For an opinion writer, it’s not recommended you go to the keyboard when you’re mad about something. In your anger, you might just opine a little too far out on the limb. And today I’m mad! Damned mad!
It would be safe to say the root of my anger is mostly the current asinine state of our national politics. But to pour out more angst and/or venom on that subject would be just piling more of the same atop what’s already been said and written. Still, as I sit here, the Dow Industrials are down 512 points which means another $5,000 loss just today in an I-R-A that’s already lost $11,000 in a week. And much of it – not all – but much of it can be attributed directly to said national politics.
Now I read a New York Times story this morning that sales of almost anything considered a luxury item are at their highest points in more than six years. Nordstrom has a waiting list for a Chanel sequined coat costing $9,010. Neiman-Marcus has sold out all it’s Christian Louboutin platform pumps at $775 a pair. Mercedes-Benz sold more cars in July then at anytime in the last five years.
And there’s more. High-end retailers are not marking down pricy items. They’re marking them up! The Times says “The luxury category has posted 10 consecutive months of sales increases over a year ago. In July, the increase was 11.6%; the biggest monthly gain in over a year.”
Can you begin to see why my middle-class ire is near the boiling point? By no means am I suggesting I’m alone here. The evidence that millions and millions of Americans hurting and are damned mad – or should be – is everywhere.
In our little Southwest Oregon community, with a true local unemployment figure our county commissioners put at more than 20%, I’ve developed my own system for measuring the regional economy. It can be found in the classified section of our local paper.
There are more pickup trucks advertised for sale by individuals than at any time since we’ve lived here. And many more vintage vehicles of all kinds not normally on the market in such numbers in these parts. More campers and RV’s. More expensive rifles, shotguns and dozens and dozens of pistols.
The “antiques” ads are even more telling. Really rare furniture, collectable dolls, china, silver and stamp collections; just about anything else of value is listed. If you’ve got spare cash, there are some very good buys. But you have to feel some of these rare items are someone’s keepsakes or family heirlooms and there is great pain in putting them on the market.
We’ve just witnessed in our Congress what columnist Joe Nocera calls “The Tea Party’s war on America.” With almost suicidal fervor, 80 or 90 crazies put on their political explosives vests and took both common sense and our democracy hostage. The resultant damage is everywhere and the already pummeled economy is now hurting millions more Americans because of their ignorant tactics.
Nocera writes there will be even more such ignorance displayed and more damage done when these people get back in town, encouraged from visits with their narrow, minority base at home. I hope he’s wrong. I pray he’s wrong.
Maybe, between now and the 2012 national election, current congressional “leadership” will continue to allow these few inmates to run the asylum. Maybe not. Because, if dozens of national polls of voters are accurate, I think those members with any reasoning capacity left will be hearing a much different message from the home folk. Something like “A pox on both your houses. Stop the hemorrhaging. Stop the fighting. Stop all the social engineering. Use your leadership majority to shut those people up. Do what has to be done to fix the economy. Jobs. Jobs. JOBS!”
I’ve seen registered and likely voter polling numbers of over 80% expressing just those kinds of feelings in samples all across the country. If things don’t change in the next 14 months, we just might see incumbent “slaughter” at the polls in November, 2012. Not just the T-P’ers. But incumbents of all stripes.
Yes, I’m mad. Democrat-Republican-Tea Party-Whig-Mugwump mad! Because the most recent economic problems millions and millions of us are facing daily were largely man-caused and could have been man-avoided. The continued depreciation of home values, the erosion of our retirement plans and other personal assets, bankruptcies and business failings can – in many, many cases – be traced to actions or lack of actions by a Congress cowed and neutered by 80-90 people ignorant in the ways of governance.
Like a convict facing parole, I’ve started marking off days on the calendar. I’m going out to the kitchen now, where the August page is posted on the refrigerator. And with a large red marker, I’m going to cross off another one.