Guardian of The Bacon

We had an emergency this morning. Not Enough Bacon. It’ll be on CNN later today.

I exercised my emergency homeowner powers and appointed one especially responsible relative as today’s Guardian of The Bacon, an august position never before conceived or enacted. This person ensured that:

  • Each person takes only two slices of The Bacon. Two and only two.
  • No violence ensues as people covet others’ Bacon.
  • Anyone exhibiting BDS (Bacon Derangement Syndrome) is quarantined and counseled.
  • All recrimination for The 2021 Bacon Shortage is immediately shamed and deflected.

Later today I will slink out and find enough Bacon to satisfy the hordes through Christmas. Porcine animals, beware.

Tribal stories

It’s hard to understand why 54% of Americans – including a lot of my personal friends in business – think that the Biden administration has done a poor job with the economy, when the actual numbers show precisely the opposite. Biden’s first-year economic numbers are some of the best in history. From Heather Cox Richardson’s Letter From an American:

Year-end accounts of the U.S. economy are very strong indeed. According to Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal—which are certainly not giddy media outlets—U.S. economic output has jumped more than 7% in the last three months of 2021. Overall growth for 2021 should be about 6%, and economists predict growth of around 4% in 2022—the highest numbers the U.S. has seen in decades. China’s growth in the same period will be 4%, and the eurozone (which is made up of the member countries of the European Union that use the euro) will grow at 2%.

The U.S. is “outperforming the world by the biggest margin in the 21st century,” wrote Matthew A. Winkler in Bloomberg, “and with good reason: America’s economy improved more in Joe Biden’s first 12 months than any president during the past 50 years….”

In February, Biden’s first month in office, the jobless rate was 6.2%; today it has dropped to 4.2%. This means the Biden administration has created 4.1 million jobs, more than were created in the 12 years of the Trump and George W. Bush administrations combined. Wages in America are growing at about 4% a year, compared with less than 1% a year in the eurozone, as worker shortages and strikes at places like Deere & Co. (which makes John Deere products) and Kellogg’s are pushing wages up and as states increase minimum wages.

The American Rescue Plan, passed by Democrats in March without a single Republican vote, cut child poverty in half by putting $66 billion into 36 million households. More than 4.6 million Americans who were not previously insured have gotten healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act, bringing the total covered to a record 13.6 million. When Biden took office, about 46% of schools were open; currently the rate is 99%. In November, Congress passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that will repair bridges and roads and get broadband to places that still don’t have it.

Support for consumers has bolstered U.S. companies, which are showing profit margins higher than they have been since 1950, at 15%. Companies have reduced their debt, which has translated to a strong stock market.

The American economy is the strongest it’s been in decades, with the U.S. leading the world in economic growth…so why on earth do 54% of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy (according to a CNN/SSRSpoll released yesterday)?

Frustrating. It has to be the media echo chamber. If you watch Fox news, you think the economy has gone to shit because they tell you it has, over and over. It’s just difficult to have a conversation with folks who ignore basic facts and lean on anecdotes and propaganda. One of my close friends has gone completely down the Qanon rabbit hole, believing all kinds of complex conspiracy stories about how the Bidens, Clintons, Obamas and others are working together to tear down the country and enslave us all via the COVID vaccine. It’s sad, because otherwise this is a fine, rational person.

I swore off religion a long time ago because I couldn’t ignore the obvious conflict between facts (things I can observe and prove) and the many religious narratives, some tame and some crazy. I’d like to do the same with politics, but politics can have an immediate effect on my life, positive or negative.

Part of the problem is labels. You’re a Baptist. You’re a Catholic. Joe is a Conservative. Mary is a Liberal. Labels cause us to stop thinking and start stereotyping, start behaving tribally. My tribe versus your tribe.

I don’t know what the answer to this might be. But it’s a problem.