When you make an attempt to comment on events in the world every week, there are occasional instances when you take a look around and can’t really find a single thing of interest on which to opine. Such is not the case this go-round. Epic hurricanes have pummeled hearths and homes in wide swaths of the southeast United States. The names Harvey and Irma will trouble school children in Texas and Florida for generations to come. You know it’s a bad day when you turn on the weather channel and Jim Cantore is doing a live report from your driveway.
But while millions are having their lives turned upside down by those storms, financially speaking, the hurricanes might not hold a candle to the economic disaster of the credit-reporting company Equifax being hacked. Indications are that something on the order of 143 million Americans may have had their personal information compromised, including Social Security numbers, bank accounts, and the number of times they get up to go to the bathroom each night. (Actually, I’m not 100% certain about that last statistic – even Equifax might not have that information readily available. But if you men start getting email offers for prostate exams, it may signal you’ve been hacked.)
With the storms and possible financial fracas taking center stage, the White House must have been having front-page withdrawals. So it decided now would be the perfect time to rescind Obama’s apparently Constitutionally-suspect Executive Order regarding DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. A hue and cry has arisen from many quarters over that action, even if the Trump Administration simply kicked the can in the direction of Congress for a few months.
As if that weren’t enough, Hillary Clinton is really trying hard to get her share of the spotlight that faded just a bit after last November. Making personal appearances to sell copies of her new book regarding her views about just what happened to her presidential campaign, she’s looking to spread the blame around quite a bit. Russian hackers, former FBI Director James Comey, Bernie Sanders’ primary run, Donald Trump invading her personal space on the debate state, and the fact she’s a woman are several reasons she’s mentioned for her defeat. I think there may have been a quick reference to her private email server being “dumb” (her word, not mine), but Comey, Trump and feeling the Bern seem to bear the brunt of causes that resulted in her defeat.
Word has also come down from Mount Olympus that Lois Lerner will not be charged. She’s the former head of the Internal Revenue Service division that handled tax-exempt group applications a few years ago. She had been accused of slowing down the process to glacial speed for conservative-leaning groups such as Tea Party organizations. Decisions that should have been made in maybe weeks at most were taking months and even years. Ms. Lerner was eventually allowed to retire early (with a comfortable federal pension, if memory serves correctly). But now she’s off the hook entirely.
In other news, the debt ceiling has been raised by Congress. Must be nice to own the printing press when it comes to money. Estimates are now that we’ll soon hit $22 trillion owed. Even the “interest only” option every month on that amount is hefty.
Then there’s the price gouging directly related to the nasty weather. Some airline passengers trying to get out of Dodge (well, Florida) have said a normal $350 fare from Miami to New York City suddenly became $3500. The flyboys blamed their automatic algorithms for that, saying supply and demand kicked in. The more people who want seats, the more expensive they become. Reports are the amounts were rescinded, but I’m sure there are some folks with a healthy hit on their credit card looking for a little restitution. Gas prices went up a minimum of 50 cents a gallon; milk, bread and water became hot commodities. And camping lanterns were black-market-only items in the usually sunny Southland.
So, as you can see, it was virtually impossible to pick just one topic this week. I normally try to poke fun at the foibles of the folks who crave attention in our society, or at entities that think they’re above the law. Hurricanes don’t generally lend themselves to such levity. Equifax and Hillary Clinton would definitely be fair game though (and may pop up later).
But for now, is it too much to ask that we just have one major crisis at a time?
©MMXVII. William J. Lewis, III