In masks outrageous and austere
The years go by in single file;
But none has merited my fear,
And none has quite escaped my smile.
Elinor Wylie was a gentle romantic, a 19th century lady. Forget the
smile; We might as well look back and laugh out loud at the economic
and political absurdities of 2008.
in being afraid, either: not because there's nothing to fear, just
because worrying doesn't help.
really, can go wrong in 2009? Global warming? Or not enough global
warming to stave off the once-inevitable next ice age? Al Gore
coming again to a theater near you?
Personally, I worry more about drug-resistant bacteria. But when it
comes to germs and other health-related possibilities, the potential
for damage is so scary that there's really no point in worrying
about anything. Just wash your hands and eat a balanced diet, like
drivers used to be the scariest thing on the highway, but now the
driver on the cellphone increases the danger to where one is tempted
to just stay home. This should help with fear of terrorist attack; I
doubt that our North Shore is a preferred target.
course we worry about things that could happen to our loved ones,
but that's part of the human condition; should have thought about it
before having kids. Once you have a child, you never again live free
of fear; that's the trade-off for loving and you do get used to it.
Mostly the kids grow up and are still OK when you die.
taught to fear nuclear war but was more afraid that my son would
someday live in a country run by Chinese communists; neither one has
happened so far. The lesson here: My grandchildren will probably not
live under Muslim rule either. Remember when we didn't even know we
were at war with Muslim extremists? Something terrible may happen
politically to our United States, but it's probably something we
haven't thought of yet.
afraid for Israel, while as always admiring and counting on its
determination to survive. We have some reason even here, lately, to
doubt that democracy is always the answer, but certainly it didn't
work for the Palestinians when a majority of them elected terrorists
to run Gaza.
reassuring to hear Obama threaten retaliation against Tehran if it
attacks Israel. There may be more to his prospective foreign policy
than visualizing world peace, as his liberal and media fan clubs
Democrats who deplore our presence in Iraq argue that we should be
in Afghanistan instead? I'd like to see our armed forces capture bin
Laden, but Americans should know a lot more about the savage Taliban
before it gets bogged down there. Mesopotamia is the cradle of
civilization, Afghanistan its antithesis.
afraid of the Obama presidency because, like the people who voted
for him, I have no idea what he's going to do. Economic events seem
to be taking on a life of their own, and all our politicians will
probably lurch from one impulsive, poorly-conceived solution to
another; there's always a chance that something will accidentally
work. I do think we needed some kind of shake-out and in the long
run the enforced downsizing could save us from the last decade's
cancerous consumerism and a very long-term decline.
Unemployment is scary for many people, though we can get
Massachusetts unemployment insurance — which, we've just learned,
laid-off workers from other states have been coming here to get,
because our benefits are better than what their states offer. Who
knew? Also, who knew that some legislators can get a higher pension
if they lose their election?
among the things we Massachusetts citizens could fear were we so
inclined: despite extraordinarily high unemployment insurance
premiums, the state running out of money in that fund before it's
our turn to collect it. Despite the fifth-highest per capita tax
burden, the state has giant public employee pension and health
insurance liabilities that could drive communities into bankruptcy.
Despite its common-sense status as a top priority, a state
infrastructure that is in serious need of repair, including a public
transportation system overwhelmed by debt.
citizens of the United States, we can worry about the Social
Security and Medicare Ponzi scheme, which could collapse like the
Madoff Ponzi scheme. We should fear the consequences of our ongoing
deficits and the national debt, which leaves little wiggle room to
borrow for national emergencies.
though, that our new economic problems have displaced fears about
illegal immigration, which was the biggest concern a year ago. If
there are no jobs here, and less money for social services, no one
will want to come. Terrible to think about the major problems in
poor countries affected by world economic recession.
other countries never had a constitutional, freedom-based system in
the first place. We can fix what's wrong here. But we have to start
2009: resolve with me to fear nothing, and to keep smiling.