Monday, September 28, 2009

CBS News Poll Comments
CBS News recently conducted a 60 Minutes-Vanity Fair Poll. How could they have forgotten to ask me what I think? Here is my commentary.

It shouldn’t surprise me that Walmart is the institution that best symbolizes America today. It won over Google, Microsoft, the NFL and banking. I am wondering if there were some other choices, even though everyone seems to crowd into the nearest Walmart store except my son who takes Walmart’s ethics very seriously. I am wondering how many people voted for the Christian churches, or McDonald’s. The answer to this survey question says a lot about American economic thinking on the local level.

Should the US tax the richest Americans by at least fifty percent? Only fifty percent of the respondents said yes. What’s wrong with us? If I remember my American history correctly, when the income tax was put into place, the idea was to have it graduated according to ability to pay. The people with the money are running the government, so they make it sound as if taxing them without regard for their financial largesse is a burden on them. This question applies to taxing people for their purchases, too, I think. Of course there should be a large sales tax on their yachts and Porsches. It’s not that I want these things. It is that they are examples of American greed.

The luxury people hate to sacrifice in tough economic times turns out to be dining out, according to the poll. Television talking heads say that many people eat most or all their meals in various eating places. If people can’t afford to eat in restaurants, they will have to learn to cook and maybe find the grocery stores that no longer are near their homes. Construction workers would go back to work designing functional kitchens for the homes of people who suddenly need to use them. It could be good for the stomach and the economy. The losers here would be the people in urban areas who can not get to stores other than convenience stores.

Fighting obesity among users of fast food chains is interesting. The paragraph above might be one solution. Dining out seems to be a luxury. The biggest (pun intended) response was to put scales in the eateries. I suspect that the people who eat there would be the last ones to get onto the scales. I suggest that one way to lessen obesity is to avoid the fast food chains.

People said it is much worse for politicians to take bribes than to have extramarital affairs. I agree. The sins of the spirit (i.e., ethics, etc.) are worse than the sins of the flesh. However, I sympathize with the plight of Elizabeth Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Jenny Sanford and Eleanor Roosevelt.

When will Obama bring the troops out of Afghanistan? Probably in time for the next presidential campaign, but maybe in time for the mid-term elections. I believe the people are becoming cynical. It’s likely to be that way. Where is change we can believe in? This is a war we can’t believe in.

Here comes pop culture. Who is the man with whom to trade places for a week? I think I could trade places with George W. Bush for a week and enjoy life on the ranch in Texas, doing nothing except visiting with Laura, Mom and Poppy.
The top responses were Barack Obama, Tom Brady and Bruce Springsteen. Obama has the hardest job in the world and lives with constant barbs against him for his race and his actions. Tom Brady is a professional football player. Who would want to be pounded physically into a life of disability at a young age, even for a week? (He's not Brett Favre, after all.) Bruce Springsteen is a more reasonable choice, but not for me. My father and my husband were celebrities, although on a small scale. Forget it.

Top responses for the women with whom to trade places were Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, and Beyonce. What? Not Sarah Palin? Not Oprah? Certainly not Lynn Cheney. I could try Barbara Walters or Rachel Maddow.

Maybe all this explains why CBS news didn’t call me to ask these questions.


  1. I'm enraged. I just wrote a long comment and lost it.
    However, I'll send something of a replacement. First, I don't like the ethics of Walmart either. I don't shop there unless I have to - mainly because of how they treat their workers. Walmart though is an example, or perhaps a fruition, of the American Dream. All those rows of cheap goods and that huge basket that you push along! Yes, Walmart catches the materialism of the American Dream. Taxing the rich? It's been tried and has rarely worked. Our "graduated" tax code contains so many loopholes that it resembles a tattered Swiss cheese, not a coherent method of gathering revenue for the central government. Examples abound: Companies that were founded on July 1, 1916 are exempt from most federal taxes. Only U.S. company was founded on July 1, 1916: General Motors. My first suggestion for tax reform would be a 1% tax per share on stock transactions in all U.S. markets. Sweden has done this for years - its economy is still strong and vibrant. Getting the troops home from Afghanistan? Getting them home from Iraq and Afghanistan is ever receding goal,but the main problem with any U.S. withdrawal is the danger of violence. Iraq is riven with sectarian and ethnic rivalries more than 15 centuries old; they show no sign of abating. Only a strong central government can master and control this antagonism if indeed one wishes for Iraq to continue as a state. The peoples in it were never part of a unitary state until the Treaty of Sevres in 1920; previously they were all ruled by the Ottomans. The reason that they were tossed together in one state was simply administrative convenience; the British commissioner was based in Baghdad, a large city central to the region.Thus were sown the seeds of today's problems. Afghanistan is a union of tribes, much like Saudi Arabia. They dislike each other but dislike foreigners even more. The Afghanis successfully resisted the British more than a century ago (about 1860) and the Russians only two decades before the Americans came. I don't think that the prospects of success, i.e. a strong central government that has sway over the whole country, are very good. This is another Bush mess bequeathed to Obama, who still has my best wishes. I've run on a bit and may have lectured. I didn't mean to, but I lived in that part of the world for 11 years. It fascinating but complex and difficult. And those two words, "complex" and "difficult" were not, and are not, in the lexicon of George W. Bush.
    Take care. Long comment.

  2. Hey, Elliot. Are you mad at the survey results or my comments? Thanks for responding.

  3. No,no,no,no,no. I guess I'm just put out by the survey results. You and I agree about the results of the survey, I think. The survey itself seems to avoid hard issues and difficult choices, the stuff of any good decision. The issues brought out by the survey deal with complex, profound questions - events and ideas that concern us all. Sorry if I gave the impression of being angry at your comments; that was not my intention. I read all of your comments, including the "recipe" ones. Are you surprised? I have to say too, Kathy, that you still care about big issues that affect our country and ourselves - so many here in CA don't. At the risk of running on I must also tell you that I walk too, thirty minutes almost every day, usually with 2 lb weights on each foot. Each day I go a bit further.
    Take care.