That’s right, broken teeth…
In last week’s “This American Life“, several eye catching statistics which may not be commonly associated with a poor ecomony, are highlighted as circumstance of our current recession. Apparently dentists have been receiving a noticeable increase in the amount of patients they receive with cracked teeth as a result of grinding them together in their sleep. Bruxism (the fancy dentist name for teeth clenching/grinding) is known to be a result of stress. High unemployment, decreased income, loss of job security, and evaporated retirement savings are increasing stress levels on millions of Americans, and correspondingly decreasing the quality of their teeth. Severance packages should start including mouth guards.
Other noteworthy statistics mentioned in Sunday’s “This American Life” includes decreased traffic delays (fewer people driving to work and those who still have a job use the bus to get there), decreased shark attacks (sharks are too depressed to derive joy from hunting surfers – or people are vacationing less, either is perfectly logical), increased vasectomies (babies are dangerously expensive), and even the recession proof industry of pornography is experiencing hard times (maybe a little pun intended).
But there was a new statistic on CNN that caught my eye today which you won’t find in any historical analysis of the Great Depression – cybercrime. Apparently Internet fraud is at an all time high. The article makes no reference to the current economic state as being the cause, but wouldn’t you think the two would be related? In order to maintain profit in a business where you’re selling less product, there’s a simple equation which they neglect to teach you in business school (then again I never took a financial derivatives class). It’s called, “stealing”, and all it involves is removing any unnecessary costs (including any pesky overhead or variable costs), therefore driving up the margin percentage to near impossible levels.
An even better idea then charging people for a product that they’ll never receive, is charging people for a service which they won’t ever receive, and making them think they’re receiving this service for extended periods of time so they continually give you money. Some call this a Ponzi Scheme. I think when you’re able to pull off such a feat at an estimated value of $65 billion, you’ve earned the right to rename the title. The new proper terminology is to say they Bernie Madoff’d with your money.
Am I claiming that the Bernie Madoff incident was the result of our economy? Of course not. Storm clouds can fester even in the nicest of climates (except for maybe San Diego). But desperate times call for desperate measures, and can have a tendency to bring out the Bernie in all of us.
My dad always told me that society was merely a major disaster removed from becoming a complete state of anarchy. As bleak and ominous as this claim appeared, it’s seeming harder to deny.
If our economy continues to deteriorate as it has over the last year and a half, we conceivably could be headed down a dark and scary path.
Someone, please send Secretary Giethner a mouth guard immediately!