It’s long been acknowledged that Americans tend to vote their pocketbooks. Ideologies aside, we worry that our wages can’t keep pace with the ever-increasing prices at the gas pump and in the grocery aisles. Therefore, many of our votes go to those whose campaigns promise to keep the cost-of-living increases to a bare minimum and housing starts booming.
Now that we’ve been enlightened by random Google searches, our worries transcend the mere costs of things and offer a view of a larger, more comprehensive picture. Last week, there were respectable polls suggesting that 51 percent of (presumably) eligible voters have as their first political concern, The Economy.
It seems doubtful that The Economy, along with Inflation, at least as viewed in this midterm election cycle, encompasses much more than concern over the cost of a gallon of gasoline or a gallon of milk. While The Economy at once sounds more erudite than lower-case the economy, it just sounds that way. What it represents is, in all reality, very little knowledge of a very complex subject.
I studied economics at the University of Illinois in what seems a lifetime ago. The department wasn’t located in the Political Science Department, but in a separate building across campus, sharing quarters with the College of Capitalism. The Department of Advertising and Marketing were, oddly enough, in the Poly Sci building. My hours in the lecture hall and the handful of papers I wrote earned me the equivalent of a minor in the subject. I was hoping to land a job as an economics reporter at a Pulitzer-winning newspaper. That didn’t happen. I’m glad, in a way, because what I would have brought to such a gig would have been as questionable as my covering the Fairy Dust beat.
In the early ‘70s, the textbook I studied was Economics, an introductory textbook by the American economist Paul Samuelson. The textbook was first published in 1948, and has appeared in nineteen subsequent editions, the most recent in 2009. It was the best-selling economics textbook and still is, despite the number of Nobel Prizes in Economics that have been awarded that must reflect at least some advances in thinking in economics.
What this has to do with Fairy Dust is that an enlightened tract on basic Keynesian economics has maintained its stature despite the award-winning challenges to its very tenets. In other words, there are volumes of information that prove we don’t know squat.
And that’s just among academics. The rest of us don’t stand a chance in hell.
While many of the issues facing us in Tuesday’s election seem simple, black-and-white ballot measures, others require examination of vast gray areas of little concern or consequence. Yet, there they are on the ballots. Each demands our attention and clearly effects The Economy.
For instance, just this morning we had all of our electronic timepieces changed magically by Jeff Bezos. This is a twice-a-year ritual that has us alternately losing an hour of sleep or gaining one. Nobody knows why we do this. This past March, the Senate passed a bill to make daylight savings time permanent—this, despite the increase in potential health risks like obesity and depression. The House chose not to act on the Senate bill because the House can’t even agree on whether indoor plumbing is a good idea.
I’d like this matter to be settled before Spring, so I don’t lose another hour of sleep.
Crime is always an issue, mostly in densely populated cities with rat-infestation problems. Even those of us out here in the boonies are against crime. But which crimes are the politicians talking about? And why do some gun-toting lunatics seem to think that crimes committed while armed should be met with the citizen good guys shooting the bad guys. This is why we have cops.
Speaking of narcotics, both of the Dakotas are considering if recreational pot use should be legalized. I’ve traveled through both of the Dakotas countless times. Legalizing pot could only help.
Congress seems to be pushing items off of its legislative agenda and onto the local ballot boxes.
Can’t some elected official in Washington decide what music should be played at State dinners?
And why is it up to us to decide if saucers filled with a lethal mixture of Mountain Dew and arsenic are an acceptable way to kill cockroaches? Is it because they don’t want to be blamed for the inadvertent deaths of house cats?
What about flies? Show me one politician who would address the issue of Fall flies—those tiny little buzzing bastards—and I’ll show you a politician we’d all want elected.
I realize that what I am proposing might be seen as an effort to weaken the First Amendment, but can’t we figure out some way to make racism and antisemitism illegal? Maybe if we’re not allowed to be a racist, in a generation or two it might have faded away. Currently, it seems the biggest cost of being a bigot is to be suspended temporarily from your job and losing your Twitter account and a few endorsement deals.
And I can’t think there’s a Jew alive who would care be part of a community outreach with Kyrie Irving. I believe that no amount financial loss or in-service hours can erase the fact that Mr. Irving has already shown us his true colors.
Finally, on the issue of abortion, most Americans want Roe v. Wade to be upheld. Not most Democrats, Republicans, or Independents; most Americans. Period. That reflects a political stance of not listening to one’s constituents, and not believing that women are fully capable of making their own decisions about their reproductive health.
Like the whole LGBTQ thing: It’s none of the government’s damn business.
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
In Italian, ribollita means re-boiled. This is a hearty soup that seems perfect for the cold night about to return.
2 cans cannellini beans
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup parsley
1 bunch kale, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 large potato, chopped
½ small head Savoy cabbage, chopped
1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
5 thick slices of stale bread
Heat oil in stock pot. Add onions and cook for 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and parsley; cook for a minute or two. Add kale, carrots, celery, potato, cabbage, and chard and stir well to coat. Add tomatoes and beans. Add enough water to cover vegetable by about 2 inches. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the bread and add a little olive oil. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. Re-heat and serve.