The Great Recession

The dull-looking men on TV tell us that America is entering a recession. Now, despite having its root in the word “recess,” a recession is not all fun and games and kickball, nor do school children look forward to it, nor does it end after 20 minutes with the sound of a bell. In fact, a recession is nothing at all like recess. Stupid language.

A recession is a downturn in the economy, marked by a decline in trade and employment. It is not as bad as a depression, which occurred in the 1930s and is the leading cause of thrift among old people. A depression requires Prozac; a recession just needs us to eat a lot of ice cream and watch a funny movie. Unfortunately, we cannot afford the good ice cream, so we’re stuck eating generic, and even if we could find enough loose change to go to the movies, the theater would be full of teenage girls talking on cell phones. So times are indeed bleak.

I don’t know what economic indicators are used to officially determine recessionhood, and I’m certainly not going to look them up. I’m going by my instincts: We must be in a recession, because I don’t have any money. Perhaps this is due to eating in restaurants twice a day, every day, for the past month, but perhaps it is also due to a recession. Who can say? And if someone can say, who will listen? I can’t, because I’m busy eating.

As a result of the recession, businesses are cutting back, laying off employees and, in some drastic cases, forcing upper-level management to take pay cuts, putting them in only the top 10 percent of the nation’s wealthy instead of the top 5 percent. Many executives have had to fire their chauffeurs and must now walk unescorted as they dodge the panhandlers outside their offices. Many of these beggars used to work for them.

Newspapers are not exempt from these cutbacks. The Orange County Register recently laid off 105 employees, and the Dallas Morning News sent 73 folks packing. The New York Times even had to sell its theater critics’ thesauruses. (“A tragic tragedy of tragic proportions!” is how one critic described it.)

The Daily Herald has made changes, too, some of which may not be apparent to the average reader, particularly since I made some of them up. Among them:

• Newspaper now being printed on 3×5 cards.

• Humor removed from “The Family Circus.”

• Paperboys replaced with trained monkeys.

• Bold promotion to increase circulation: Every new subscriber gets a date with Julie Stoffer.

• Expensive newsprint replaced with much cheaper Fruit Roll-Ups.

• Valuable news space conserved by switching from traditional English to more word-efficient “Tarzan-speak.”

• To be more “eye-catching,” front page will now be the same as the cover of the current TV Guide.

• Ann Landers euthanized. (No impact on finances, but good for employee morale.)

• Sensationalistic words such as “bloodbath” and “murderrific,” once banned, now encouraged. (In today’s edition: “Murderrific zoning issues discussed in bloodbath city council meeting.”)

• Instead of focusing on “who, what, why, where, when and how?,” news stories will now include “why” and “where” only on weekends.

• New attention-grabbing title: The Daily Salt Lake Tribune.

Only time can tell whether these changes will boost revenue and ultimately change the state of the economy, but it’s almost certainly going to get worse before it gets better. Pass the Prozac.

I think this column is kind of Marxist, what with blaming my being broke on the recession in the third paragraph, and then the whole "capitalist pigs" attitude in the fourth. I never knew I was a Marxist, but I guess must be. (And wasn't I just saying a few weeks ago that I always seem to have money, no matter how poorly I manage it? Yeah, well the bottom fell out of THAT system, let me tell you.)

Julie Stoffer, you'll recall, was the BYU student selected to appear on MTV's "The Real World" in 2000.