I am feeling grumpy about a few things. Maybe you share my discontent. Each item represents entire categories of rants too deep and broad to list here.
Relentless myths. Honey bees are not endangered. In fact, according to the United Nations, as reported in the New York Times, the number of beehives around the world has risen by 26% and there are more honey bees on the planet now than at any time in human history. This preponderance is actually bad for the environment because honey bees are good at bumping out competing pollinators, and a biodiversity of pollinators is crucial for an ecosystem.
Mind numbing hawkers. How about those Medicare Advantage commercials barking from out of the television like a Carny on the Midway? I realize most people younger than 55 don’t watch television and stream instead, still I feel embarrassed for my cohort to be represented by actors playing such idiots. In a recent study The Commonwealth Fund found significant majorities of both Traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage enrollees were satisfied with their care (reported in Forbes). The same article notes that those obnoxious ads that pound the airwaves this time of year, make exaggerated claims contradicted in the fine print.
Outright Lies. Political ads lie, at least they are free to lie because the federal government would get clobbered by free speech concerns if it intervened. Former FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, speaking in an NPR report from 2022, thinks the least we could do is require political ads to say who the people are paying for it. “It’s not a big deal when a commercial for Corn Flakes says it’s Kellogg’s, you know that, right? The problem is that a political ad that is sponsored by Americans for Puppies and the Flag, you’ve got no idea who that is.”
Sins of omission. The national news media is covering the war between Israel and Hamas as they did Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: non-stop footage of carnage. It is no different from their coverage of a big hurricane — an effort to slow down reality so we can rubberneck the havoc along the side of the road. If nothing sells like a crime story then nothing sells out like war in real time. What happened to the rest of the important news of the day that would have been reported if the chaos and mayhem that sells hadn’t come along? Sure, we need to know what is happening and many of us have personal concerns with these violent events, but our sense of reality is misshapen when we are trapped in such an echo chamber.
Profitable hysteria. Who is making money or political hay from perpetuating the myth that Social Security is going broke? It isn’t. In fact, at the end of 2022 it had a 2.83 trillion dollar surplus according to AARP. It is true, according to everybody, that if left without repair, in 2034 all beneficiaries would have to take a 20% cut. But there are some easy fixes to that dilemma. 1) raise the SS tax from 6.2 to 8.1%; or 2) raise the full retirement age from 67 to 68; or 3) simply subject all wages to SS tax rather than stopping at $147,000. Any of these actions would return Social Security to long term health.
Okay, I’m done ranting now. Promise.