I thought last week's bi-partisan compromise on raising the debt ceiling and cutting the deficit was supposed to avert the next catastrophic global crisis. It seems, however, that ever since that bill became law, more and more bad news has been accumulating. (It at least prompted me to teach my ENG 100 students the plural of "crisis" (crises, not crisises).
On a side note, I decided to give any of my ENG 100 students a little extra credit if they took the time to write an email to Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, who voted against raising the debt ceiling last week, expressing their reasons for supporting or disapproving of his controversial vote.
Crisis #1: The U.S. government's credit rating was downgraded by S&P from AAA to AA+. Is this a real crisis? I bet many of students would be happy with a grade of AA+. The explanation behind the downgrade was not earth-shattering: the U.S. has a dangerous level of debt and a dysfunctional, polarized government. Ok, I guess that is a crisis -- the kind of permanent, standing crisis that is becoming more and more normal.
Crisis #2: The stock market seems to be plummeting. Personally, I don't put much stock in stocks. That's probably because I don't really own any. If the falling stocks end up making unemployment worse, then I'll begin to worry. But I just read that the unemployment rate actually improved a modest tenth of a percent over the last month, so that's something positive--not much, but something.
Crisis #3: Americans are still dying in Afghanistan and I can't figure out why. Thirty U.S. troops were killed on Saturday in a helicopter crash. This is the number one issue on which I am fiercely critical of Obama. Bin Laden is dead; al Qaeda has deserted Afghanistan for Pakistan and other countries. Why are we still in Afghanistan? How many more brave, U.S. soldiers and innocent Afghan civilians need to die while we trade shots with the Taliban?
Crisis #4: People are rioting in certain neighborhoods of London and other cities in England. Local businesses are being vandalized; police officers are being attacked. Every report I've heard about this has been very vague. The riots may have been triggered by the killing of Mark Duggan by police. Duggan was allegedly a drug dealer. It's unclear to what extent the riots are a result of outrage over this event, or a response to the generally tense relations between the police and the people of Tottenham (the London neighborhood where the riots originated). The mainstream coverage seems to be deliberately avoiding delving into the racial tensions and police misconduct that may be the underlying causes of the violence. Rather than try to explain what is happening, most accounts I've seen attribute it all to "senseless thuggery."
But at least the Red Sox took 2 out of 3 against the Yankees over the weekend. Also, my summer classes are ending this week, and I'm driving up to Maine with Yuriko to celebrate my friend Kim's wedding. So here's to savoring the little joys of life as the world falls apart...