Yesterday I was driving on the interstate. I passed a series of 18-wheeler trucks and thought: “Convoy!”
Convoy, of course, was the huge hit song that helped to spur a mini-boom of citizens’ band (“C.B.”) radio purchases and use in the 1970s. Convoy told the story of the Rubber Duck, Big Ben, and other truckers as they rocketed across the country, using their C.B. radios to dodge Smokey the Bear and other law enforcement personnel.
For a brief instant in the ’70s, people thought C.B. radio was cool and went out to buy C.B. sets. Of course, the idea of suburbanites in their sedans intruding on the world of the interstate trucker was pretty pathetic, and the boom died almost as soon as it started. Does anyone — truckers included — use C.B. radio anymore?
I think there may have been something beyond the brief flirtation with something new, something deeper at work in the brief popularity of C.B. radio. I think people thought it was cool to talk while you were driving, and to communicate with people all around you without being tied to a land-line phone. C.B. radio had its limitations, but it helped to pave the way for cell phones, smart phones, texting, and all of the other instant, portable communications that dominate modern American society.
My friend Heather turned me on to listening to NPR radio recently and the first day I tuned in they were talking to author Don Peck on Talk of the Nation who wrote a book titled Pinched – Downturns can leave Americans Pinched for years. So I got the book from the library and found it an interesting read.
What Mr Peck did is he studied prior recessions / depressions in the United States and came up with quite a few observations and recommendations of which I will mention a few. He said that during these tough times our politics got meaner (maybe there is hope our politics won’t stay this way) and that bold action by politicians often was hard to come by and that it was much harder to get things done (he’s got that right considering our perception of what the current Congress has done).
He said that people often think that recessions / depressions are very short term and temporary, but that the effects from such events can last for many years afterwards. During these times people are often more concerned about government debt and wanting the budget to be balanced with spending to be cut which he said is understandably, but most likely the opposite of what should be done (his point being that balancing the budget and cutting spending should be done during the good times not the lean years). He notes that people are much more conscience and conservative with their spending often for many years after the initial event.
Peck discusses the effect that recessions / depressions have on older workers who have been laid off and younger workers who have just graduated from college but are unable to find a job. He said these groups often lose their sense of worth, their self esteem and sometimes their identity. Most often they become irritable, angry and resort to drugs or alcohol.
One example he gave was Gus, a man who had been a Vietnam veteran, put himself through night school and became a financial planner only to lose his job. Gus had the opportunity to work as a cashier at Walmart (how many times do you hear people say if I lost my job I would flip burgers at McDonalds) and his neighbors would go through his line and wouldn’t look him in the eye. He said he was quite frankly embarassed, but felt he was doing the right thing.
I can’t remember if it was yesterday or the day before we were watching the video shown above of everyday citizens doing the right thing and getting involved when neeeded.
Awhile back I was at my pool swimming laps and a mother was at the pool with her young daughter and even younger son. The kids were in the pool swimming while their mother was sitting in a lounge chair talking on her cell phone. The little girl started yelling mommy, mommy and when I looked across the pool the little boy was going under the water so I just swam over and pulled him up and sat him of the edge of the pool. His mom was oblivious to what was going on and of course thanked me.
Not as grand a scale rescue as the one above, but I think I may have made a difference. My niece Amy said that I don’t post enough happy articles on the family blog so I hope this one meets with her seal of approval. If the news you are seeing is dreadful as most of it is these days – you can go to http://www.happynews.com where they post stories geared to lift peoples spirits and inspire lives.
It’s only one seat of 435 in the House of Representatives, of course, and simply adds to an already existing Republican majority in that chamber. The question, however, is whether the outcome reflects broader shifts in the views of American voters — and already the spin game seeking to influence the answer to that question has begun. Republicans say the vote is a referendum on President Obama and his economic policies and note that Turner urged voters to send a message to the President. Democrats say the race was decided by unique local issues — like a large presence of conservative Orthodox Jews who are angry with President Obama’s position on Israel — and add that Weprin was just an inept candidate. As a result, they argue, the result is no reflection whatsoever on voters’ opinions of President Obama.
The spin game is an effort to control the message to the gullible schmucks like us, the great unwashed who make up the general electorate. The real group to watch is the Democrats now in Congress, who are fully capable of separating spin from reality. They may look at the results of NY-9 and see a race where national Democratic committees spent more than $500,000 in a futile effort to save a supposedly safe seat seat and where all of the get-out-the-vote machinery was activated — and the Democrat still lost. If those Democrats currently serving see President Obama as an albatross who will lead them and their party to disaster in November 2012, they may stop following that lead, no matter what congressional Democratic leaders like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi say.
Professional politicians tend to be very protective of their own political skins. If we see more Democrats who are up for election in 2012 peeling away from President Obama in the weeks and months to come — in connection with the President’s current jobs bill, for example — their actions will send a more profound message than the silly political spin game ever could.