The age of wisdom or of foolishness?
By CURT SWARM
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing...Charles Dickens, A Tail of Two Cities
Sound familiar? Charles Dickens couldn’t have described March, 2013, better. On the one hand we had the sequester, a preset amount of governmental spending cuts scheduled to go into effect, unless congress took action to correct it. The sequester was considered by most economic experts to be of such drastic measures—it could throw the country back into depression—that congress would surely act. Not.
On the other hand, the Dow Jones Industrial Index hit an all-time high—usually an indication of economic good times. Strange. One the one hand we had catastrophe, on the other, jubilation. Sort of oxymoronic, contradictory, or at least, counter-intuitive. It seems that investors weren’t all that worried about budget-cuts and invested in the future like there was one, and a bright one at that. Classic best-of-times/worst-of-times.
So which is it? Should we run out and commit suicide, or pull our retirement savings out of mothballs and invest in the stock market? If you have a lucky coin, this might be a good time to flip it.
Another indicator that our fearless leaders just might not have their heads screwed on tight is the label they stuck on the economic door slamming—”sequester.” “Sequester” is a funny word for otherwise capable, well educated, professional people playing chicken with the economy. I usually associate “sequester” with a jury of people being locked down so that they can’t go home and leak information to the press, or until they reach a decision. I didn’t see our legislators being locked down. They came and went as they pleased while Rome burned. Dictionary.com defines “sequester” more in the terms of seclusion or withdrawal into solitude. Neither of which congress did. I’ll offer up a better term for congress’ inability to act: “Stupidity.”
Shifting gears, but keeping with the theme of, “Is this the the age of foolishness or wisdom?”— there’s a new test out that measures your chances of dying within the next 10 years, if you’re at least 50 to start with. Called the Mortality Index, incredulously, people who are thin or of normal weight have a higher risk of dying withing the next ten years. Can you believe it?! Diet and exercise aren’t even mentioned. After all that brow beating we’ve taken over the national epidemic of obesity, and the importance of the Body Mass Index, bla bla bla, now we are being told that a woman slightly overweight has a lower mortality rate than one of normal weight. Good grief! Would someone please just make up their mind?
By the way, the average age of death for a male in Russia is 60.1 years. Yep. Seems there’s a national problem with smoking and drinking. Russia’s population is actually shrinking, people are dying off faster than they are being born—not a good thing when you consider it takes younger people to support the old. I hope to shout we don’t see some report in the future claiming that smoking and drinking (to excess) are good for you.
So, for us here in the United States, March roared in like a lion. We’ll see if it goes out like a lamb, whether this is the spring of hope, or the winter of despair.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com