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* Most depressing of all, regions that have been hard-hit by the economic downturn are finding new life by playing host to debt collection centers. (Registration required.) Buffalo, New York’s economy is almost solely propped up by the growth industry in debt collection, a vicious circle of what a colleague of mine called “poor people going after poor people.” Like so many other transformations in our post-industrial economy, the death of the manufacturing sector in Buffalo has taken people with useful skillsets, who had good pay and the promise of promotion, and replaced it with dead-end service sector jobs with no hope of advancement, where your daily aim is to ensure that other people lose money to you.
I look at these stories and think about the end of “No Country for Old Men,” where Chigurh, having left a trail of dead bodies and blood, wanders off into an uncertain future, himself battered and bruised–but not bowed–by his bloody work. The ambiguous, open-ended conclusion to the film is as frustrating as the uncertainty our country faces as we continue our slide into recession, depression, and utter disaster. America truly is no country for the middle class, the working class–for anyone, really, but the idle rich at the very top of the heap. And even they cannot rest easy, knowing that the roll of the dice or the flip of the coin could someday claim their wealth, their lifestyle, their social standing, and their careers. Just ask the current and former CEOs of Bear Stearns.