New York Times Parties 'Like It's 1929'

     It’s 2008. More than 80 percent of Americans have cell phones; many others have video game consoles, and the iPod is seemingly ubiquitous.


     Yet the news media insist that America is embroiled in a second Great Depression, conjuring up images of bread lines and widespread suffering.


     The New York Times style section pushed the threat of Depression Nov. 30 with an enormous green headline that took up nearly half of the section’s front page. It screamed, “THE HOLIDAYS DOWNSIZED,” above two stories: “No Job and Fewer Gifts” and “We’re Going to Party Like It’s 1929.”


     “Party Like It’s 1929” followed an event planner challenged to throw a holiday dinner party “on a recessionary budget,” instead of a typical lavish Manhattan event. That budget was $30 per head, or about $240 total. The outcome was a lovely party certainly more sumptuous than a Depression-era get together.


     But the Times wasn’t alone. In her Nov. 28 op-ed, Hearst Newspaper columnist Helen Thomas declared that the country is in a depression.


     “Few prominent economists will say it, but to me it looks and feels like we are in another Great Depression or a reasonable facsimile,” Thomas said. “The current meltdown is dubbed a ‘financial crisis.’ But a rose by any other name would still inflict the same hardship and suffering on most people and businesses.”


     Thomas is right that some are facing hardship, but the suffering facing Americans right now cannot begin to compare to the devastation of the Depression. For example, unemployment climbed to 6.5 percent in October. At the height of the Depression it was 25 percent.


     Despite Thomas’ personal feeling that this is a Depression, many economists disagree, including Lakshman Achuthan of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, Arnold Kling an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, and even liberal economist Paul Krugman of the New York Times.


     According to, Krugman wrote, “The world economy is not in depression,” in his newly reissued book “The Return of Depression Economics.” But that hasn’t stopped Krugman from promoting a new, New Deal to solve the crisis.


     The news media have been obsessed with the Great Depression throughout 2008. ABC, CBS and NBC compared the current economy to the Depression 70 times in the first six months of 2008 and another 157 times since July 1. Print and online media also made many comparisons.