This blog explores the idea that history shows signs of cyclicality, or that generations, the economy, social trends etc. repeat themselves from time to time – or at least they rhyme. Nicolai Kondratiev and Strauss & Howe likened this dynamic to the seasons. What Strauss & Howe call the Fourth Turning or ‘Crisis’ era is also known as a Kondratiev winter. In other words, a season characterized by decline rather than growth. The depression of the 1930s was the last time the country was at this turning. Childhood poverty, one of the most pressing generational problems now in our Crisis/ Kondratiev winter is explored in a recent documentary timely called American Winter.
I will admit that after working with family trends for a while, the core message in this movie is what inspired me to start this blog and what keeps me writing. When in the wealthiest country in the world, between 1/4 and 1/5 of the total child population lives in poverty, it affects a whole generation, even most of the 3/4 who are not poor. Because in this one-strike-and-you’re-out reality everyone but a few financially secure people are just one paycheck, one mortgage payment or one recession away from personal disaster. And if you don’t live in a permanent zen bubble, that knowledge will eat at your nerve endings.
Please watch the trailer below. It will tug at your heartstrings and wet your eyes, but this is more than exaggerated cinematography. It’s actually true for very many families who are falling out of the middle class and into an uncertain future. If you don’t have time to watch the full clip, the dire message here comes about 1:23 minutes in.