Wednesday, December 30, 2009

OPINION: A Look On The Bright Side

Magdalena Potluck
by Don Wiltshire

I’m often accused of being just too up-beat, too positive and just too darn happy. I never saw the point in hanging around a situation that was negative, stressful or, heaven forbid, “awkward.” So, I set about to write a new year’s column that would bring a ray of hope and encouragement to those of us living in the high desert plains. My train-wreck of thought started out something like this:
The Ultra-Rich CEO’s of the now Multi-National Corporations have seen fit, in their infinite wisdom, to relocate all of our manufacturing jobs to countries other than ours. It just makes common sense: cheaper labor + fewer emission standards = cheaper product production costs = higher profit margins.
This, of course, translates into lower prices for us, back here in the USA: “Save Money, Live Better.” There is one small flaw in this way of thinking: without jobs, how can we afford all of this stuff?
The big, really creative corporations can wave their magic wands and actually “create” vast sums of money. “Quantitative easing”, “derivatives” and “speculative trading” are some of the magic words used with the wands (think Enron).
You and I, having no wands or magic words, are stuck making our dollars the old fashioned way: one-at-a-time.
I’m so old now that I can remember when the USA used to produce lots of good stuff: textiles, clothing, shoes, electronic gear, even light bulbs. Just about the only things that we seem to be exporting now are military armaments and soy beans.
Looking for “good news” to ring in the new year, I stumbled upon which ranks countries by many categories. That site gets most of its information from (believe it or not) the CIA World Factbook (more of your tax dollars at work). There is a wealth of information here. Shop around; I’m sure you can find information that will curl your toenails and keep you up long into the night. Some of their ranking methods are strange and unexplained but let’s, for now, take them at face value:
For example, even though we spend more per capita on healthcare than any other country in the world, in a 1997 study “Health Performance” we’re ranked # 72, right down there with Argentina and Bhutan. Top honors go to Ornan (where the hell is Ornan?), Malta, Italy and France. Cuba clocks in at No. 36. One can only hope that the Senate/House “compromise” Health Bill will boost our ratings a smidgen.
Our prison population tops the charts at 2,186,230. That’s 738 people behind bars for every 100,000 of us. China comes in at No. 87 with only 1,548,498 people locked up. That represents only 118 for every 100,000 Chinese citizens. The least incarcerated rate goes to Nepal ranked at # 155 with only 26 “baddies” per 100,000 Nepalize.
It’s no surprise that the US ranks No. 1 in a 1993 study of “Gun Ownership” with 39 percent of our households owning a firearm. The Netherlands was the lowest in this study with only 1.9 percent of their population packing heat.
May I have the envelope please with the 2007 Global Peace Index? That category ranks countries who are “most at peace or driving for peace.” And we clock in at: No. 96, right between Iran and Yemen! Top honors went to Norway, New Zealand and Denmark.
As far as “Privacy” goes, if you scroll down 38 countries on the list, you’ll find us tied with Thailand for the No. 13 slot.
It’s not always good to be at the top of a list. In the 2009 “Unemployment” category, Nauru, Liberia and Zimbabwe take top honors with 80 – 90 percent of their population unemployed. The US ranks No. 71 at 7.2 percent (seems low, doesn’t it?) right there between Pakistan and Armenia. Monaco and Andorra tied for the 122nd slot at 0 percent unemployment.
So where is all of this “good news” that I promised? Well, here in Socorro and Catron Counties, we don’t have religious wars or race riots, we’re not worried about rising sea levels and we pretty much do what we want.
We don’t think much about terrorism except when UNM stages a training exercise in our back alleys. We can fairly well take care of ourselves, grow our own food, create our own jobs and ignore the rest of this crazy world. Leave us alone, don’t take our water, don’t raise our taxes and we’ll get along just fine.

If you have any Comments? Problems? Solutions? Up coming Events? Good News? Contact me at or (575) 854-3370.

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