A Great Depression or a mild case of the blues?

A British newspaper has a frontpage story proclaiming, with some glee, that the United States has entered a new Great Depression.

This is a silly exaggeration, it seems to me. (The paper bases its conclusion on a small uptick of the number of Americans on foodstamps, which was primarily caused, the paper itself admits, by an advertising effort to get eligible people to sign up for them!) But certainly many Americans are going through hard times. I read somewhere that, though by most measures the economy has been booming, the soaring prices of food and fuel have hit average families really hard, impacting them in concrete ways and making them feel the pain despite what the abstract overall numbers say. Now the big financiers are also feeling the hurt.

I worry about the economy, but I also worry about what seem like draconian plans for the government to regulate it all. (If you really want to get scared, read this, about how the Fed is studying how the Nordic states nationalized their banks.) It is as if free markets are fine as long as everybody is making money, but once the free market creates its losers, as it has to, politicians become Keynsians again. Imagine, with this going on in a Republican administration, what a Democratic victory will do. Statist liberalism will be back. With a vengeance. And might socialism come back into vogue?

Or do I overstate the case? Are we depressed over a Depression, or do we just have the blues?

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