To me this is a very interesting question; since I am on the front lines of both disasters I can speak to both of them. If you think back to 9/11 it was one of the most devastating days in American history and in my life. At the time we lived 3 blocks from the Twin Towers; we werent allowed to go back to our apartment for 2 weeks because the entire area was a crime scene. What 9/11 did the most for me was take away the security I felt. I had always felt terrorism was something that happens in other places, certainly not in the US and certainly not in Manhattan. The bombing of the Towers in 1993 reinforced my opinion that terrorists were inept and unable to do anything inside the mighty USA. The reaction from our government was swift and hard. Everything changed. Intelligence gathering changed, new Cabinet level departments were created. We started from zero and relooked at the way we did everything; and we made massive changes. No expense was spared to make the country safer from the terrorist threat we now faced. Being a New Yorker and seeing the towers gone was a devastating thing to go thru. The towers were ugly, not much architecture; but they were ours. They were a beacon on Manhattan. When you got off the subway and werent quite sure which direction to go in, seeing the towers always told you where you were. The attack against America was met with a complete head on reorganization and a policy of preemptive war fare, to make sure we weren’t attacked again.
Fast forward to September 2008 when Lehman went bankrupt, the markets were dropping 700 points day after day. There was a scare that there would be a run on the banks. We had a negative GDP of 9%, we were losing 800,000 jobs per month. In the end the total job loss from the financial crisis and recession was 9 million jobs lost. Nine million. The stock market went to under half its 2007 peak. There were no signs of things getting any better. The government bailed out the banks with TARRP and Obama put in place an $800 billion stimulus. And then that was pretty much it. The stimulus did a good job of fending off another Great Depression.
But where was the real work that needed to be done? Why was there no commission to see exactly what caused the financial crisis. Financial crisis and recession are different. Financial crisis are much harder to overcome. So why was there no investigation into what happened, how it happened and how we could prevent it from happening again? Why didn’t president Obama create a Cabinet level Jobs Czar; someone who would focus 100% of their time getting people back to work. Nine million unemployed. Thats a devastating number. Why wasnt this crisis treated like 9/11. Why wasnt the full force of the government there for the human casualties; the ones who through no fault of their own are unemployed. Unemployed not just for a week, month, 6 months, but for years. The government should have handled this as a complete crisis and made policy changes; investigated how people get hired. It is widely known that people who are longterm unemployed are discriminated against in their search for a job. How on earth is that allowed in the USA? The president has not done enough to create jobs. A cabinet level position would have helped; it still could. Someone who can move heaven and earth to get people working again. Yes the GOP obstructed some of Obama’s ideas, however Obama’s reaction to the monumental job losses was inadequate. We are still in crisis mode and nothing is being done about it. That is just unacceptable. How many peoples lives need to be ruined before something major and dramatic is done to help the longterm unemployed? And I am not talking about extra unemployment insurance; I am talking about restructuring and helping people get jobs. This is especially important since for the last 30 years the middle class has seen their annual pay lessen. More was needed, and its not too late.
So my original question, which was more devastating to America 9/11 or the 2008 financial melt down in my opinion the financial meltdown was a lot more devastating. 9/11 was a horrible day, 3,000 people died, we went to wars where many other people died. We lost our sense of invincibility. But this financial meltdown has effected many more people. 9 million jobs lost. 25 million un/underemployed; 5 million longterm unemployed. And the economy is not strong, many companies are announcing layoffs for next year.
I wish Barack Obama reacted to the jobs financial crisis the way George W. Bush reacted to September 11, 2001.