Monday, October 24, 2011

I'll give you such a pinch!

The last book I read was Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It, by Don Peck. Like most things being written about the current state of the economy, it's a bit depressing, but fascinating and important. The book opens up with a look back at other economic downturns in American history. I enjoyed the fact that when trying to put the Great Recession into a historical context Peck spent time not only on the Great Depression, but also on the Panic of 1893 and the stagflation of the 1970's. (I tend to think we could stand to see more comparisons to 1893 in the press, I would've bought this book out if only for that section!)

Since my other job is at a federal budget research group, I find myself surrounded with statistics detailing exactly how bad our economy is on a daily basis. While the statistics Peck points out are terrifying, I was more interested in the stuff I don't see every day, which was the psychological effects of recession and unemployment. Taking a look at what recession does to people's values explains a lot about some trends we see in politics today, with people more interested in immigration issues and less willing to have government money go to programs that help the poor. In a way it's almost comforting to step back and think about this trend of people becoming more self-interested as part of the normal life cycle of a recession.

The other part of the book I found fascinating was when he took a look at what effect the recession has had (and will have) on different age groups. I can't speak for anyone other than myself, but I had a bit of a rude awakening when reading the section on my age group, those just out of college. I was reading about the ways the recession has changed the way "millennials" think, and of course believing that the downturn hadn't significantly changed my thoughts on my future career. Of course I realized that I was in deep denial and now value job security over my past plans of moving to another city and making a brand new start. I'm not sure if you'll have the same sort of revelation while reading Pinched, but it definitely prompted some soul-searching on my end.

It's not too long, so it doesn't go as far into depth as some subjects deserve, but the book probably would be unbearably long if it did. If you're looking for more about how exactly the Great Recession came to be, I would suggest 13 Bankers. Anyways, if you're looking for a nice overview of our economic situation, this is it. Enjoy!



Royn-Ber Wendjaifa said...

When the statistics lie about all the lies...celebrate!

Julie said...

I love your blog! Thank you for the comment. And I'm glad to know somebody else out there reads Harry Potter fan-fiction.

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Thanks, Julie. But I think maybe you meant to leave that comment on Emily Crowe's personal blog, where she frequently waxes about the joys of Harry Potter fanfiction. This is the blog for her bookstore where she also posts.