In a completely unstaged 1930s-era conversation between “Mr. Courage” and “Mr. Fear,” Hearst Metrotone tried to encourage consumers to stop saving money with a little thought experiment:
“Crackers and milk? Is that all you’re eating?”
“Well, yes. You know times are hard. I’ve got to economize.”
“Maybe you don’t know it, but you’re the type that’ll put this country on the bum if you keep it up.”
“Is that so?”
“You bet it’s so! Why, that kind of talk puts fear into people. Do you realize that if everybody spent one dollar per week, we’d have prosperity here again? If people quit buying, wages can’t be paid by merchants and manufacturers, can they?”
This argument seems vaguely familiar, somehow. More importantly, let us never forget that it was once possible in America to order crackers and milk for dinner at a restaurant with white tablecloths and tuxedoed waiters.
For a slightly different take on things, check out this newsreel chronicling daily life for men living in Hoovervilles. The narrator certainly doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is. Here he is on breadlines: “Around noon, we hit our favorite restaurant for lunch. It sure was a popular place. We liked it so much we’d stand on line for a couple of hours…no checks to pay, no waiters to bother you, all free. The only thing you gave in exchange was what they called ‘self-respect.’”
I can’t really think of any parallels between the economic situation and now, unfortunately; there really don’t seem to be any similarities I can think of, but perhaps you’ll enjoy these videos anyhow.
[Image via Flickr]