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I'm confused

The more I read the popular press, the more confused I become.

From the editorials I learn that to get help the country, I should:

  • Spend more money to stimulate the economy.
  • Save more money for my retirement.
  • Reduce my consumer debt.
  • Keep paying the mortgage on my house.

Except that:

  • Costs are rising.
  • My house is losing value.
  • I haven't had a pay raise in three years.


  • My kids can't find a good job despite the "job-creators" all getting huge tax breaks.
  • College tuition, even at state schools,is  skyrocketing.
  • My health insurance increase every year in cost and seems to cover less and have a higher deductible.
  • My 401K is now a 201K and headting toward 101K.

Which makes me worry about:

  • The impact of the national deficit on my kids and grandkids.
  • Whether there will be any middle class jobs in 20 years.
  • If I will only be able to afford dry cat food to eat as a retiree.
  • That the entire country has been hoodwinked by the mass media selling the public on policies that are not in its best interest.

When I read the health section, I learn that I have to quit consuming:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Recreational drugs
  • Fats
  • Sugars
  • Carbs
  • Gluten
  • Processed anything
  • Soda pop
  • Fish (mercury)
  • Red meat
  • Salt
  • Food on a stick
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Anything that has flavor

In the Lifestyles section I read that I need spend more of my time:

  • Working at my job to stay competitive in a global worksplace
  • Exercising
  • With my family
  • Building a professional network online
  • Away from my computer
  • Re-connecting with nature
  • Growing my own brussel sprouts, fixing my own toilet and generating my own electricity.

And my goals should include:

  • A thin waist
  • Thick hair
  • Low cholestrol, low blood pressure and low pulse rate
  • Annual physicals, flu shots and other, more invasive, check-ups

Oh, and above all:

  • Don't worry because stress will kill you

A number of years ago, I heard a lecture by Jennifer James, a well-known cultural anthropologist. She remarked that at a certain age, humans recognize their own mortality. One way of facing that reality is to start actually believing the world is going to hell in a handbasket since it's not as hard thinking about leaving a place that seems to be deteriorating as much as it is leaving one that is improving. I wonder if the world really is slipping - economically, environmentally, socially, educationally - or if it is just me thinking about my own finite span here.

Maybe I should just stop reading the paper.

Image from the Library of Congress American Memories collection

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Reader Comments (6)

Why would you want to believe the world is going to hell in a handbasket when, you know, reincarnationally-speaking you're going to be coming back and saying:

"Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket...and can I still use these Euros?"

September 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterViolet Hour Muse

Seems like you have a quandary on your hands. Cat food possibly being the food of choice in retirement and the avoidance of all things processed! Thanks for sharing what many of us are are not alone!

September 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSZSRocks

Well, here I was feeling a little blue, and I thought, what better place to try and cheer myself up but the Blue Skunk Blog.

Don't forget, all the hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters are a sign that God wants Michele Bachmann to run for president. Something else to really look forward to. :-)

September 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

P.S. When is your new book on technology integration for teachers coming out?

September 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

The biggest issue is American society thinks we're smarter now than we were 50-100 years ago. We may have more information and better ways of getting that information in a quick fashion, but we have less logic, common sense, and wisdom. Consider how we now finance everything down to our groceries and bare necessities. Whereas generations ago, debt was frowned upon. You saved your money, then purchased what you wanted/needed. We spend so much on interest and finance charges that there is almost no way of saving. We want everything now. By the age of 25I have more things than my parents had by the time they were 50, yet I have worked less than half as hard.

The worst part of it all is we try to blame the government, the media or someone else. Look in your wallet. How often to you pay for something outright with cash? This was how our economy used to work. That was what built America up to be the superpower it was. Our immaturity is what is destroying our economy.

My family has made a commitment to get rid of all of our debt, and I mean all of it. It's going to be difficult but it'll be worth it in the end when everyone else is foreclosing on their homes and worried about the economy, we'll be fine because we don't owe the banks anything. Now I can just worry about keeping my job. One less thing for me and my family to worry about. Feels pretty darn good to me.

September 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTechChucker

Hi Tom,

I would even argue that our society has been dumbed-down by the media to a large degree. Between talk-radio, cable news, blogs and you-name-it, any idiot's voice, no matter how ill informed can be blasted to the public. (The Blue Skunk is case in point.)

Thanks for your comment. I try to be a "debt-free" kind of guy myself.


September 17, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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