Everywhere I turn, and I do mean everywhere, people are talking about bad times are. This morning I was reading a nice article in Sky and Telescope about how it would be cool to have leaders who were versed and educated in astronomy. Great concept. Can’t argue with that. However, I got stuck on one line:
Our current recession makes the 1961 downturn look tame.
Wavy blurring lines immerse me as I go back to 1961……
Well, can’t do that, I was born in 1962. So, I’ll just have to rely on historical data. You know, data is the stuff astronomers use to figure things out in space because we can’t go there to check it out ourselves. First, let’s look at unemployment since that seems to be a major “crisis” issue right now:
In 1961 the unemployment rate never got below 6 %. It peaked around 7%. We had a spike in 2008, but for the most part it was less than 6%. In 1961, the GDP grew at a fairly normal rate of 2.3%. In 2007 ( last full year so far ), it grew at 2.0%. Although people cite home foreclosures being at record levels, that’s only in the sub-prime categories. The traditional rates are at very normal levels. They, in fact, lower than they were in 1961. The big difference is there was no sub-prime market to speak of in 1961. So, all in all, things aren’t much different than they were in 1961. The reality is that 1961 was not even a recession year. It was a year of recovering from a bad recession in the late 1950′s. This is the real deal. GDP in 1961 was growing, it’s not now. So, perception has apparently skewed over time as to when we actually had recessions and when things just weren’t quite as rosy as they are now. Now, if that’s happening to those who rely on data, imagine how much it’s happening with those that rely on rhetoric.
But, I do like the idea of stressting astronomy more in school. It’s a topic that is woefully under-stressed in school and I think stimulates a child’s mind more than anything else possibly could. When a kid’s mind is stimulated, it makes learning that much more fun.