Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Economy

It seems that all we are hearing about lately is the economy and what is wrong with it. What is wrong with the economy? Interest rates are the lowest they have been in years, property is affordable and it hasn't been a better time to buy a home in years, so what is missing?
The answer is "Consumer confidence". We have several presidential hopefuls making their bid for the white house and they all have the same message, "The economy is bad and I can fix it". This makes people scared and sets them in the "Wait and see" mood. As long as that is going on, money will not change hands and the economy will remain stagnant.
We went down this road before during the first Gulf war, the other Bush was president and the news was constantly reporting that there was a recession. President Bush lowered the interest rates to stimulate the economy. What that means is stimulate people to borrow money to get money changing hands, flowing, trickling down. However, with the news creating fear of recession and an election coming up, people waited. It wasn't until Clinton took office that people decided that they better act before rates go back up. Before you knew it, America was singing praises of President Clinton for getting us out of the recession. The truth of the matter is that it was actually Bush who did the work Clinton just restored "Consumer confidence".
Here we are again, in the same situation, interest rates are low, housing is affordable and an election is on the horizon. It really doesn't matter who takes office, people will know that it is now the time to start borrowing and spending money and the economy will recover.

Monday, January 21, 2008

We humans are fragile creatures

Lately, I have noticed that more and more people I know are going through a divorce. Being divorced myself, I often joke, "50 percent of all marriages end in divorce and the rest end in death. At least I got out alive". Seriously though, it seems to be more common these days. We have gotten away from building families and staying together. Family values seem to have gone to the archives like 8 track, vinyl and beta.
Part of the problem is that we get bombarded with propaganda encouraging us to be strong and independent. Television shows like "Sex in the City" portray single women in the most glamorous ways. The radio waves are full of songs by women artists lashing out at men. Kelly Clarkson "since you've been gone" and "because of you", Beyonce "Irreplaceable" are just a few examples of songs that encourage women to be single.
Don't get me wrong here, I think that women should be strong and independent. I just have to wonder if it isn't going beyond that. Are we getting to the point where it is better to be strong than happy? You can fluff it up as much as you like but it still takes less than an ounce of pressure to pierce human skin and even less than that to break a heart. So, are we really as strong as we think we are? No matter how you look at it, we humans are fragile creatures. Not a single one of us ever got anywhere without someone else. Even Oprah, the most powerful woman in America, has Steadman.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's not newsworthy

One of the first things I learned in High School journalism class was, "What is newsworthy". If I go to the store for a loaf of bread or a pregnancy test, it's boring. If Britney Spears does the same thing, it's news. Now, don't get me wrong, I know that celebrities gave up their right to private life when they decided to be famous. But did they give up their right to privacy? And even if they did, are the mundane routines of life newsworthy when they are being performed by a celebrity? Personally, I don't find it any more interesting that Gwyneth Paltrow went to the hospital than anyone else. I hope she is alright and I think that she is amazing. I also think that if she wants to make a press announcement about her hospital visit, there are some people that would be interested and if not, it is none of our business. What is our business and what we have the right to know is what movie she plans to do next, how she got the role, who wrote and directed it, etc.
I just think that the paparazzi and the reporters need to spend efforts, time and airways talking about movies, scripts and the art of acting.
Now, for a moment, back to Britney. She goes to the store to buy a pregnancy test and it makes the news. One of two things is possible here. One, she can afford to have an assistant go to the store for her and get the test so it doesn't make national news and she just didn't think of that. Or, she has been famous since she was a fetus so she did think of that and is trying to use the media to create a buzz about her being pregnant so that her name stays in the headlines.
You might think that she is a crazy, mixed-up, dumb blond. I think she fooled everyone and played this just the way she wanted to, not because I am a huge fan of Britney but I am a fan of Ockham's Razor.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Side Effects

I was watching TV which I don't do very often, and I saw a commercial for a new drug. I won't mention the name because I fear repercussions (actually, I just don't remember the name). I believe it was an allergy medication. Now, while they try to distract me with these images of people smiling and strolling through a field full of beautiful flowers, the announcer mumbles the side effects. "Side Effects may include headache, nausea, dizziness", he says. Now, as an allergy sufferer myself, I think I would rather just deal with the sneezing and runny nose. But wait, the announcer is still going, "Some patients may experience loss of hearing, rectal bleeding...". I remember the old saying that sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. We aren't talking about Rabies here, we are talking about allergies. Believe it or not, he wasn't done. He continued my saying that, "In rare cases stroke or death may occur". Well, as long as there aren't any serious side effects. Did you say death? That sounds more serious than a runny nose.
Has our society gotten to the point where the drug companies no longer actually care about our health? It just doesn't seem profitable to me to kill off your customers. Another good question is, "What is the Food and Drug Administration thinking about this"? It should be up to the FDA to look closely at the fine print for little side effects like death.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A bird in the hand, deal or no deal.

I am embarrassed to admit that, on occasion, I get sucked into reality television. With the writers on strike and non-reality tv (that's right, the fake kind) just doing repeats, what else is there to watch. This is not an easy transition to make. I lose my safety net of being able to tell myself, "it's just make-believe". Unscripted, human behavior can be a little disappointing to watch sometimes.
Todays example was "Deal or no deal". Now they say that the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math and "deal or no deal" is the show for these same people. Just once I would like to see a Las Vegas odds maker get on that show. Granted, he would only leave with just over $200,000 but he would leave with it. Time after time I see people pass that up and walk away with just chump change.
Greed is a tremendous driving force and the lure of a million dollars is too much temptation for people to make wise decisions. I honestly don't know if I would be able to walk away. But a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.