things we lost in the greatest depression

Two Out of Three Things Lost to the Recession Are Not Actually Important

On any given day this year, media outlets have been packed with an unending stream of stories about people, communities, and businesses that have been ruined or stunted by the recession. These tales of woe can catapult you into a downward spiral of depression by the sheer amount of them. But if you read them carefully, you’ll notice that while some of these tales are of serious strife — of jobs lost and hospitals struggling and charities afflicted — at least two out of three of them are things the culture never needed in the first place. Like the Clear travel pass. Or flower arrangements in the shape of Bentleys. And why were the Amish even purchasing high-end television sets, anyway? They’re Amish! It can, however, be hard to tell from the headlines which things you should actually care about losing, and which are the result of a necessary correction to the bubble economy. So today we decided to perform an exercise, and read all three of The Wall Street Journal’s fresh new recession stories in order to render judgment and present our findings to you. So: The loss of one of the things here could have actual meaningful consequences. Which one do you think it is?

(A) High-end Clothing for Children
(B) Jobs for Teenagers
(C) Mats Made of Human Hair

The answer (after the jump) may surprise you!

If you guessed (C) Mats made of human hair, you are correct!

The Journal story is about Matter of Trust, a nonprofit that recycles human hair into small mats that can be used to clean up oil spills (human hair being especially good at soaking up oil). Back in 2007, Matter of Trust’s mats were used to clean up 53,000 pounds of oil when a Korean tanker crashed into the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The came the recession:

Last year, she noticed that textile manufacturers that make felt mats … were closing. By October, she couldn’t find a manufacturer that could inexpensively make the mats, which cost between $1 and $4 apiece to produce.

The other stories are about teenagers who haven’t been able to find summer jobs, and $995 Peter Som dresses for children that have been going unsold. Let’s hope there’s no oil spills this year!

Two Out of Three Things Lost to the Recession Are Not Actually Important