During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, people were afraid to spend money, afraid to throw things away that they may be able to use again, and definitely did not take any job, large or small for granted. After the Great Depression, some people went back to the high spending and the high life similar to the 1920’s, but most did not.
Now, we are in a recession that threatens to be as bad as the Great Depression was. People are losing jobs at rates never heard of through most of the last century. Home prices have dropped to the point that a lot of people are better off walking away and having a foreclosure on their record than trying to pay their mortgages because they’re so upside down. It may not be called another great depression, but it is beginning to feel like one. Nobody can see the end of it.
That said, it would be difficult for most people to go back to the spending habits that got us into this mess. Some inevitably will. There are those people who never learn from their mistakes, and they will go back to the same habits. Most people however, probably will not go back to the same habits. They will refrain from having too many credit cards. They will spend less and save more. Most people do learn from their mistakes. As in the years after the 1930’s, many of the survivors of the Great Depression never spent as wildly as before again. In fact, there were many that went so far as to hoard their money and belongings for the rest of their lives, living each day in fear that they may lose everything yet again. This recession has become bad enough that it’s starting to have a similar effect on people. Even those that have jobs are afraid to spend too much money for fear that tomorrow they may not have that same job.
This recession holds many parallels to the Great Depression, but while World War II got us out of the mess that was the Great Depression, war seems to have gotten us into this mess, or at least hasn’t helped. To get us out of this mess, it’s going to take the whole country working together, which our country hasn’t done well at in quite some time.