The 2008 Recession Had A Permanent Effect On The United States

The 2008 Recession Had A Permanent Effect On The United States

This event shaped the teenage years of an entire generation and will not leave us easily.


I originally used part of this work for a scholarship essay, but I am able to reproduce it (edited in my typical "Odyssey voice") and present it to you.

In these tremulous times of politics, many factors and worldviews have taken ahold of the world. One event that stands out most vividly in my lifetime was the crisis of 2008. I remember seeing immense instability in politics. Perplexed at the crisis around me, I would watch the news and hear about people taking to the streets in masses and protesting through movements such as the Tea Party Movement and Occupy Wall Street. This was a world full of uncertainty, a world full of turmoil. It shaped my entire generation, and many of us no longer expected jobs after college graduation. If we were lucky, we might get unpaid internships in our field. We still have not recovered from this crisis as the costs of living rise, but an entire generation is barely getting above minimum wage. A world of uncertainty caused massive youth participation in politics. Young people sat at coffee shops and debated what would happen to the future of the nation. They would read Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu, and other philosophers of old, searching and trying to find an answer to the crisis around them. There was no escape from this crisis, and it engulfed us all.

Both the Democratic and Republican Parties tried searching for a solution and matching the mood of the people; however, these parties became increasingly polarized. It was deeper than just politics - there was a whole psychology of a need for drastic change that was on the hearts of everybody from across the political spectrum. Rage and anger governed the hearts of all because there was an economy to be angry about. A need to be heard in politics is at the heart of every person, and when the people feel that the government is not representing them, they grow further frustrated. When enough people are frustrated, they start an entire movement. These movements can arise from any point of the spectrum and encompass a diverse amount of viewpoints. This is what arose out of the crisis of 2008.

While some parts of society may have recovered, my generation has not felt this recovery. The costs of living have increased while salaries are not increasing. With the current way society is going, it is unlikely the following generation will fare any better. The crisis of 2008 not only shaped the way we see economics, but it also shaped the way we live, causing many people to move abroad to seek jobs in other countries that may pay better. It shaped our politics and polarized the two-party system to the point where it is highly likely that within our lifetime, the American two-party system will be seriously challenged by a multiparty system. If this happens, it is also likely that we may even switch to proportional representation like many countries in the world have. We look at politics differently, and people feel a large disconnect from politicians who are not representing them or their needs. People have felt forgotten and ignored. This may not be fully accurate, but it is a powerful emotion that is able to shape the destiny of a nation.

The status quo was challenged by both major parties, as well as by Independents. People are less likely to trust business and politics, which paves the way for new ideas and institutions. The effect is greater than any one person and greater than both parties. President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Jim DeMint, and Paul Ryan all played roles on the political stage during this crisis, and each one of them was a proponent of a certain ideology or viewpoint. All of these individuals were part of a larger picture reflecting the widening gap in American politics and the uncertainty the people felt after 2008. Many people had their worlds shattered by the economic crisis, and it is predicted that our generation's wealth and prosperity will never reach that of our grandparent's or parent's generations. The inflation rate may only be two percent, but healthcare, education, birth, textbooks, funerals, and other "costs of living" have had an inflation rate that has increased by over 100 percent. Meanwhile, our wages are stagnant or dropping since we are all in unpaid internships.

The 2008 crisis had an impact on our social, political, and economic ways of life. Economically, we will not have the same buying power as a nation, and people are becoming smarter with the way they spend their money. Politically, we have become a fractured and polarized society that is looking for answers and distrusting politicians and business. Socially, we as a society live in uncertainty and are becoming more open to discussing these divisive political issues since we face them in our daily lives. Looking back on my high school and college life, I see that I grew up in an eventful political period.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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