here is much worse than the corrupt media will ever allow you to know. About a year ago, friends of mine who are head-hunters stopped asking me for leads for anyone I could think of to fill jobs they were looking for…they don’t need leads anymore because they have more jobseekers than open positions and there’s a glut of applicants at every skill level in the system. That has not happened before in all the years my friends have been head-hunters.
* The panhandlers are nastier and more aggressive than ever in Chicago. More plentiful too. Crime in Boystown is up with robberies, pickpocketing, and burglary common here now. All over Chicago, there is more violence as the unemployed and desperate resort to crime to survive.
* If you check Craigslist for Chicago, there are more people selling themselves for money than ever before. There is an explosion of male prostitution in this town. This is noticeable because while you’d often see female hookers here and there on the streets, now you see groups of 20-something blonde boy hustlers working the streets too…and not just in Boystown, but everywhere. They look like guys who could be college students but for whatever reason are on the street and selling themselves instead.
* The workers at Burger King and Dairy Queen have gotten a lot better looking and are often times English-speaking now, when in the past the fast food jobs were usually filled by low-lifes or Spanish-speakers in Chicago. Now, people who would have worked at Borders or Best Buy or something are now working at Burger King, which means that the people who would have gotten jobs at Burger King probably have no jobs now (since they were displaced by this other tier of people).
Are you noticing any of this where you live?
Chime in below in comments or send us a ground report on signs of the “Invisible Depression” — the Depression that Shall Not Be Named — via HillBuzz@gmail.com.
If you aren’t seeing anything like this, please tell us where you live because the lot of us need to move there by you.
© 2012, Kevin DuJan. All rights reserved.
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