I returned today from supporting the local economy to read a headline on Politico.com that said we are all “sour and angry.”
Of course, Politico, based in Washington D.C, is a political website and no matter the day of the week, everything on that site is sour and angry. Because our politics must be sour and angry because someone is always losing and they are annoyed about it and need someone to blame and there always is trouble in River City.
So I’d like to report what I saw of us, out among the sour and angry Americans.
A good number of them were doing 80 in the interstate, apparently burning off that sourness and anger by speeding. The one guy who maybe had a right to be sour and angry was the one guy who got caught, which is the risk of speeding past the state police barracks.
At the home center those sour and angry Americans had loaded up their double-wide pick-ups with lawn furniture, cement, grass seed, bricks, and tools so they could express their sourness by adding a patio and raising their property value.
Other sour and angry Americans were eight deep at the paint counter, because nothing seems to express dismay more than brightening a long-unpainted room.
And even more of them were lined up ten-deep at the gas station, where the price of gas dropped 20 cents in the past 2 weeks, to fill up their double-wides because clearly absolutely nothing expresses sourness and anger than by purchasing more of the one thing you complain about the most.
Of course my own neighborhood was not able to escape this wave of unhappiness.
Neighbors across the street are expressing their sourness by remodeling their kitchen while next door to them the anger was palpable as the family remodeled the cellar of their McMansion probably to give their sons a place to burn off the energy.
And next to them you could feel the sourness as you walked by during the renovation of the first floor of the 100-year-old house.
And you had to admire the effort by the owners of the oldest house on the street who made a point of letting the powers that be know their anger by bringing up to code the electrical and plumbing systems in the 125-year-old house. Bully for them.
But the big thinkers say we are all sour and angry.
So I returned to read this:
“The big run-up in gas and food and home prices has really caused great hardship for many households,” said Richard Curtin, a veteran economist who has run the University of Michigan consumer survey since 1976. “And the Biden administration made a critical error in saying it would be transient and people should just tough it out. It wasn’t transient. A lot of people couldn’t just tough it out. And it caused a big loss of confidence in [President Joe Biden’s] policies.”
Which is not untrue.
But, no mention that the “big run-up” in gas prices began two years ago when the world’s largest oil producers, including the U.S., cut production 10 percent.
And no mention that a severe and continuing drought in many of the U.S. food-growing regions kicked up prices five years ago.
All of which was made worse by Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.
Stories like this a just part of the daily churn of the news business: So and so is still in office? Find something to complain about.
And the big thinkers do love to complain.
So this in that same article: Mark Zandi, who has been a leading American economist since the Revolutionary War, it seems, said Americans have never seen gasoline prices rise so fast so quickly.
In 2008 the average price of gas rose a buck in 20 seconds and everyone traded in their pick-up truck for a Prius.
And then there was the Arab Oil Embargo in the early 1970s when there was no gas and we all waited line for hours to get 5 gallons.
But according to the economists, it’s worse today than ever.
Because in the prediction business, it has to be worse.
Know why they get those results?
Because they ask a question like this: “Last week gas prices rose substantially. Does that bother you?”
Unless you’re John D. Rockefeller, you’re going to say Yes.
And in today’s click-bait online news business, bad news sells.
In the old print days, the axiom was, “If it bleeds, it leads.”
Today, the business I grew up in is a hedge-fund addicted crack head street walker who will say anything for a buck.
Yes, to simplify, today unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, the lowest its been since 1968, when the Beatles were hanging around in an aircraft carrier of a movie studio waiting for Peter Jackson to show up to make sense of all their musical noodling.
In the day, newspapers would run that story atop Page One and reporters would be sent out to interview new shopkeepers, and people buying goods, workers just hired, who bought a new car, put their kids through college.
And yes, there was a certain cheerleading hokeyness to it, but it was something we all shared because we do share good times and bad.
But today, we want the truth, so the story is written as if something is wrong that all that many people are working.
You know who should be sour and angry (besides the Ukrainians)?
Teachers, and public health officials, doctors and nurses, firefighters and cops, and that said I have no patience for those among these groups who declared wearing a mask or getting a shot violated their rights when it is that posture that threatened the health of the people they were paid to serve. Ya got vaccinated as a kid, that’s why you’re alive today.
Want tough, snowflake, try running a live shooter drill for fourth graders, terrifying them for an hour and then telling them that it was just a drill and everything is fine.
Welcome to the new normal.
And if you don’t hate it, you’re not breathing.
There is so much to do, and we waste all this time.
We need better job training, a complete health care system, help for care givers and the working poor; higher wages, more affordable housing. Fix the roads before they fall into the rivers. Clean up the rivers before everything in them dies. Build more parks. Make life better.
We’re the richest fucking country in modern history, so we can do it.
Sometimes I think we are sour and angry because it’s easier.