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February 10th, 2009

The Second Great Depression

On February 10, 2009 The Independent in the UK reported on a speech given by The Right Honorable Ed Balls, who has what it takes to use the word "depression."

He warned that events worldwide were moving at a "speed, pace and ferocity which none of us have seen before" and banks were losing cash on a "scale that nobody believed possible".

The minister stunned his audience at a Labour conference in Yorkshire by forecasting that times could be tougher than in the depression of the 1930s, when male unemployment in some cities reached 70 per cent. He also appeared to hint that the recession could play into the hands of the far right.

"The economy is going to define our politics in this region and in Britain in the next year, the next five years, the next 10 and even the next 15 years," Mr Balls said. "These are seismic events that are going to change the political landscape. I think this is a financial crisis more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s, and we all remember how the politics of that era were shaped by the economy."

Uh oh . . . somewhere out there, an author may be writing the successor to Mein Kampf. He (or she) might be in a cheap coffeehouse at a dark corner table hunched over a stolen laptop. (Women are not excluded, the great expansion of the British Empire happened under Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria. Indira Ghandhi, Golda Meyer, and Joan of Arc led their nations into war.)

Here are some friendly suggestions about writing. Make sure that the coffeehouse is warm, has a wall socket to plug in your laptop, and has a bathroom. Wireless Internet would help for quick fact-checking.

Here's your main theme: Your audience has seen a jillion movies where only one super-hero can save the Earth from (insert your favorite). You're the super-hero. You may want a pseudonym; Lenin and Stalin did not use the names on their birth certificates. If you were born as Norma Jean Mortenson, trade it in. It's more than a nom de plume; you need a nom de guerre.

Think about sports names. Although he won the Super Bowl playing with cracked ribs, the name "Benjamin Roethlisberger" sounds like a wimp. Larry Czonka and Bronco Nagurski had the consonants to play football.

Your book is your entry-level step on a global crusade. Don't worry about finding a publisher. Self-publishing and print-on-demand will earn you better royalties. Aim for 50,000 words; you can easily do 1000 words per day, 2000 when you are fired up. Outline it carefully and write to the outline; otherwise you waste hours wondering what to say next.

Your book establishes your position as An Important Figure. After the book comes out, you'll want to milk the viral advertising on the Internet. Instead of Lili Riefenstahl, you'll need someone who can churn out two-minute video clips.

All writers pretend that they have suffered. Even if you haven't been in prison, include some scary impressions about being waterboarded at Gitmo. Probably you should leave your sex life as a bit of mystery; although you could hint that you have the hots for Sarah Palin. The alternative is to be married to a gorgeous chunk of arm candy; the implication being that a sexy spouse is one of the rewards.

Now for the hard part: What's your message? "Savior of all mankind" is at the top of the list, but you need some specifics. I can't do your work for you, but here are some examples:

  • Don't blame the Jews. It's been done. That was so1930.
  • Try blaming geologists this time. Charles Darwin, a geologist, robbed us of our divine origins. Most geologists work for oil companies.
  • M. King Hubbert (geologist, Shell Oil) made a self-fulfilling prophesy. Once he convinced the geologists that there was little oil left, they drilled fewer and fewer wells.
  • You might also demonize people with French-sounding names. The French made a mess of West Africa.

A big selling point might be your claim to mixed ancestry. Tell them about hybrid vigor. After you seize power, then you can settle scores with bankers and economists. Your past record should be free of scandals. If you got a 14-year-old girl pregnant, you better settle for something other than Savior of the Universe. Be very careful about being labeled a "terrorist." Preach love and affection for everyone, except geologists, bankers, and economists.

There have been endless debates about the Nazi seizure of power in Germany. Did a few dedicated Nazis terrorize the larger population into submission? Were almost all Germans inherently evil? Probably neither is true. Although you will be building for a very different purpose, you might consider the "pyramid" construction. At the top, virtually all of us agree that Hitler was an undivided evil. Immediately below him were about 20 dedicated followers. Below that were hundreds of group leaders, some of them commanding paramilitary units. At the bottom was the general population, which did not have much choice in the matter after 1931. At some stage, you will have to start assembling your pyramid.

Here are some additional suggestions:

  • Another model that you might borrow is the success of US "megachurches." I've never been to one, but news reports imply that they usually offer a mix of a feelgood, entertainment, and drama. It sells, and for you it's a better cover story than hatred.
  • You will have to choose between a national message and a global message. If you go global, remember that the world contains lots of Moslems. You might embrace the Moslem laws on banking, and later use them to fry the bankers who foreclosed on your house.
  • A major message could be having the oil income in places like Gabon, Qatar, and Angola trickle down to the ordinary people. A more dramatic move would be taking over the core of the Middle East oilfields "in the name of all mankind."
  • You could avoid dealing with climate change by hinting at conspiracy. Alternative fuels have only raised the price of corn tortillas in Mexico and beer in Germany.
  • Health care will improve after you expand medical-school enrollment to generate six percent unemployment amongst MDs.
  • We won't travel much; most education will come over the Internet. Guess who is going to be in charge of the Internet?
  • Borrow from Mao Tse-Tung and put all the former bankers and MBAs to cutting weeds in the fields using short-handle hoes. "Stoop labor" it's called.
  • We'll probably all be resorting to back-yard gardening soon. Instead of the "Victory Gardens" of World War II, you should try to put your name on the gardens.

Of course, I'm not wishing you good luck with your book, or with your global conquest. I simply didn't want you to get hung up over the mechanics. And don't try to live on coffeehouse coffee and rolls smuggled in your jacket pocket. You'll get a vitamin deficiency.

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