ne, I want to raise some provocative questions. And answer them myself, of course. And then two, I want to prove I can still carve a pumpkin.
The extraordinarily frightening thing about Halloween this year is the rank stupidity of the people you're liable to bump into in the night.
A quick State-of-the-Union address.
The CBO (Congressional Budget Office: last time I'm spelling it out; you're grown up now) just closed the books on FY2014. Revenues up, spending up only fractionally and the deficit down to 448 billion).
3rd Qtr. GDP was 4.4%—and should finish the year around 2.2% according to The Economist.
Unemployment down to 5.9%, more people are working now than before the recession. Inflation remains under control. Personal income and personal consumption both increased, albeit fractionally, each month this year.
Corporate profits, of course, continue at record pace. The Dow (that's the stock market) closed today at 17,390.52, a record high. Headhunters are calling your father again.
But a majority of Americans don't believe any of this stuff. 56% tell Gallup every week that they think the economy is getting worse.
- – Only 19% can correctly identify whether the federal deficit has grown or shrunk since 2010.
- – 66% believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old. (Lewis Black says their kids turn on The Flintstones and they think they're watching a documentary.)
- – 53% of Americans don’t believe man is heating up the climate.
- – 30% of voters say they'd be less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who said he or she believed in evolution.
- – 55% of all adults (including one in five that aren't even religious) believe they have a guardian angel.
- – 45% believe in ghosts.
This lack of useful knowledge voters possess about themselves and their world is a significant enabler of the chaotic irresponsibility we see in our elected officials. Obviously it's okay to believe anything you want.
That's why 22 out of 30 Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, or 73%, deny the reality of climate change
And why 17 out of 22 Republicans on the House Science, Technology and Space Committee, or 77%, don't believe climate change is occurring or humans are the cause.
It's why politicians say things like the stimulus didn't work, government spending is out of control, Obama is a Muslim, Benghazi was a conspiracy, Holder was selling guns to the Mexican cartels, you can catch Ebola at your neighborhood cocktail party and not paying the government's bills is a good way to reduce federal debt.
When you're really misinformed, you run the risk of making some terrible decisions about your future.
Moreover, we are an insular culture, by dint of both disposition and geography, and we don't understand that the conditions our politicians are constantly blaming each other for are prevalent in virtually all developed countries. In fact, we're doing better than most of them. I've said this before, but you probably weren't listening: Presidents don't ruin economies; economies ruin presidents.
Whatever. Americans plan to spend $7.4 billion celebrating Halloween this year. Two-thirds will buy Halloween costumes for the occasion, according to the National Retail Federation. The average person will spend $77.52 on decorations, costumes and candy, up from $75.03 last year.
|• They'll spend $1.1 billion on children’s costumes and another $1.4 billion on adult costumes
|They will spend $350 million on costumes for their pets.
| One-third will throw or attend a party
| One-third will take their children trick-or-treating
| 71.1% will spend $2.2 billion to hand out candy. 35.9 percent will send Halloween greeting cards.
But, really, what do they know?
Just try to get through this night safely. This year is a generational first for you guys. All three of you will all be in your own abodes, away from us, answering the door when the doorbell rings. So why not mark the occasion by trying something different. Instead of giving them candy, why not try handing out books?