* Drawings, Charts, And Videos That Explain The Recession

9/11 Wars + Tax Cuts + Bailouts = Recession.

This article analyzes, chronologically, how the US got itself – and the world – into the current recession. I wrote this post primarily for me, because I don’t want to forget how we got into this mess. But if others like it, that’s gravy.

For the record, I have never belonged to any political party. As it says under “political views” on my Facebook profile, “I vote for the smartest candidate. It doesn’t always work out.”

1946-2001: Back Story

  1. Book Review: Economics In One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt (1946, Yes, 1946)
    The current recession began in 1946 when zero politicians bought this book. You don’t need to study economics in school. You need to read this book. Hazlitt explains, in simple terms, how classic economic mistakes are made by pursuing short-term policies that benefit only a select few at the expense of a long-term policies that could benefit many.
  2. Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over’ (2001-01-17)
    Under President Bill Clinton, the US enjoyed peace and prosperity. With this story, [satirical publication] The Onion joked about what would happen after George W. Bush was inaugurated. Now who’s laughing?

2001-2008: The Big Four Expenses

President George W. Bush started two wars and created two windfalls (Bush tax cuts for the rich and TARP bailouts for Wall Street banks). These are the Big Four expenses that started the current economic downturn.

  1. Afghanistan War (2001-10-07)
  2. Iraq War (2003-03-20)
  3. Bush Tax Cuts (2003-05-23)
  4. TARP Bailouts (2008-10-03)

2008-2010: Recession (Part 1)

President Barack Obama promised to end the two wars and the two windfalls (Bush tax cuts and TARP bailouts). To date, he has done none of this. In late 2010, Obama extended the Bush-era tax cuts. So they are Obama’s tax cuts now.

  1. The Sub-Prime Primer (2008-05-07)
    The housing market started to collapse in 2008. This presentation explains how and why the housing market failed.
  2. The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future Of Our Economy, Energy, And Environment (2008-10)
    First a video series, then a book, Crash Course will teach you why we’re all screwed – unless we change now. If you dare watch/read it. For example, you’ll learn why ordinary Americans are forced to invest their retirement savings in risky stocks just to keep up with inflation.
  3. Chart: Debt With And Without Bush Tax Cuts (2008-12-02)
    Nearly four years ago, The New York Times warned about the impact of the Bush tax cuts.
  4. Infographic of the Day: Our Lost Decade (2010-01-06)
    Zero percent job growth over the last decade.
  5. Infographic of the Day: Just How Big Is the Deficit? (2010-02-03)
    Worst deficit since World War II (WWII, WW2).
  6. Chart: VC-Backed IPOs and M&A Deals 1992-2009 (2010-05-31)
  7. Infographic of the Day: The Entire History of the American Presidency (2010-06-10)
    This great poster gives context to politics and the economy from 1776 to 2010.
  8. The Student Loan Scheme (2010-09-16)
    Amendments to the Bankruptcy Code in 2005 prevent student loan debt from being discharged in bankruptcy.
  9. Comic: Puzzled by the Downturn (2010-11-05)
  10. Chart: Economic DownTurn, Financial Rescues, And Legacy of Bush Policies Drive Record Deficits (2010-12-03)
  11. Obama extends Bush-era tax cuts (2010-12-17)

2011-Present: Recession (Part 2)

Some economists have declared that the late 2000s recession is over. But with US unemployment at 9%, it’s safe to say that the 2008-present recession is alive and well.

  1. Average Sole Proprietor’s Net Income 1980-2007 (2011-01-10)
  2. Scary Unemployment Chart (2011-02-07)
  3. Rising Inequality Since 1970s: A Sharp Break From Shared Prosperity Of Earlier Era (2011-04-08)
  4. Chart: Startups As A Percentage Of All Businesses 1977-2009 (2011-06-06)
  5. US Budget: 20% Defense, 20% Social Security, 15% Medicare (Elderly), 8% Medicaid (Poor), 37% Other *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Us_budget (2011-06-10)
  6. Too Big to Fail: Inside America’s Economic Downfall [Infographic] (2011-06-30)
  7. The Truth About Who’s Responsible For The Explosion In Government Spending (2011-07-11)
  8. The Truth About Who’s Responsible For Our Massive Budget Deficit (2011-07-11)
  9. USA Inc. – Where We Are, How We Got Here, What May Be Next (2011-07-20)
    USA Inc. is a nonpartisan group that looks at the US federal government as if it were a business.
  10. Chart: Policy Changes Under Two Presidents (2011-07-26)
  11. Chart: Where Does U.S. National Debt Come From? [Infographic] (2011-07-27)
  12. The Original ‘Scariest Jobs Chart Ever’ Is Still Plenty Scary (2011-08-05)
  13. A timeline of events (2011-08-06)
  14. US Debt Crisis Explained (2011-08-10)
  15. The Onion predicts the future (2011-08-11)
    Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over’
  16. Remove Eight Zeros (2011-08-14)
    The best way for most Americans to understand the big numbers in the US budget is to remove eight zeros and pretend its a family budget.
  17. The Limping Middle Class (2011-09-04)
  18. The Great Prosperity 1947-1979 vs. The Great Regression 1980-2011 (2011-09-04)
  19. WARREN BUFFETT CALLS BS ON TAX BS: Taxing Billionaires More Won’t Hurt The Economy (2011-09-10)
    Buffet talks a good talk, but he rarely acts on his political ideas.
  20. 9/11 anniversary: National Memorial in New York opens (2011-09-12)
  21. The Middle Class Is Dead (2011-09-12)
  22. US poverty rate hits record high (2011-09-14)
  23. The lost decade for the middle class (2011-09-16)

2011-Present: #Occupy

The #Occupy Movement: The Frogs Figured Out That The Water Was Boiling. To late? Or just in time. (That first sentence is in init caps because it was going to be the title of this post.) I recall what one Occupy Boston protester said about why he was protesting: “The Bush Administration may have caused the recession, but the Obama Administration didn’t do what it said it was going to do to end the recession (namely ending the wars, the Bush tax cuts, and the bailouts), and so we the Occupiers feel disenfranchised, with nowhere to turn but the streets.” Then, rather than arresting the politicians and bankers that caused the economic mess, the police started arresting the 99%! Crazy. Perhaps 10 years after 9/11, the terrorists have won.

  1. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Starts (2011-09-17)
  2. 14 Reasons People Are Occupying Wall Street (2011-09-28)
  3. 11 Ways America is Keeping Poor People Poor (2011-09-30)
  4. One Third Of Veterans Don’t Back Wars (2011-10-06)
  5. Watch Protesters Take Wall Street as Fancy Bankers Look On [Video] (2011-10-06)
  6. Finally, A Clear Explanation Of What The Wall Street Protesters Are So Angry About (2011-10-09)
  7. Here’s The Chart That Will Get Obama Fired (2011-10-09)
  8. 72 Cities That Have Joined The Occupied Movement (2011-10-09)
  9. Chart: Growth Of Family Income 1947-2007: We Grew Apart (2011-10-11)
  10. What Would George Carlin Say About #OccupyWallStreet? (2011-10-12)
    NSFW but worth the read.
  11. Here’s What The 99% Are Angry About (2011-10-13)
  12. The Protesters Are Getting Their Act Together! (2011-10-13)
  13. Violence Erupts in Rome as Occupy Wall Street Goes Global (2011-10-15)
  14. Four Charts That Explain What The Protesters Are Angry About (2011-10-15)
  15. Amazing Charts Show How 90% Of The Country Has Gotten Shafted Over The Past 30 Years (2011-10-15)
  16. NYPD Arrests Citibank Customer For Taking Money Out Of Own Account (2011-10-15)
  17. Chart: US Debt Accumulation by President (2011-10-16)
  18. Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance (2011-10-17)
    This is a great read. Example:

    “11. Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.”

  19. U.S. Marine Demolishes NYPD, Defends #OccupyWallStreet (2011-10-17)
  20. The Greatest #OccupyWallStreet Sign Ever (2011-10-17)
  21. Occupy George, Occupy Wall Street Infographics Printed On Dollar Bills (2011-10-18)
  22. 15 Great #OccupyWallStreet Political Cartoons (2011-10-18)
  23. Libya’s interim leader confirms Gadhafi killed (2011-10-20)
  24. Chart: How Many Millionaires In Congress? (2011-10-20)
  25. Chart: Self-Employment Income 2006-2011 (2011-10-24)
  26. Top Earners Doubled Share of Nation’s Income, CBO Says (2011-10-26)
  27. Why Obama should call for a breakup of big banks (2011-10-26)
  28. Before & After: Occupy Oakland (2011-10-26)
  29. Jon Stewart: ‘What the F*ck Happened in Oakland?’ [Video] (2011-10-27)
  30. Why the current revenue model of higher education is in trouble (2011-10-27)
  31. If US Land Were Divided Like US Wealth (2011-10-28)
  32. The Washington Post: What caused the financial crisis? The Big Lie goes viral (2011-10-31)
  33. Congress’ Net Worth Up 25% Since 2008 [The Rich] (2011-11-01)
  34. College has been oversold (2011-11-02)
  35. Super committee: Let Bush tax cuts expire and your work will be done (2011-11-02)
  36. Why College? A Comic Strip People Should See In High School (2011-11-04)
  37. Chart: Italy GDP Growth (2011-11-08)
  38. Why American Roads Are So Bad (2011-11-08)
  39. NEW POLL: Americans Want Everything [Video] (2011-11-08)
  40. US poverty: Blame the government (2011-11-09)
  41. Please Help Us Figure Out How To Solve The Inequality Problem (2011-11-13)
  42. Police Destroy 5,000 Books In Their Eviction Of #OccupyWallStreet (2011-11-15)
  43. How the rich stay rich (2011-11-15)
  44. Occupiers occupied: The hijacking of the First Amendment (2011-11-16)
  45. OUTRAGE OF THE MONTH: Insider Trading In Congress (2011-11-16)
  46. Chart: The Popularity Of Congress Compared With Other Unpopular Things (2011-11-17)
  47. Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent, Vermont), Senate Budget Committee (2011-11-18)
  48. Lobbyists and Politicians Beware: First Street Reveals Your Hidden Connections (2011-11-18)
  49. The real problem with Occupy Wall Street? This Google search: http://t.co/LMJRKSYs (2011-11-19)
  50. Venn Diagram: Federal Government vs. Goldman Sachs (2011-11-20)
  51. Egyptian State TV Uses The Police Response To #Occupy To Justify Their Own Brutality (2011-11-21)
  52. CNN’s David Gergen: Have they gone nuts in Washington? (2011-11-21)
  53. Five reasons why the congressional supercommittee failed (2011-11-21)
  54. Occupy Wall Street Moves Into New Phase With Student Debt Refusal Campaign (2011-11-21)


There are many problems with the world, its economy, and its denizens.

People have a short attention span. Most have forgotten the Big Four and what preceded it (9/11).

People make decisions based on emotion, not on logic.

People don’t understand large numbers like billions and trillions (hint: try removing eight zeros).

People take facts out of context.

News is entertainment.

Politicians know people.

So what happens? Politicians prey on emotions to get people to vote in certain ways.

It’s takes money to make money.

Power corrupts.

Lobbyists lobby, laws change.

Follow the money.

The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

And instead of a government of the people, by the people, for the people, we have a government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.

It is sad, but it is true. Copyright law was long ago hijacked by Hollywood. In 2011, patent law was hijacked by big business.

50% of those in Congress are millionaires. Whose interests do you think they have in mind?

I don’t know who the next US president will be. But the formula for breaking the economy is well known:

9/11 Wars + Tax Cuts + Bailouts = Recession

Here’s how to fix the economy:

End The 9/11 Wars + End The Bush Tax Cuts + End The Bailouts = End The Recession

There has been a failure of leadership in Washington, DC. There been a failure of followership. And there has been a failure of get-out-of-the-way-ship. The 112th Congress will go down in history as one of the most political, least effective, and most corrupt ever. Unless things change soon, this independent voter may end up casting protest votes in all contests for himself. Again.

I’m pretty good at spotting trends. Do you see the trend here? The natives are getting restless. The US government must reform now.

Said the king to his protesting subjects, “You have to do what I say or I can’t be king anymore!”


Erik J. Heels is an MIT engineer; trademark, domain name, and patent lawyer; Red Sox fan; and music lover. He blogs about technology, law, baseball, and rock ‘n’ roll at erikjheels.com.

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44 Replies to “* Drawings, Charts, And Videos That Explain The Recession”

  1. I spent a long time looking for the “I can’t be king anymore” comic before giving up and commissioning my son, Ben, to recreate it from my memory. While unpacking some books after a recent home improvement project, I found the original comic, bookmarked, in one of my comic books.

    The quote “I’m the king and you have to do what I command or else I can’t be king any more!” (which I got pretty close) originates from this book:

    * Two Guys Fooling Around with the Moon (1982)
    by B. Kliban

    Kliban (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._Kliban) was best known for his comics and books about cats.

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