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Economist puts present economy in historical perspective

December 22, 2008
It came to pass in the eighth year following the millennium census that a dark cloud descended upon the land. Since time unremembered, the people of this land had experienced only the fat years envisaged by Joseph, and the coming lean year brought woe unto their hearts.

The money lenders refused the lending of money. Craftsmen ceased the making of their chariots, and they cried upon the collectors and dispensers of taxes for help. There was much debate in the Senate.

The wealth of the people diminished. The value of their dwellings declined, and they were bereft at the losses in their IV-01(k)s. Fear spread upon the land. The wise men and scribes failed to see the dark cloud and struggled mightily to remedy the happening.

Soldiers of the land fought in Mesopotamia unto the sixth year of a war. Though General Petraeus conveyed news of peace, and men threw sandals not spears, the war brought much anguish. The rulers had borrowed greatly to fight this war, build roads and care for its people. The cost was high and the debt looming.

But of all the terrible things to descend upon this land was a disproportionate fear — a thing alone to fear because, even facing this lean year, the people in the land lived better than their fathers and the people of all the other lands. The length of their life extended past three score and 16, a score longer than their grandfathers. Their dwellings grew to twice the size of their father's house. Though want was not banished from the land, obesity not hunger became the mark of poverty. Most amazing, while in the whole world, one in four people lived on less than two pieces of gold each day, in this land people paid four pieces of gold for a cup of Arabica coffee.

Also in this year, a new ruler was chosen by the people of the land. In no other nation had this tradition been more fruitful nor endured unto 14 generations. As substantiation, the new ruler bore an uncommon name, hailed from a people who had been enslaved, and was begat by a father from a foreign kingdom. Prayers and wishes of well to this new ruler were bountiful, even among those who wished for another leader.

A winter tradition holds in this land that all the people rest from their labors. Some worship the birth of their messiah, others an escape from bondage, some the birth of a prophet, and others simply a day of quiet.

In the middle part of the land, a former centurion, returned home from campaigns in the east, became a lowly scribe and professor. On the Sabbath throughout the year, this scribe offers his contemplations. On this day, he asks each of you to remember your great fortunes: liberty and plenty, and freedom to worship. The clouds of darkness will pass, fear will be removed, and the light of the season will linger in those who seek it.

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Hicks is director of Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at bbr@bsu.edu.
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