Color Me Cynical

Muammar al-Gaddafi at the 12th AU summit, Febr...

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March 26, 2011

Have you ever had one of those weeks where everything you read made you go, “Pffft, yeah, right”?  Well, this was my week.  Usually, when I feel that way, I try to grow something, but most of this week has been cold and/or rainy and made my bones ache and I just didn’t feel like getting out there and tackling the garden.  I did manage to dump the old dirt out of my three earth boxes, clean them up, haul them back to my south porch and fill them with new soil.  I even managed to get some peas soaked, inoculated and planted in the earth boxes.  But that was as far as I got before that “Pffft, yeah, right” business overran my urge to plant and stomped it into the ground.

The first bout of cynicism hit while reading an article in Business News, http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2011/03/20/Poll-Most-living-American-Dream/UPI-21181300675992/ that began, “Despite many homes in foreclosure, a high jobless rate and a shaky economy, most U.S. adults say they are living the American dream, a survey indicates.”

Pffft,  yeah, right.

“The Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll indicates 59 percent say they are living the American Dream. Seventy-five percent percent surveyed say it is still possible for people like them to achieve the American Dream, which the poll defined as the ability to advance as far as their talents will take them and live better than their parents did.”

Well, anything’s possible, I suppose.

With home values having dropped by an average of 26% as of last month., BLS indicate 13.7 million people still unemployed, 8.3 million “involuntary” part-time employed and 2.7 million looking for work  http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm and with food and energy prices up over three percent in the last month, how can almost 60% of Americans still say they are living the American dream?

I don’t know, but color me cynical.

On Thursday, I read an article at CNBC http://www.cnbc.com//id/42253012 that said, “American families have seen their incomes slide by almost a fifth since before the financial crisis, according to a study released by the Federal Reserve on Thursday.” I don’t doubt it, but it was the last line, which said, “The wealthiest families took the largest hit over the two-year period, as they suffered disproportionately large losses in capital gains and business income”, that made me go, “Pffft, yeah, right.”

Maybe it’s the Clintonesque nature of that word “hit”, but it’s hard for me to imagine that the person making, say, $5,000,000 dollars and losing 18% ($900,000) took as big a “hit” as the person making $25,000 and losing $4,500 or the person who ordinarily makes $10,000 a year losing $1800 of it.

Sigh. Color me cynical.

Then, there’s the matter of Libya.  The uprising there began as a series of protests on February 15 and over the next month, as open rebellion broke out and Muammar Qadafi’s response became more violent, we in the West basically watched the increasing carnage while shaking our fingers and saying, “Qadafi must go.”  Of course, as he opened fire from both ground and air forces, we discussed the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone … and discussed it … and discussed it … though mostly from the aspect of why it was such a bad idea.

Suddenly, on March 17, the UN resolution passed and the bombing of Libya by western powers – who after a month of watching the slaughter, suddenly got a hankering to protect the Libyan people – began scarcely two days later.  Umm, pfft, yeah, right.

I do think, over the years, Qadafi has behaved like a murderous thug.  And perhaps our consciences finally did get the better of us.  Perhaps not.  We do know that, of Libya’s 1.69 million barrels of oil per day, 85% of that oil goes to Europe and that due to the uprising, the danger of that flow of oil to Europe stopping – possibly for a long time –  was very real.  And, due to that possibility, oil prices were rising around the world, putting the still fragile world economy in danger.

But the real question raiser, for me, came from this article on Monday, March 14.  http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/3/12/7661/Business/Economy/Gaddafi-offers-Libyan-oil-production-to-India,-Rus.aspx On that day, the article says, “Libya’s leader Muamer Gaddafi invited Chinese, Russian and Indian firms to produce its oil … in a bid to replace Western companies that fled unrest.”

So, after a month of dithering and demanding, three days after Qadafi’s offer to China, Russia and India, the UN security council votes in a resolution for a no-fly zone over Libya.  The five abstaining votes?  China, India and Russia – along with Germany and Brazil.

And for all of the assurances we received from the President, that the sole purpose of the no-fly zone was to “protect innocent Libyan civilians,” one of the first things we managed to do was to shoot six  civilians who were trying to rescue one of our downed pilots.  So, I’m pretty sure that protecting civilians wasn’t the main reason.

Yep, color me cynical.

Now, I don’t like being a cynic, but over the last seventy years, I have learned a few things.  1) Polling samples can be manipulated by which people you sample in a poll, the questions you ask and how you word them   2) Two groups of people – one wealthy and one poor – do not take the same “hit” when they lose an equal percentage of their income.  3) Governments lie to their people and one of the things they lie about most is why they’re taking a particular action when oil is involved.

Having said all that, maybe tomorrow the rain will have passed and I will be out in my gardens once again.  Then, for a while, at least, you can color me slightly less cynical.

 

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