New Normal? Hope Not

Tom McLaughlin — July 30, 2013

It depresses me to drive down main street in my small town of Lovell, Maine and see vacant businesses. The hardware store has been closed up for more than a year and it’s a twenty-mile round trip now when people here need a nut or a bolt. There used to be three stores with lunch counters in town but only one is open year-round now. Another isn’t able to fill its shelves with merchandise and a third lies vacant. There just aren’t very many people around town anymore – not like there used to be, and it’s high summer.

There’s not a lot of boat traffic on Kezar Lake either. It’s nice to have the beautiful lake to myself when I’m out there but it’s not good for my town. Boat traffic diminished considerably when Stephen King bought the Kezar Lake Camping Area and closed it down, but that was years ago and we absorbed it. Something else is happening now, and it isn’t good.

Some say it’s the new normal. Seven or eight percent unemployment. Fifteen percent if we count those only working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job, and that doesn’t count tradesmen who can’t find enough work in construction. They’re scrounging around under-bidding each other for small repair jobs. More and more work under the table for cash, making it still more difficult for small businessmen to keep their chins above water while paying for ever-increasing local, state, and federal regulations required to stay “on the books.” As big government grows ever larger, so do efforts to avoid it – and that grows the underground economy.

I don’t know how it is where you live, but that’s what I’m seeing out my window. When I go out of town and bump into former students in North Conway, NH or Portland, Maine, they’re working at whatever jobs they can find because they can’t get work in their chosen field. They have student loans to pay and they’re discouraged.

Driving other local roads I’ve traveled a thousand times in the past thirty-six years, I see homes going into disrepair, lawns overgrown, paint peeling, shingles missing, and “For Sale – Price Reduced” signs. I’ve never seen it so bad, and I wonder how many of their owners’ mortgages are underwater. I wonder how many have already been foreclosed on, but banks are reluctant to evict residents for fear the properties will deteriorate further. For the past year and a half I’ve been driving Route 302 twice a week. It’s the main east/west highway through southern Maine. As soon as I leave Portland and go into the rural hinterland I’m seeing the same thing – more “For Sale” signs and decaying properties, both residential and commercial.

Administration officials and their Mainstream Media lapdogs continue to proclaim that it would be worse if not for the trillions in stimulus that have put America into record debt. Three years ago, the president said, “What is a danger is that we stay stuck in a new normal where unemployment rates stay high.” Looks like we’re there however – in spite of his record deficit spending for “economic stimulus.”
Yeah, I hear that housing prices have bottomed out and sales are increasing, but how long will that last? It’s happening only because the Federal Reserve is creating digital dollars out of thin air at the rate of $85 billion per month and using much of that to purchase mortgage-backed securities.

And yeah, I hear that the stock market is breaking records, but that’s all artificial too. When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hints that he may slow down his money-printing, the market drops. How long can this go on? Not long. Then what’ll happen? Collapse, that’s what.

You want to see our future? Look at Detroit – if you dare. It looks like Hiroshima after the bomb. It used to have the highest per capita income in the United States back in 1962. Then progressive Democrats and their union supporters took over total control – and they’ve held that control for fifty years. Detroit is the end result of their policies. All of America is on that road when they’re driving, and they’ve got the wheel in Washington.

Democrats started growing government beginning with FDR. Then it was Johnson, Then Carter. Then Clinton – then Republicans under George W. Bush. He grew it even faster than Clinton did. But Obama makes them all look like pikers and he still claims it’ll all get better if he just spends more.

At the end of his first year in office, Obama went to Allentown, PA and lamented the economic slowdown saying, “I promise you this: I won’t rest until things get better.” Well, he’s played 100 rounds of golf since that speech and 125 since being sworn in. He is the tenth president I remember in my lifetime and I don’t recall any of them taking as many vacations as he has. Last month it cost us all over $100 million to send him and his family to Africa – again – and it looks like they all had a great time.

People in Lovell, Maine aren’t doing so good. How is it where you live? Contributing Editor Tom McLaughlin is a (now retired) history teacher and a regular weekly columnist for newspapers in Maine and New Hampshire. He writes about political and social issues, history, family, education and Radical Islam. Email him at

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