Energy prices have risen so much in the last few years that working people are having trouble just affording the gas to get to work. Fuel oil and natural gas prices will be high enough this winter that some of our poor and infirm neighbors are in real danger of freezing to death. I believe this new public urgency about wind and solar power is genuine, but those won't become significant sources of energy for the masses anytime soon.
Medical costs, those banes of my existence, are so high that our next president will be forced to accept huge expansions of Medicaid and Medicare enrollment, price controls, and some kind of statutory path to a national single-payer plan. The greed and short-sightedness of insurance companies and hospital execs have driven us to this point. I know some doctors and I believe them when they say they are trapped in the middle. I imagine the only docs who will bitch about socialized medicine are the ones who make millions providing fake tits and fatter wangs to people with too much money and too little sense.
Housing and construction are fucked, too. Anyone who claims we are close to a bottom in the real estate market (especially in the wildly inflated East and West coasts) is either stupid or lying. Thanks to AIG, getting insurance for large public and commercial construction projects or the bonds to fund said work is now way, way harder than it was before. There are realtors around Indy who are keeping busy enough to get by, but they ain't a whole lot of 'em and they are having more trouble than ever getting mortgages for their clients. This all is a symptom of what's going on in Congress and on Wall Street (hit the title link for more about that mess).
Did I mention the auto industry? Well, Toyota and Honda do a lot of their manufacturing here today and they seem to be getting by. I can't say the same about GM, Ford and Chrysler, however. They are looking for $25 billion or so to keep afloat until they can "retool." GM is so desperate that it rolled out its Volt for the press last week. The Volt, a plug-in hybrid that would be able to go 40 miles on a charge and 300+ miles with the help of a small gas engine to recharge the batteries, is promising, but there are problems. GM doesn't have a reliable battery or capacitor for storage yet, but the company insists it will be on car lots by 2010. Chrysler is run by the guy who ran Home Depot into the ground and Ford seems to be hoping for the glory days of selling millions of high-margin SUVs to come back.
What does this all mean? I think you know what I think.
My grandma summed it up for me recently. "You know, Mike, I was born in the last Depression and I think I'm going to live long enough to see the next one."
As much as I will hate living through what's coming, I hate that she may see all of that suffering again before her date with St. Peter and my Grandpa.