It’s Friday: Things I think about


Every year about this time we’re treated to those government waste stories. Every year they are outrageous. Every year senators and congressmen groan and complain. And, every year, the government keeps on keeping on.

So pardon me if my reaction to these examples of wasteful spending becomes a little less knee-jerk over time.

Government wastes money. There is no such thing as a “lean and mean” government program. It’s just the nature of the beast. This is why smaller government folks do what they do. But, hey if you are one of those Big Government types still finding excuses for the HealthCare.gov debacle, then you are going to love these programs:

— We spent nearly $400,000 to find out whether tea party folks are stupider about Jupiter. Yale professor Dan M. Kahan analyzed the scientific comprehension of various political groups. The result: Tea party folks are MORE scientifically literate than non-tea party folks.

— If you found that appropriate, you’ll have no worries when you find out we spent nearly $1 million on a National Endowment of the Humanities study to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs and internet fan fiction.”

The new normal

As all clear-thinking Americans know, President Barack Obama failed to fix the economy in his first five years. The recovery under O: Non-existent for most working stiffs. Government workers in Washington, D.C., seem to be doing OK, but for the rest of the country the new normal is fewer good full-time jobs.

And you can put a presidential “period” behind that sentence.

Look to Oregon for proof.

The Oregonian newspaper reports that “still, a quarter of a million Oregonians are stuck in part-time jobs or without work at all.”

A new state jobs report shows the unemployment rate dropped from 8.1 percent to 7.3 percent. It’s because people are in lesser, part-time jobs. Just because the unemployment rate drops doesn’t mean people are well-employed. Or as Nick Beleiciks, a state employment economist, says, “Even though we’re seeing (a) jobs recovery, there’s still a lot of people who need to be working more than they are.”

In fact November 2013 marked the first time in Oregon since 2002 “that just as many workers were underemployed as employed.”

Think about that. Please.

Sigh-lent Night

Oh for goodness sake. A school in Long Island, N.Y., took out the words “Holy Infant” and “Christ the Savior” from the lyrics to the Christmas carol “Silent Night,” which was performed at the school. They did it to avoid offending non-Christians.

All they did was offend everyone. School officials have since apologized.

Sigh.

Happy holidays, ladies, gents, trolls

For my loyal readers with high blood pressure, you’ll be glad to know that I’ll be dark with my newspaper column the last Sunday of 2013 and the first Sunday of 2014. Lower your medication dose and enjoy the holidays. I’ll blog periodically as the spirit moves me. Check back here frequently and I’ll see you all on the other side of the calendar.

Coffee Cup Of The Day: Grace Cathedral in San Francisco — one of the coolest spiritual houses on the West Coast. To give you a taste of this special place, they recently performed “The Messiah” there. Here’s a review.

Frederick Fact: Only half of Americans consider Christmas primarily as a religious celebration. That’s according to a new poll from Pew Research. To which my wag friends say: Festivus, anyone?