Published on: March 13, 2009
One of the advantages – or disadvantages – of reading as many newspapers as I do each day (more than two dozen, all online) is that I tend to see the commonality of a lot of the coverage.
Many of the papers have carried in recent weeks stories that talk about the psychological impact of the current recession on college students and recent college graduates, many of whom have been living in a bubble of prosperity and entitlement, but are now finding that things may not come as easy for them as expected.
A lot of these young people are having trouble finding jobs, or, in plenty of cases, lost their jobs soon after starting them. I’ve heard these stories plenty in the town where I live, as I stop to chat with people at the bank, in the coffee shop, at the drug store, wherever. At the local schools, even some of the youngest children are aware that mommy and daddy are worried about their jobs.
In some ways, this is a shame. Youth is a time when you aren’t supposed to be concerned about this stuff.
On the other hand, I can’t help but think that this is a good thing, that maybe people will think more about working and creating than investing and just reaping the benefits. While the nation’s problems are complicated and require some fundamental resets on priorities and perspectives, I also think that there is nothing wrong with the US that a better work ethic – and maybe a little humility - wouldn’t fix.
Don't know about you, but I believe that when Jon Stewart had his Howard Beale moment this week in talking about CNBC and James Cramer, he expressed as smartly and passionately as anyone the kind of frustration that so many Americans have during the current crisis.
It isn’t just the misguided choices and priorities that so many in the financial services business seemed to have, but the way that the culture – as reflected by many in the mass media – seemed to worship at that altar.
Last night’s interview of Cramer by Stewart on “The Daily Show” didn’t even seem like a fair fight. Stewart had all the right questions, and Cramer seemed to have almost no answers.
There’s a reason that “The Daily Show” is a primary source of information for so many Americans. It’s because the host and the show’s sensibility are better at boiling down issues and opinions than almost anyone else.
That said, I have to say that I get more addicted all the time to “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, which actually regularly features intelligent conversations about important issues by smart people. There is passionate partisanship here from all over the political spectrum, and I almost always learn something.
This morning, for example, there have been contributions from the likes of Pete Hamill, Peggy Noonan, Gene Robinson and Pat Buchanan…all of whom have been weighing in on the direction of the country, the politics of the moment, various foreign policy issues, and the efforts of the Obama administration.
It’s like a great dinner party from six to nine each morning.
Speaking of Pete Hamill, he had a great line in the New York Times
Hamill was recalling the fact that a couple of decades ago, he and Jack Newfield – both Brooklyn-born writers – were separately compiling a list of the most evil people of the 20th century…and discovered that they each had the same people in the top three positions – Hitler, Stalin, and Walter O’Malley.
(O’Malley, for the uninitiated, is the much-reviled baseball owner who moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.)
A new roster of evil, Hamill said this week, would have to include Bernard Madoff, who began running his $50 billion Ponzi scheme during the 20th century. In fact, Hamill said, Madoff might have to go into the top three…but that it would be important to expand the list to four: “O’Malley would still bat cleanup,” he said.
There was a story the other day from HealthDay News
saying that 98 percent of people training to be dietitians have negative biases against people who are obese and overweight … with some concerned that this could actually impact the quality of care that they offer the people who need their help the most.
Isn’t this sort of like Mother Theresa having a bias against poor people?
One of my favorite reads each day is “The Onion,” the satirical website that offers headlines and stories that almost always make me smile.
This week, the satire hit home with a headline that read, “FDA Approves Salmonella.” The story read, in part:Calling it "perfectly safe for the most part," and "not nearly as destructive or fatal as previously thought," the Food and Drug Administration approved the enterobacteria salmonella for human consumption this week.
The federal agency, which has struggled in recent years to contain the food-borne pathogen, and repeatedly failed to prevent tainted products from reaching store shelves, announced Monday that salmonella was now completely okay for all Americans to enjoy … According to FDA officials, the intracellular bacterium will be commercially available in a variety of forms. Plans are already in the works to offer salmonella as a flavorful topping, food spread, powdered drink mix, dessert gelatin, and as a "no frills" yellow liquid guaranteed to enhance one's overall eating experience.
Very funny. But on some days, it also seems like an approach that the FDA might actually embrace, since approving things is a lot easier than actually practicing oversight.
My wine of the week: the 2006 Cantele Primitivo, a Zinfandel-like Italian wine that is just wonderful with Italian food. Excellent!
That’s it for this week…