March 10, 2012
Everyone knows that as people age, they tend to get confused about things. It’s just one of those dreadful realities about old age. And I am no exception. I am deeply confused, for example, about a number of issues in the news lately, in spite of minds greater than mine trying to explain them to me.
I do talk over these issues with my cat, Little, (another one of those dreadful realities about getting older,) but she is twelve years old – which is, I think, late middle age for cats – and is often as confused about things as I am.
Yesterday, we discussed how Greece forced onto reached an agreement with their debtholders that the bond owners would take a haircut on all that Greek debt, taking pennies on the dollar (or euro, in this case) so Greece would get the next installment on their bailout. This meant the agreement would trigger payouts of credit default swaps, which prompted a ruling by the Swaps and Derivatives Association that a “restructuring credit event” had occurred.
Now, both the cat and I clearly remember one of those greater minds saying, only a few months ago, that if the paying out of credit default swaps occurred, Greece would be in …well … default, not a “restructuring credit event”. But, all the European big-wigs were soon on the news, thrilled that Greece had not, in fact, defaulted.
Cat and I must have had one of those senior moments …
Then, there’s the issue of our own American economy. The economists told us that the United States came out of recession in 2009, though neither Little nor I (nor, for that matter, any of the neighbors that I talk to) thought that was true. And, this morning, I read about a January survey of “affluent” people done by the Ipsos Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer, which said that 63 percent of wealthier Americans (those making more than $100,000) still think we’re in a recession, too.
Well, that certainly confused Little and me, especially when we read of a recent study from Emmanuel Saez, at the University of California at Berkeley, that found, from 2009 to 2010, the affluent 1% had 93% of the income growth.
Cat and I are now wondering whether we simply misunderstood the figures or whether those “affluents” have had a senior moment of their own …
And this last week, Mr. Holder, our Attorney General, came forth from the bowels of the Justice Department to issue the government’s rationale for the extra-judicial killings of American citizens deemed terrorists without due process, saying among other things: “Let me be clear: an operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful at least in the following circumstances: First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States …”
A couple of points here caused Little and me confusion when I read that. You see, as I explained to her, I have very clear memories from civics class that the Fifth Amendment assigns that determination to a Grand Jury, not to “the U.S. Government”. And the only exceptions to that were “cases arising in the land or naval forces or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger;” none of which, as far as I can tell, applied to that citizen whose targeted killing the Attorney General was trying to justify.
I must say, learning that we had been so confused about such an important issue caused much more that a senior moment for both the cat and me …
And while I’m thinking about “the Government”, I’ve been wrestling a lot lately with this sudden preoccupation by males in the Republican Congress over women’s contraception. Especially when I read this week that Representative Jeff Fortenberry had introduced legislation on the issue. One article I read went on to say that, while he knew there was hesitation by some Republicans on the issue, a delay would give them time to “recast the issue” as a matter of religious freedom rather than women’s rights. And that, “We’ll keep trying to appropriately frame the debate about this core American principle.”
Now, I realize it’s been forty some years since I carried my son, but I’m pretty sure it was not my religious leader to whom I entrusted my healthcare for that nine months, but my doctor. Nor was it my pastor with whom I discussed whether or not I should take birth control afterward and who gave me a prescription for that birth control when I choose to take it. That was my doctor, too. Apparently, I’m mistaken about that and the appropriate frame of reference for those choices is not one of a woman’s right to medical coverage of medical decisions, but of some male bishop’s freedom of religion. Silly old woman.
Although Little had nothing to say about the matter, (having been spayed involuntarily as a kitten,) that must have been one doozie of a senior moment on my part …
These issues must be wrestled with – especially in an age of collapse – if nations are not to be subservient to the greed of their bankers; the poor, to the misunderstandings of the affluent; women to the fears of small men and all of us, to the whims of a dangerously failing government.
I think, however, that with all these senior moments I’ve been having lately, I should hand over that wrestling to those much younger and of more stable minds. I fear I must accept the fact that my memory has been playing cruel tricks on me. That I, who so clearly fail to understand the issues, should now be content to pass the burden on to those who do and gracefully accept what I have become – an old lady with a cat, in the age of collapse.