The game of buck passing is easier when the recipient is not a person. The dog is often an obvious culprit, or perhaps aliens.
Sadly, a lot of things in the last few years have been attributable to the recession: unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcies, business closures, etc. These things are all logical and provable results of this situation. People with advanced degrees in economics can whip out their calculators and charts and connect all the dots to show that the recession led to all the things I mentioned above.
With so many terrible things being the recession’s fault, it is easy to blame anything on it, particularly if there is no other reasonable explanation. It’s kind of like the childhood troublemaker who gets the finger pointed at him by the other kids when they do something bad and the adults all believe it because the troublemaker is always wreaking havoc.
A few weeks back I read an article that said pregnancy among U.S. teens was down because of the recession. A Dec. 21 posting on MSNBC.com said the teen birth rate fell to 39 births in 1,000 girls, “a decline that stunned experts say is partly because of the economy.” The only “proof” that one so-called “expert” gave was to state that all families are experiencing some sort of stress. From there the article goes on to talk about various birth rate numbers and then at the end mentions other possible factors, including — imagine this! — the input of health officials and advocates as possibly having an effect. The article also mentions the possible influence of pop culture on teen pregnancy, specifically Bristol Palin and the MTV show “16 and Pregnant.”
I prefer, however, to retain some hope for the future and think no one named Palin or with the initials MTV will have any effect on anything ever.
When hearing about any comprehensive analysis I always try to see how I fit or don’t fit into it.
As a white male who grew up in middle class comfort I represent only one specific demographic when it comes to such topics as teen pregnancy, but I feel I also have some grounds on which to speak about the subject. In the not-so-distant past I was a hormonal adolescent who thought a lot about teen pregnancy — or at least the cause of and prevention of it. It was a subject I dedicated at least a little bit of time and effort to researching personally.
I can tell you definitively that economic conditions in the world at large had no place in my research’s hypothesis, experiment or conclusion. Exactly two factors were in my mind: one was the preservation of my own skin and the other is like a “bleep” on TV — everyone knows what I’m saying even though I can’t say it. Fortunately for me and my research partner we did not become a statistic. But, as I said, the motivation for caution was prevention. So as a journalist and a human who has been there, I find it highly suspect to even bring the recession into the discussion.
Lower teen birth rates are not a problem but if we’re going to attribute things to the recession I can play the game for a minute. Like throwing spaghetti at a wall to see if it’s done, let’s throw some problems at it and see if they stick.
U.S. combat deaths in the Middle East: If anything, the money being spent on that whole mess is contributing to the recession. If boneheaded politicians were spending money at home instead of overseas on bullets, this recession might be over a lot sooner.
Failing education of Nevada’s students: Many will point to shrinking school budgets as the guilty party in poor performance by pupils, but I don’t think that causes test questions to get harder or prevents the information from being studied. Some children might be forced to work some to help their families, but not enough to sink the scholastic boat. It seems to me the USS Silver State Education has been taking on water for a while, but I still believe a dedicated young person can put on a life preserver and not go down with the ship.
Increased crime: I will bend a little on this one but only so far as to say the recession might push some potential criminals over the edge, possibly out of a need to feed themselves or their families, or because there are fewer cops on the street to stop them.
My lousy guitar playing: My lack of dedication to practice and lack of inherent ability are completely independent of any economic downturn. I was really hoping there was an external factor at play, but alas no.
I will keep thinking about it. Without a doubt there are more happenings out there that can be attributed to the recession before it goes away and leaves us with no one to blame but ourselves.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find our next scapegoat.
Nathan Orme is the editor of the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com.