From the Archives
(January 2006) Okay does anyone see a pattern here? We withhold body armor from soldiers then mortality rates rise. We destroy our environment then hotter oceans yield stronger hurricanes and tsunamis. We destroy barrier islands then hurricanes hit cities full force. We deregulate, then inspectors who once drove their Chevies to the levees to see if they’re dry and structurally sound wind up bagging groceries somewhere. We lower taxes to the point that chronically understaffed offices can no longer perform vital services such as visiting mines to ensure compliance, then trapped miners die waiting for missing rescuers to arrive.
There’s a gap we’re not minding here, a critical black hole into which the cause-and-effect rationale of people who complain about long lines at the DMV while demanding further tax cuts has been sucked.
Meanwhile, 5 million more of us slipped into poverty in the last four years even as the conservative bobbleheads insisted that our economy is fine, and middle- and lower-class citizens experienced substantial cost-of-living increases alongside a 40-percent rise in health-care costs.
Molly Ivins points out that the federal minimum wage has held steady at $5.15/hour since 1997 even though the Economic Policy Institute reports that inflation has eroded away minimum wage’s buying power to its second-lowest level since the fifties.
The gap between (vanishing) middle-class workers and the super-rich is the largest ever recorded, yet no one’s calling it the new gilded age. Yet.
Conservatives argue that increasing the minimum wage hurts small businesses and causes layoffs, but there’s ample evidence to prove otherwise.
Meanwhile, Democrats are holding strategic sessions to determine how to best pepper their speeches with more religious and “moral” phrases. But bless Edwards’s lobbyist-fed heart, at least he is saying publicly that “the poverty thing” is a moral issue.
I forgot to include one key event in my recap of 2005: Bill Frist watched a video of Terri Schiavo then declared that she “certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli,” even though her autopsy revealed that she was blind.
(It is, as Paul Simon says, an age of miracles though, isn’t it?)
Frankly, I haven’t met anyone who isn’t glad that 2005 is behind them. As Molly Ivins says, “With a few, shining exceptions (such as Cindy Sheehan) we can bid adieu to 2005 without great regret. Or, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry said to a reporter earlier this year, "Adios, mo-fo."
SANG IN SHOWER: “Slipsliding Away” by Paul Simon
READING: Hoppin’ John’s Charleston, Beaufort, and Savannah Dining at Home in the Lowcountry cookbook (gotta find that poached pear recipe before this weekend)
BEST-OF SPAM: We cure any disease!