Monday, May 27, 2013

Good...or Not?

I decided in January to try to "up" my role in the lives of our grandchildren. None of them live here, so I write one letter (there are eleven of them) every week and send it by mail. After all, who actually gets letters these days?
It seems to be working. I've even started to get a few replies, though I don't ask for them. Henry, for instance, age five, told me about a report he made in school about ...wombats. The wombat, you may recall, has nothing to do with flying bats, but is a marsupial from Australia. They resemble what you might get by crossing a wildcat with a badger.
Henry's contribution was to note that the wombat poops in squares (although he didn't say how) as a way of marking his territory. So other Australian animals, upon seeing the wombat leftovers, would react the way we might if we saw a large sign reading, "Warning! Wombat land ahead! Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!" I'm not planning any trips Down Under, but if you go, be aware. You've been warned. Thanks, Henry.

Our local paper included an AP story on the trends in CEO pay. It said that the boss of a typical large public company now pulls in just short of $10 million a year. I know, you can argue that some bosses are worth much more than that, and that could be true, for all I know. It should certainly be enough to keep the boss off Skid Row.
Here are the figures that should mean something to us: 6.5%, 6% and 24%. Those are the increases the bosses took in in 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively. In fairness, there were actually some down numbers in the two years preceding.
Compare those numbers to these: 1.6%, 1.2%, 1.1%. Those are the increases earned in the same years, on the average, by everyone else. Looks like either the bosses got smarter, the underlings didn't, or the top guys had plenty of pals on the Board of Directors goosing the CEO's check. It doesn't hurt that they also have the entire lobbying industry AND one of the two remaining large political parties on the payroll screaming their side of the story. Is it good? Depends on your spot in the pecking order, I guess.  

There's also the story last week stating that births to teenage moms the past five years are down considerably, and in almost all states. At first glance, this would seem to be good news to almost everyone, right?
Well, there is one little complication here. It's the church. They don't talk about these things in any detail, and in fact almost never mention them at all except to point out more items in a long list of things that seemingly can't ever improve. I know it sounds strange, but I listen to these things pretty carefully, and can say with some assurance that church leaders are actually more comfortable pointing out the shortcomings of the world, and the trend (Worse. Always worse) than in giving out credit for anything good which didn't come from the church itself. If this sounds like a fertile breeding ground for sourpuss cynics who vote GOP because they feel it's (cliche alert) "the lesser of two evils", I'd say that's sometimes pretty close. This means even good news to everyone else can't be accepted by the Faithful without heavy reservations.
Want to understand Mormons and their ways? Keep this little ditty in mind: Nothing bad or in any way negative regarding anything that comes from the Church. Nothing good with any lasting influence from anyone else. We actually assume the world is going straight to hell, but we keep smiling. Do I find this a little tough to internalize? Sometimes.  


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