Friday, January 30, 2009

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

With all the hubbub about potential financial meltdowns, skyrocketing unemployment numbers, and questionable wars taking up space front and center in the daily headlines, many of the news stories pushed into our peripheral vision are those which speak about who we are as a society…about where our individual and collective priorities lay. The following points represent what I call, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of our modern times.


The Good - For those of you who regularly watch any of the daily network news programs, or who pay a visit to Beyond The Spectrum’s sister page on You Tube, you have undoubtedly noticed what a black eye Wall Street and other financial institutions have given themselves of late. With hat-in-hand, many of these institutions came begging to the federal government for an infusion of taxpayer money meant to provide stabilize as a result of their bad business investments, chief among them loaning money to risky borrowers en masse. At the same time, the CEO’s and other high ranking employees of these financially teetering institutions were giving themselves multi-million dollar bonuses and other perks of excess.
However, flying under the radar of cloud of bad news was the very good deed of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. A self-made millionaire, Bloomberg, according to the most recent release of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the donated some $235 million dollars of his own money to over 1,200 different charities in 2008, making him the most single charitable donor in the United States. So we tip our hats off to His Honor. It’s nice to see that there is still some humanity left among America’s financially blessed.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/nyregion/27bloomberg.html?_r=1&sq=philanthropy&st=cse&scp=2&pagewanted=print

The Bad – Actually, two stories tied notoriety for this category, both coming from Michigan. The first is the death of a 93-year-old man; not an unusual expectation given his advanced age. However, it is the manner of death that is most telling about what our priorities as a society. Mr. Marvin Schur (I prefers to use his full name and title, at least to preserve some dignity in the face of his ignominious passing), according the Oakland County Medical Examiner, froze to death in his Bay City, Michigan home a few days after having his home’s electrical consumption limited by the local power utility for $1,000 in unpaid bills, not totally unexpected (again) due to his advanced age and limited income.
According to the neighbor who found Schur’s body, “his furnace was not running, the insides of his windows ere full of ice the morning we found him.” I guess America consumes not just it’s young.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090126/ap_on_re_us/frozen_indoors

The second piece of bad news from the state which currently has the highest unemployment rate (and as if it could tolerate more bad news) was the idiotic ruling by the state’s Court of Appeals. In a case brought by Lansing School District middle school teachers, the court ruled that disciplinary actions taken against students are [exclusively] within the school local school board. The case is based on the actions of the local board who failed to expel students for assaulting teachers by throwing chairs at them; they were simply suspended and allowed to return some time afterwards. For those who criticize the effectiveness of our public schools for preparing our children academically to compete in a globally-integrated and competitive economy, consider the conditions they are forced to work under.

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200990128052

The Ugly-Finally, the soap opera that has become Illinois politics is finally over. Late yesterday, the Illinois House voted to impeach now ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich. Days before yesterday’s action, the disgraced Blagojevich had gone on a Hail Mary PR blitz in an effort to save his job. Accused of attempting to sell now President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat, he had hired a Tampa-based PR firm—the same one contracted by social pariah and suspected wife murderer, former police sergeant Drew Peterson—to create a campaign designed to win over American sympathy in the face of then-mounting calls for him to step down. Perhaps what made his ill-conceived media blitz to alter his public image ugly was his protestation that his “persecution” put him in the same company as “Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Ghandi.” Furthermore, there was the “revelation” that he was going to offer the seat to talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, which even Stevie Wonder could see she was never going to accept, but opted to select another high-profile African-American, Roland Burris to replace Obama). But upon looking at the debacle objectively, unseen was the apparent pattern of invoking high profiles African-American names in his attempt to gain public favor. I submit the reason for this was due to African-Americans’ sense of undying loyalty to the Democratic Party as well as their sense of forgiving and [re-] embracing unsavory types.
After his acquittal in the mid 1990’s former football great O.J Simpson was cheered and embraced by the black community; he even traveled around the country, speaking at predominantly black churches. Michael Jackson was given the same treatment after his acquittal of molestation charges, and, in like fashion, was well-received at black churches. In a more related example, ex-Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry was re-elected and re-embraced by the people of the overwhelmingly black and Democratic nation’s capital, despite having been convicted of federal charges related to his often-seen video tape of his smoking crack in a hotel room with an undercover informant. Clearly, Blagojevich has not only been watched over the past couple months, but he has been watching as well.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=6723687&page=1
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