Returned from the world of Jane Austen, Shakespeare, the first apostolic mission to England, Wordsworth’s Lake District, and the romantic north Yorkshire abbey of the sweet singer Caedmon, I reenter the real world of current news. I skim the Wall Street Journal, the best newspaper in America:
Increased violence, I see, threatens possible civil war in the Sinai following the overthrow of the Morsi government. North Korea has been caught shipping weapons materials (and perhaps other things) through the Panama Canal, and the Obama administration defers to the United Nations on the matter — thus leaving it, ultimately, to Russia and China.
Helen Thomas, the legendary former dean of the White House press corps, a very active journalist until effectively forced out by controversy just a very few years ago, has died at 92. I spent a few hours seated next to her at a big formal Washington event late in the last Bush administration, and learned that, despite her famous crustiness and leftwing politics, she was, for personal reasons, unexpectedly fond of Mormons.
The Journal’s front page headline reads “Growth Outlook Stuck in Neutral: Forecasts Trimmed as Spending Slows.” Apparently, there will be no great improvement in the United States economy in 2013, either. Which prompts me to cry out, with renewed fervor, “Hope and Change!” and “Four More Years!” and to wonder whether a constitutional amendment might be passed, as at least one congressman has publicly hoped, to permit a third term for Mr. Barack Obama so that he can continue to work his wonders. At times like these, we need a proven master of economics, finance, and business at the helm.
The once racing commodities market has slowed down substantially because a tanking economy doesn’t need nearly so much silver, petroleum, soy, and etc,, as a healthy economy does. So commodity prices are down! And so is illegal immigration! Why? Because the American job market isn’t nearly the temptation that it has been in the past to unskilled workers from Third World countries. I had always thought that the ultimate solution for the problem of illegals crossing over from Mexico, far better than walls and increased border patrols, would be to make the economies of Mexico and Central America more like that of the United States. I confess that the converse, making the economy of the United States more like those of Central America and Mexico, had never really occurred to me. But it has been brilliantly effective. Another problem solved!
And, of course, Detroit has declared bankruptcy. After decades of highly effective one-party Democratic rule, a virtual Petri dish for laboratory displays of liberalism, nearly 70% of Detroit’s parks have been closed during just the past four years, property and income taxes are the highest in the state of Michigan, forty percent of street lights don’t work, three quarters of city ambulances don’t run, the municipal business tax doubled last year alone, the police force has been cut by forty percent in a decade, nearly forty percent of all city revenues go to pay pensions and benefits pushed through by powerful government employee unions, some of the nation’s toughest gun laws are in place, the city has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the country, and police response times are five times longer than the national average.
Who will be next? Here’s a tentative prediction: Oakland, a run-down and perpetually Democratic city in the Bay Area of the increasingly third-world state formerly known as California, has that state’s highest crime rate, but recently laid off a hundred policemen in order to fund retirement benefits and pension obligations for its unionized employees. Murders and robberies soared by 25% last year. So the city borrowed an additional $210 million . . . which all went to finance pensions, in hopes of avoiding still steeper cuts to the police force.
Other candidates? Right now, Philadelphia and Chicago — heavily Democratic cities, both — look like excellent prospects.
I prefer Jane Austen’s world, on the whole.
But we shouldn’t give up optimism. There’s always room for a sunny disposition. Consider, for example, this house, in Moore, Oklahoma, as it appeared in the days just after the devastating tornadoes there:
A friend of mine used to include a signature at the end of his emails that read as follows: “Where are we going? And why are we in this hand basket?”
Posted from Phoenix, Arizona