Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · The age of what to do
. . . .

The age of what to do

Robert Downes - August 6th, 2010
The Age of What to Do?
There was a wonderfully scary article in the business section of the
New York Times last month, in which a financial analyst predicted that
we’re in for the biggest stock market crash in 300 years.
Market forecaster Robert Prechter bases his warning on the theories of
accountant Ralph Nelson Elliott, whose Elliott Wave theory predicted
the fluctuations of the stock market in the 1930s and ‘40s. According
to this theory, we may be in for the biggest crash since the collapse
of the South Sea Bubble in 1720 (look it up in your old college econ
book), a financial disaster that was so devastating that people were
fearful of buying stocks for 100 years. Prechter says the Dow Jones
average is likely to sink below 1,000 points (it’s currently hovering
around 10,000) and stay there for years. This would put us back into
the economy of the Stone Age.
Yet in the same business section, you could also read happy talk about
the stock market poised to rebound at any moment. This chirpy optimism
mixed with apocalyptic gloom pervades every financial publication,
going round and round on opposite pages, as if the most knowledgeable
“market forecasters” in the world are no better than witch doctors
poking at the steaming entrails of a goat.
In fact, you might be wise to put more faith in goat guts.
It all gets back to this being the great Age of What to Do? since
there seem to be no sure-fire investments to safeguard your savings
(assuming you have any): stocks, bonds, real estate -- all are rather
iffy and uncertain. In recent months the Dow Jones average has been
bobbing up and down like a cork in a flushing toilet.
This might give a lift to the hearts of those who’d like to stick it
to the rich, except that the ramifications of the Age of What to Do?
are far worse for those who are lower on the economic ladder.
Just last week, another business writer claimed that you can forget
about the value of your house steadily increasing through the years to
provide a retirement nest egg as it did during the second half of the
20th century. “More than likely, that era is gone for good,” the
writer claimed.
Elsewhere, the 30% of students who drop out of high school in America
must be wondering what job can they hope to find these days that will
take them to the other side of 20 grand in the pay scale?
Then there are the choices confronting today’s college students. What
can you major in that will assure you’ll be able to pay back the
$60,000 or so that you owe in student loans? Adding insult to injury,
a huge student loan may make you less desirable as a marriage partner.
Young adults also have the nemesis of outsourcing and job-eating
technology to deal with (ie. America’s much-touted “productivity”).
Soon, for instance, the institution of the DVD rental store may
disappear from your neighborhood, replaced by Netflix and the online
streaming of movies. This is already the case in some parts of the
country. Result? More thousands of jobs lost to digital technology.
This uncertainty extends to the unemployed, who are going back for job
retraining, financed by our empty State treasury. But how many air
conditioning repairmen or solar panel installers will we be able to
hire in the future?
You can even see this concern over what to do reflected in the music
played by a number of jam bands at festivals this summer. The new
trend is to bolt several off-the-mark genres together, like East
European klezmer music and hip-hop. Soon, musicians will be aping
Lady Ga-Ga to the accompaniment of bagpipes and Masai cowbells.
We’re living through a time that newsman Tom Brokaw compares to the
Deep Horizon gusher in the Gulf of Mexico: an out-of-control economic
disaster that seems to have no easy fix. If, as predicted, the
Republicans sweep back into power this November, they too will be
confronted with the specter of a permanent jobless economy, taking
their own turn at the whipping post once voters discover that it takes
more than just tax cuts to generate jobs.
What are the antidotes for the Age of What to Do? As in the Great
Depression, courage, imagination and the willpower to keep on keeping
on. Plus, the hope that the green energy movement with all of its
electric cars, windmills, bullet trains and batteries will energize
our economy -- sooner than later.
It’s interesting to note that there are growing fears that our country
may be veering towards socialism. It’s as if the nation’s collective
subconscious has begun talking about this half-forgotten economic
system, foreshadowing what may be inevitable in a digital, jobless
economy. At what point will we decide that public works jobs for the
permanently unemployed is our only recourse? At what point will we --
as in the Great Depression -- decide that government must fund jobs
for artists, road workers and CCC-style public works projects, if only
to keep jobless people from standing around idle on street corners and
in bread lines?

 
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