Leave Me Alone!
By Patrick F. Cannon
There’s something deep within me that resists being told what to do. I know it can be perverse, but I suspect it’s something imbedded in the American psyche. So, when something like the Cook County soda tax comes along, it rankles me more than it would, for example, a Swede.
People like Michael Bloomberg also annoy me no end. He’s a leader of the “I know better” movement, as was Barrack Obama, who I otherwise rather liked (a sense of humor goes a long way with me). Both believe that most people need to be saved from themselves, and they’re just the men who are wise and smart enough to do it. While neither seems inclined to send we recalcitrants to the Guillotine, they are in the mold of Robespierre and his pals, who decided that cake wasn’t good for the peasantry.
I do not advocate for overindulgence, but I do think that life is tough enough without making it even grimmer by trying to make folks feel guilty for the occasional can of soda pop or hunk of red meat. I’m all for educating people about the harmful effects of too much sugar or fat; after that, leave them alone to decide their own fate.
While I’m being annoyed, let me condemn the processed food companies that are increasingly pandering to the science deniers by labeling their products as proudly “Non GMO.” For those who still don’t know what GMO stands for, it’s “Genetically Modified Organism.” What it really means is that seeds and other plant materials have been developed to resist pests, disease, and drought, and thus require fewer pesticides, herbicides and water. Good things, right? Not if you ask the goofballs – and this sadly includes the European Union – who think GMOs are a plot by the American seed companies to turn us into mutant freaks (nobody apparently asks themselves why they would want their customers to wander about foaming at the mouth).
The last time I looked, the world’s population is still increasing, while the amount of land under cultivation is decreasing. Were it not for American agricultural science, famine would be more widespread, not largely limited to areas of political turmoil.
Before you think I must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, I did notice some good news recently. Despite the longstanding drama and confrontations between the Chicago teacher’s union, the Board of Education, Mayor Emanuel, and Governor Rauner, the high school graduation rate in Chicago has reached 77 percent. Not too long ago, it was less than 50 percent.
Finally, it looks like the middle class is making a comeback. Recent research reveals that 62 percent of Americans fall into the middle and upper middle classes, with 36 percent described as working or lower class. In 2006, before the recession, the numbers were 60 and 38, and as late as 2015, they were 51 and 48. If you can add, you’ll see that only one or two percent are considered really, really rich, although it’s true that income disparity still exists. Frankly, I put this down to the stupidity and culpability of corporate boards of directors, and our overemphasis on sports. And the latter is not just an American problem – have you seen what European soccer players are paid?
Copyright 2017, Patrick F. Cannon