Lost: The Edge of Everything
The Second Depression
Livin’ on the Edge
Today’s horrific financial crisis has a misleading name. “Second Depression” sounds like a sequel to the Great Depression. In reality, the “Great” Depression was just a dry-run for today’s calamity, much like the Civil War, for all its carnage, was just practice for World War I.
The economic ruin of the Second Depression is far deeper and more widespread than that of the Great Depression. Here are just some of its effects, and what they mean to the World of Darkness.
There are no jobs
Unemployment in the Great Depression never rose above 25%. Today, unemployment in the United States alone is at 38%1, and rising. It is impossible to overstate how devastating this is. Almost half of eligible adults do not have work, cannot pay for sufficient food or power, buy new clothes, or keep their homes.
All of these households rely on government aid for food, while scarcity makes heating simply unavailable. Cold and starvation have already taken thousands of lives, and by now, millions of people have been dispossessed of their homes and belongings. These are not expected to last the winter.
Today, almost every American city sports shanty towns called Ryanvilles where people live in hollowed-out buses, tents, and SUVs, burn whatever they can find for heat, and stab each other over tiny vegetable gardens or pens of eatin’ squirrels. Trucks arrive every day to pick handfuls of people for menial work – some people never return, and if you question the truckers, they just won’t stop in your ‘ville anymore.
If your town has abandoned buildings, squatters live there. People fight over food in dumpsters, and there’s an oil drum fire in every alley. Hordes of “the walking dead” wander from town to town, desperate for food and work. Urban legend holds that some of them actually are dead, kept walking by the desire to make ends meet at last.
Local vs. Immigrant Labor
“Illegals do the jobs Americans won’t do,” was once a common, if pathetic, defense of open immigration. Now, it’s not even true.
Now, millions of Americans would kill for work picking fruit, cleaning hotel rooms, scrubbing toilets, cutting weeds. And kill they do. Violence has broken out all across the US, with job-hungry citizens openly attacking anyone they think is an illegal, and immigrant rights groups launching preemptive strikes against locals.
Militias and hate groups have arisen on both sides. Though outnumbered, the illegal laborers have built-in criminal infrastructures and a stronger sense of community. Local businesses will basically support whoever will work cheaper — usually the foreigners, but desperation breeds an employer’s market.
As for why the immigrants don’t just go home? As awful as it is in the first world, the open war-zones of third-world Latin America are even worse.
1 That’s almost 102 million people out of work.