Archive for the ‘cnn.com’ tag
I’m deeply saddened by this news, but Chrisopher Htichens, a writer and thinker whom I deeply admire for both his literary mastery and intellectual thought, has announced in a characteristic brilliantly-written column that he has esophageal cancer, a form of the disease that most folks don’t come back from. He was diagnosed two months ago.
Here is the entire interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper:
And here is Hitchens himself on the Topic of Cancer.
Sorry friends, loved ones and other readers: if the following happens, I’m taking the first bus and/or RAV4 to Toronto:
CPAC Convention, Washington — Former Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, rallying a crowd already optimistic about their chances for success in the 2010 midterm elections.
“I think the developments we’ve seen over the last several months are enormously encouraging,” Cheney told the audience of conservatives, pointing to Republican victories in recent elections in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
“I think 2010 is going to be a phenomenal year, and I think Barack Obama is a one-term president,” he added, to huge cheers.
The audience, who had come to the conference to network and see both established and up-and-coming stars of the Republican Party, went wild when the former vice president came on stage. One young man started screaming, “Oh my f*%#@ing God!” A few people tried to start a chant of “run, Dick, run!,” though it did not catch on.
“A welcome like that is almost enough to make me want to run for office,” Cheney said. But before anyone could get any ideas, he assured the crowd he would not be running. … — CBS News Political Hotseat
Browsing CNN’s Web site tonight, I came across this column from Bob Greene, who opined that those who lived through the Great Depression are owed an apology from “the rest of us.”
They don’t deserve what they are going through. You hear it again and again from money experts: Take the long view of the economy. If you don’t need cash from your stock market accounts in the next five to 10 years, leave it in there. Time will heal our current woes — the economy, even when it’s in tatters, runs in cycles. Just wait it out and be patient. Especially young people — fiscal stability will arrive again in your lifetime. You’ll see.
Nice words. Yet they leave out that one group of people — the people who have a right to be terrified when they are told the economy will only be brutal in the short term. They leave out the people to whom the short term is all they have: our parents. Our grandparents. The men and women who never should have had to worry about their personal security again.
First, I take exception with Greene’s premise that “the rest of us” owe the folks who lived through the Great Depression an apology. No. Those individuals and companies who engaged in bad bets, those who were financially moronic enough to take on loans they knew they couldn’t pay back and the banks who supplied them, perhaps, are the ones who should be doling out the apologies. To say everyone should apologize to older people who lived through the largest economic demise in our history, without a shred of evidence to suggest the Great Depression generation is suffering anymore than anyone else, is flawed reasoning.
Second, experiencing periods of financial hardship — and financial gain — is a part of life. Why should these folks never have to “worry about their personal security again?” Whichever worldview one takes, I can show we aren’t living in an idealized society or universe. If one takes the Christian view (which seems to be the default here in America), these folks, along with the rest of us, have much to worry about because, of course, as doctrine teaches, this is a fallen world and events do not play out to our liking. In fact, based on evangelical viewpoint, events play out to an increasingly sinister plot, where evil reigns and where God, who for reasons we can’t rightly figure out, either has no desire to intervene, can’t intervene or simply will not, has called his son to eventually take those who have accepted him home, thus rescuing them, based on their faith, from eternal judgment. Amid this cosmic struggle for our souls, our finances is hardly a primary focus.
Or, if one doesn’t believe, here’s the alternate viewpoint: These folks should have to worry about their security as long as they are alive because there is no rhyme or reason to the universe, this country or its finances. Thus, personal responsibility and smart decisions should be every person’s calling card.
We didn’t realize that they would be asked to do it again, in 2009 — we didn’t realize that our parents and grandparents, the vestiges of their retirement income suddenly diminished and threatened, would be asked once more to stoically accept hardships they had done nothing to bring upon themselves.
Really? Again, there is no evidence presented to suggest that at least some or a few of the folks who were alive during the depression were not involved recently in some subprime or market dealings. This source suggests seniors today are doing OK financially:
“Even in their current precarious state, it is important to note that today’s seniors are better prepared for retirement than subsequent generations will be,” said Tatjana Meschede, lead author of Living Longer on Less: The New Economic (In)Security of Seniors, a just-published report on the SESI. “They have benefited from pensions, jobs with significant retirement benefits, and a stronger social safety net than subsequent generations will enjoy.”
But Greene retorts:
Think of the disdain they must feel for the Wall Street titans who have hurt them [Who hurt others as well!]. When they hear about a brokerage executive who spends $1,400 on a wastebasket, their first thought undoubtedly is not that the man has taken advantage of his shareholders, or of the federal government.
This is likely a disdain for how any person making less than, say, 50k feels. Putting aside the fact that he is making a lot of assumptions about what a particular person might think or feel without himself being omnipresent or omniscient, Greene concludes:
All that the oldest Americans asked for, in their final years, is a sense of safety, of stability. Twice in the nation’s history, they knew what it was like to go to sleep night after night with their stomachs knotted in fear. What we as a country owed them was nights, at the end, when they never again had to feel that dread in the darkness.
Now they are feeling it, and there is nothing that we — their sons and daughters, their grandsons and granddaughters — can do to convince them that their fear in the night is groundless. What they are being forced to go through now is — in the most elemental sense of this word — a shame. I hope they know how sorry we are.
Did he ask anyone specifically whether all they wanted in their final years was stability and safety? Logically, there could be a rebel senior out there who still likes to ride the financial roller coaster every now and then. There’s no need to blow it up or blame it on the collective whole.
But back to the point, in short, what seniors are being forced to go through now is what all of us are being forced to go through: a fluctuation in the world and national economy and an event in the thing we call life. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not God playing dice; it’s not financiers playing devil’s advocate. We don’t owe anyone anything. It just is.