Tag Archives: History

What Caused the Great Depression

Man is meant to learn from history or risk making the same mistakes, yet there still seems to be no general consensus on what exactly caused The Great Depression – the biggest market crash in history. Many have thrown around the term ‘depression’ to describe the recent financial crisis that has hit the world. The downgrade of credit rating for the United States of America, the Euro Zone Crisis and auxiliary problems are all swirling around the world today, but is it as bad as the Great Economic Depression of the 1930s and if so, why have we not learned from it. While we know for a fact that mitigating factors occurred, yet researchers still haven’t concisely linked them to The Great Depression; which was a big reason for the German rise of extremism which led to World War II. Facts about the Great Depression are measurable; let’s go over what they were.

Black Tuesday

Black Tuesday was a massive stock market crash that occurred on October 29th, 1929. To an economist it is a date of such tragedy that competes even with the sinking of the Titanic. Many however lump the American Great Depression in with Black Tuesday although perhaps the one contributed to the other existing. Two months after Black Tuesday, stockholders had lost $40 billion dollars which is more than the GDP of modern countries that exist even today. There was a slight rebound as things were getting better but it was too little too late and the world entered The Great Depression.

Breaking the Bank

They say you should never trust a banker, but at least we’ve got legal recourse against negligence these days. In the 1930s your savings were uninsured which meant if a bank failed, you lost all your money without compensation – about 9000 banks failed leading up to The Great Depression in America. This lead to less banks being brave enough to hand out loans; which only made things worse since less people were capable of creating expenditure. At the same time economic taxes were put in place to “protect” American companies from competing with European products. The act lead to almost zero imports and international economic retaliation against the States, perfect breeding ground during The Great Depression to drive things further into the dust.

The Dust Bowl

Proving that even Mother Nature steps into the picture to help the downfall of man, the vast amounts of drought that occurred in Mississippi Valley in 1930 caused many to be unable to pay their taxes or generate vital produce. Many farmers who were in debt had to sell their farms at no profit and so The Dust Bowl was born. There were a few other circumstances that bolstered the power of The Great Depression and although it was indeed a time of great depression for many poverty stricken families across the world, we must learn from our mistakes lest we make them again.

Eugene Calvini is a writer and forex market enthusiast; a proud owner of a forex account and a certified Metatrader 4 forex broker, he enjoys sharing interesting economic news.


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An Easy Life – Jennie Rasmussen

I almost like to think that I remember being born.  I like to think lots of things.  Mostly I get bothered by people who think they know everything, its irritatin’ to those of us who actually do.  My earliest real memories are of those cold mornings on the farm in Iowa.  The stove would go almost entirely out during the night, til paw got up and stoked the little pot belly in our sleepin’ room.  The flannel nighty pulled up around my neck as far as it would go barely made up for the fact that we was indoors and I could still see my breath.  By the time that sun come up we was thawed out enough to get dressed and start chores.  Only thing got me through the winter was the thoughts of summer and all them damned bugs.  Ain’t nuthin’ worse than sweating like a horse an havin’ a face full of skeeters and gnats.  An that was at night.  Harvest was the worst.  Pickin’ that damn corn till I swore that when I got out of there, there would, “never be an ear of corn in the same room with me again.” At least after the crops was in we got to go to school some.  Reverend Uhlig’s wife set up some desks and chairs in the basement of the church, and when the weather wasn’t too bad my little brother Bobby and I would borrow one of the good horses and go spend hours listening to stories, readin’s from the bible, and doin’ ‘rithmatic on the chalkboard.  Seemed like those years went by like decades.  Nothin’ much changed. There were the irrigation canals in the summer, but the water always melted right off ya and you was dry by the time you started to walk home.  Then you would be sweaty again. No, winter was better that way.  We could always find something to do to get warm, like milkin’ the cows, but there weren’t a damn thing to do in August and September to get cooled down.

We had us some good times tho.  Dad was the best fiddle player in all of Des Moines county; State of Iowa said so at the fair darn near every year (there was that one year that some Yahoo come up from Nashville and took it, but he weren’t no local boy).  There was foot stompin’ and dancing and an occasional sip of that corn whisky the Rasmussens used to brew up every payday.  Us kids never got involved in that much, specially after what we saw it did to the Eckhardt twins.  Mark got skunk drunk once he hitched up his plow and drove smack over the levee into the canal, damn near drowned the horse.  Took all the neighbors, three horses, and half a day to get it out, and the rest of the day to get it straightened out and set up again.

That weren’t the only excitement in Ames, tho.  On Friday nights me an the girls would sneak off with the Rasmussen’s and Eckhardt’s boys and go down to the stock yards to watch the pigs hump.  On a good night we could count ten or twelve of the lucky ones havin’ themselves a time. We left the whisky home, but there was usually a bottle of cider around, and we got just tipsy enough to laugh and joke and somehow pass the time.

I don’t remember those times ending, but damn if I didn’t find myself married to Art Rasmussen, all moved in an fixen’ to have us a family.  That was 1916.  God don’t always play fair.  In 1917, three years after Henry Ford started building cars in Highland Park, the US declared war on Germany.  To most Americans this was a very patriotic time, and the men of Iowa were no exception.  The only  hitch  was that Art and his family came over from Hamburg, and my parents still had kin in Frankfurt.  Actually lots of our friends and neighbors were of German descent. Sometimes these people were singled out for harsh treatment. Some were made to take a loyalty oath or to salute or even kiss the flag.  Schools did not allow their students to study no German. Things with German names got new names. “German measles” became “liberty measles” and “sauerkraut” became “liberty cabbage.”

It was war time, and the nation needed soldiers. Some Iowa men volunteered for patriotic reasons. Because the Army still needed more men, the government required all men between the ages of 18 and 45 to register at the county courthouse.  There would be 115,000 to go over and fight with the British and French, and Art was one of them.  He was shipped out with the 116th infantry division, but he had left behind a present.  I was pregnant.

Iowa was called on to provide corn, and hogs, and cattle for the war effort.  It was all I could do to tend our little “victory garden” and fend for ourselves.  Our first, a son Donald, was born the day after Christmas 1917.  In the fall of 1918, the Spanish Flu took Donald, along with 675,000 other Americans (ten times as many as died in the world war).  It wasn’t long after we buried Donald that Art came home from the war.  He had been one of the lucky ones and still had all his pieces.  That was good ‘cause we figured he’d need them all if we was to try again to start a family.

Judy was born nine months, three days, and two hours later.  We was hoping for another boy, but at this point we take what the good lord gives us; a healthy baby is good.  Gladys was born just about a year later, December 12th 1920.  The girls are bright and active, pretty as a picture, and we are so proud of them.  They play basket ball in high school, and both end up marryin soon after.  Gladys found herself a nice soldier, although when he came back from WWII things weren’t the same and they split up.  Judy married a real smart man, got to be the vice president of a big paper company.  Things was fine for several years, but the thing was, he was also a drunk.  They lived in Chicago, and Texas, had a nice little girl named Jody.  Dick took off after he found out that Judy had MS. There wasn’t much to treat it with back then, and being a drunk, I guess he just figured it was too much bother to watch his wife take 30 years to die.  Jody kep’ in touch with her mom best she could, but they lived in Chicago and she had started a new family of her own.

Gladys found herself a job and moved out to California.  She ended up findin’ herself a good man too, he drank some, but not like Dick.  His name was Francis, but he never did like that and went by the nickname “Buss.”  After they got established good, they sent for us and Art and I took the train out from Iowa.  That was the first time I saw little Stevie, Gladys’s son.

We had some real good years out there.  Art would spend hours and hours tellin’ stories and teachin’ little Stevie about carpentry.  We moved into an apartment complex in the city where Gladys lived, and was the managers in exchange for rent.  Art did all the fixin’, and Stevie helped.  It was a good time, and as pleasant as I can remember.  I wasn’t always happy, and when I was with the girls (Judy had moved out there to be with us) we mostly fought.  It was always little things, but I guess we was just too much alike.  Cats and dogs when we was together, then miss each other when we wasn’t.  We still managed to have some great camping trips and family times until Art had his stroke.  Glady’s husband was real good to us and bought us a house near to theirs.  We lasted there for a few years until it became too much for Art to maintain, and a real miracle had happened.

Next to where Gladys and Buss lived was an English Commodore.  Sir William Barton had just lost his wife, and was very close to Gladys and Buss. He had a nice old house with an extra bedroom and was kinda lonely. We talked a few times and ended up moving in with him right next to my daughter.  We had cut a gate through the back fence, and it was just like we all lived on the farm together for a while.  There were a few years there that were trouble free.  That will be what I remember later in my life as a period of Shangri-la.  We had BBQ’s in the summer time, gin and tonics on the porch, playing croquet on the fancy dichondra lawn Buss put in… the best of times.

It was a couple of years, but all good things came to a quick end. ‘Bout the same time Commodore Barton dropped dead of an aneurysm, Art went into the VA hospital and lasted a few months before he died, and Judy finally had to be put in a rest home for her MS.  I took an apartment downtown San Carlos and a job at a local clothing shop.  Things went on for a few years like that, then the next round.

Gladys’ husband got Alzheimer’s, she got cancer, and Judy got worse with her MS. Stevie graduated from college and came back home to help. Buss died then, and Gladys died a couple of years after that. I was left with one granddaughter in Chicago, a dying daughter in a rest home, and my grandson to take care of me.  He did the best he could, but had his own life and family.  They helped me with my apartment; I think he gave me $500 a month (from the inheritance from his mother) and we all just got by – somehow.  We wasn’t hurting, but we wasn’t rich.  Just minding our own business, getting by.  Stevie and that girl he married would come by and pick me up for dinner once a week. We’d spend holidays together, sometimes at their house (he got a big one when his parents died) and sometimes at my apartment, but always together.

Them people at the social security call me in and give me a “case” worker.  I aint no dam cow, need a “case” worker, but she asks all sort of questions:  how much is my rent, what do I spend on electricity, where is the other money coming from?  I tell her that Stevie helps me some, and we get by.  She tells me that it’s not legal for me to take any money from anybody else while the governments helping me, so to save money she’s gonna have me move out of my apartment into a government subsidized assisted living place that costs them twice as much.  Government nothin’ but a bunch ignert arseholes.

Hell, I don’t know a soul at this big ugly place, and its three cities away from the only kin I got left.  Stevie comes by and takes me out to dinner once a week. ‘Side from that I’m surrounded by dead people. Don’t know why I need to put up with this crap.  All them bossy old ladies playin’ cards and yackin’ away at themselves not saying a damn thing, bunch of dam old men sittin’ around in wheel chairs farting and drooling.  They can’t keep nuthin’ clean.  My back is so bent I’m leaning over like an ant-eater.  I guess it makes it easier to see all the shit all over on the ground.  They call it osteoporoses, but all I know is that my back is crookeder than a dogs hind leg, and this place smells like a big ol lye tank full of horse shit.

I guess I got a bit worked up, and had what they call a minor infarction, whatever the hell that is.  Now I got to go to Stanford and they want to cut me up and put a pig valve in my heart.  For God’s sake why?  I’m 87 years old and getting tired of all this shit anyway.  Just take me out and shoot me like some old dog!

When I wake up my chest is yellow and the room is fuzzy and spinning. There’s sheets on big metal poles around me, and all sort of machines buzzing and clicking.  They have tubes running out my nose and my arms and about everywhere but up my backside.  They tell me they’s taken me to another place to rest up after my surgery, a better place down closer to Stevie and that girl he married and their baby.  We  pull up in a place they call Los Altos, and it’s kind of nice.  They have trees, and grass, and real nurses to help you too.  Ain’t a soul sitting yapping at each other playin’ no cards, or those sick old men in jammies lining the halls.  I get to kind of settle into my own room, and it’s quiet and peaceful.

Days turn into weeks, and week’s months.  Most of the time I sit out by the old oak tree, soak in the sun, and remember.  The people here are good, and kind, and I like it here.  Most of my old friends have long since passed on, Eva Mitchell, Gladys, Buss, Art, Commodore Barton, but there are a few nice nurses, a couple of friendly orderlies, and the old geezer that reminds me of Lawrence Welk.

Its been a while since I’ve seen Stevie; he’s all busy with his new baby and family and I know he does the best he can.  He came over with that girl he married, their baby, a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps, and his buddy Paul.  I remember feeling peaceful, like everything is gonna be OK now.  Stevie even says something about kind of an “aura” around me, like it’s a halo. I’m wonderin how much of that Schnapps he and Paul have been into.  Its Christmas time now and the rest home is all lit up and decorated.  There’s the smell of cinnamon candles, and cookies in the air.  We had just had a good big dinner, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy – my favorites.  It reminds me of the old farm in Ames.

Stevie has always been a good piano player (got the genes from my pa) and they sit down and play all sorts of Christmas songs in the lobby.  They play Silent Night, What Child is This, Away in a Manger, all my favorites.  We all sing along together, though I forget most of the words. A few of the other inmates straggle in one by one and join us.   They put the baby in my lap and I laugh a little and hold it up over my head.  It makes me feel kinda peaceful that I have a great-granddaughter, and that life will go on.  Paul gives me a little snort of the peppermint schnapps – then another.  It reminds me of my daddy, of Frankfurt, and of what a life I have had.  It feels warm, and good, and I’m getting kinda tired now. I think it might be time for me to go home.

And she passed that night in her sleep.


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What Happened to our Yankee Spirit, and What Will You Leave Behind?

My good friend Missy just posted a few photos of what had happened to her old favorite “Brainard Pool” in Ohio.  She returned home to find it is now a bathhouse and splash park.  Under her FaceBook comments I read one of her friends comments: OMG! I heard the same thing happened to Quarry. 😦

Yesterday, riding back from the Giants game at AT&T Park ( which used to be  PacBell park, but at least it’s still there) I passed the Belmont theater.  God knows how many hundreds of hours I spent there as a kid.  It was where I had to watch for the first time some guy actually making out with a (yick) girl!  It is now a Planet Granite, whatever that is.  We continued on past Bruce Bower lumber, long since a vacant lot.  The train can be kind of a depressing, at least nostalgic.  Having grown up here, sitting on the upper deck allows me full view of El Camino Real (the main drag if you will) from my home town almost up to San Francisco.  It is amazing what a trip down memory lane that is.  Mile after mile of stores that are no more.  For some reason they actually swapped the locations of the Macy’s and Sears at Hillsdale shopping center.  That seemed odd to me, and for once it is fairly certain that this was not brought about by a senior moment, or alcohol induced Alzheimer’s.

This change is probably all for the best, and certainly unavoidable, but it does cause one to wonder just what it is that we are doing that will remain as our legacy.  Sales records, profits, successful product launches, all forms of recognized business success seem to pall under the harsh judge of father time.  Our best intentions and inventions seem to fall by the wayside as company after company fails or is acquired by a behemoth like Apple, Google, or Microsoft.  Our reputations are as good as gold, as long as we are in front of the right people.

Lately I have been digging into the old Ulrich family tree.  I was able to get lots of information on the family in old Russia, dating back to the  great great “whatever” being the right hand man to one of the Romanovs.  There is plenty of data on the Springfield Ulrich’s that were buddies with Abraham Lincoln while he was a budding attorney, then as president.  I was able to find the old town in Montana, “Two Dot” where my dad spent his childhood.  These places still exist.  That’s a good sign.

No wonder the Mormon’s refer to one’s children and grand-children as “posterity.”  When it comes right down to it that may be all we really have.  What kind of “posterity” are you building professionally?  Are you able to do something that you really love or are you just paying bills?  It seems that America was founded by people who had dreams and passions that we somehow have had eroded.

There are still the inventors and innovators, the dreamers and visionaries that will lead us into the next “industrial” revolution, but there are also the blind capitalists.  I’m not saying this is wrong.  My good friend Rob came to me with a business plan and proposal last week for a company that wants to perform a certain service on the web.  Their goal in life is to provide this service well enough to be acquired within three years and have all of the investors return 5x on their money.  At the time it really didn’t seem odd to me, as that is what it’s all about, profit, right?  In writing this article, now it seems a bit disappointing.  Let’s sell off the company so the buyer can liquidate the assets and divisions and fire all the workers so we can “outsource” the functional business units that are still profitable.

What happened to that great Yankee ingenuity that wanted to do something great because it is fun to do, were good at it, and we love doing it?  If we are going to weather these recessions (and I believe we will) and “come back” on a global economic scale, I really think that this is the attitude that will get us there.

Don’t quit dreaming out there.  You have great ideas, a great spirit, and a great opportunity.  Yes, I am a sentimental old hokie, but I still believe that America is a land of opportunity.


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A Day That Will Change Your Life Forever

There are many different turning points in life that involve a choice or decision to be made.  This choice or decision will affect the course your life takes.  Therefore, it is important to make the right choice. Otherwise, you may face future regrets, sadness, and/or anger.

Any specific moment or event can provide someone with the motivation to make life altering changes.  Sometimes that one moment is necessary for that person to make a monumental change. Perhaps it will be the result of an occurrence that affects another, or perhaps it will be something you experienced yourself. Keep in mind that when they happen, these life-changing epiphanies can be good or bad in themselves.

Perhaps even more interesting, some life changing events that affect just a single individual may, in the long run, result in major changes within a society. A good example was the epiphany in physics that struck Albert Einstein while riding in a public conveyance which, in turn, became the formula E=MC2.  The day that Einstein had this life changing idea that catapulted him to worldwide fame and acclaim, also has affected society overall.

From a more individualized perspective, some rather simple things can result in life-changing perspectives. These include a marriage; a divorce; a career change; the birth or death of a child; a decision about education or even a winning lottery ticket or sizeable inheritance. In addition, more than one young person who has made bad decisions about drugs, hung out with the wrong crowd or gone to jail and then ‘seen the light’ and made better decisions for the future, have in fact experienced life changing days.

Another good case in point can be confirmed by alcoholics and drug addicts who finally came to realize that only getting clean could restore them to a decent life. And it works both ways, too. This author had a very-good friend who was the executive VP of a major New York advertising agency

At the age of 45 he was married, had a lovely wife and three wonderful children, a beautiful home in suburban New York City and a 6 figure salary. After becoming involved with his 20 year old Secretary, he began using cocaine. The day he chose to take up with the young woman and use drugs changed his entire life and the lives of his family.

Six months into this illicit relationship, this gentleman lost his job, wife and mistress and was also blackballed in the advertising industry. He lost his home, was divorced and had children who wouldn’t even speak to him. What a marvelous example of how a negative decision made one day was in fact life changing for him and his entire family. The word is that he never recovered and was unable to turn the situation around.

We all come to crossroads where a single decision can have life changing results. And these can be changes for the good—or for the bad.  The point here is that wisdom mandates carefully considering many of the decisions we make in life rather than acting rashly without careful consideration.

Please visit The Personal Development Company if you would like to learn more about The Day That Turns Your Life Around principles by Jim Rohn


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Google’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Logo

Inspired by an article Barry Schwartz wrote that didn’t say what I wanted to.

Martin Luther King, Jr Google Logo 2011Today Google has a special logo on for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  They do for most truly
significant, and some not so significant, days.

Today would have been his 82nd birthday celebration. His legacy lives on with our black president, a somewhat integrated management structure in most major industries, and at least lip service to what his dream was about.  At least in most parts of the country it is no longer fashionable to be openly racist.  Now my prayer is that our hearts will all truly reflect what we are required to “look like” on the outside.  Well America, as my late great friend would have said,  FAKE IT TILL YA MAKE IT.

Technically, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15th, but the United States celebrates the first Monday after his birthday as a national holiday for his leadership during the African American civil rights movement. In 1964 he received the Nobel Peace Prize, at that time, he was the youngest person to ever receive the prize.

Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee and the free world will forever mourn his passing, and our loss.

Here is a larger version of the logo on Google’s home page:

Martin Luther King, Jr Google Logo 2011


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