Thursday, March 05, 2009

On Unemployment Rate's Eve

Today I bet 25 cents that the national unemployment rate -- announced tomorrow at 8:30 am -- will hit 8 percent and another 25 cents that the month's job loss will near 700,000. I wrote an imaginary lede for such a story and then played with headlines starting with P until someone called out "Peak Reached." We all laughed: we won't know the peak until long after this recession depression.

Are we at the end of the United States' ascendancy, as many people abroad think? Will the next power be the European Union, which as a nonpower will transcend power?

Every moment feels like a crisis to those who live it, as we do not know the outcome of what we are undergoing. What we know seems static and necessarily the state of things. Did an American slave in 1840 guess at a Mr. Lincoln drawing up the Emancipation Declaration? Who during the Cold War expected the Soviet Union to dissolve without a shot fired?

How odd that we only know the meaning of what we are experiencing long after it has happened, long after our power to change events has faded. Who knows? Maybe the rate will go down and it is a recession, after all.
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