How Fast Priorities Can Change

Notice how all of a sudden nobody cares about Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan anymore? It didn’t take much. A 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a catastrophic tsunami and the possible meltdown of a nuclear power plant — that’s all it took. Thousands of people dead, thousands more missing, and millions of people short of water and food. The virtual destruction of Japan was all it took. Who is Charlie Sheen? What is he up to? No one cares. Is Lindsay Lohan going to jail? No one cares. Not anymore.

The top story in the world now is the devastation of an entire country with the news media warning at the top of its voice of worldwide repercussions. That kind of changes everything, doesn’t it? All of a sudden people stopped following the celebrity misadventures and started scoping their local stores for iodine pills. It doesn’t matter that the chances are just about zero that nuclear fallout from Japan will rain down on the West Coast, there’s a run on potassium iodine in California.

If you don’t think that the entire West Coast is freaking out, turn on the TV news. Listen to the panic reports on Eye Witless News. It isn’t “Storm Watch” anymore, it’s “Apocalypse Now.” The news readers keep hammering at gloom and doom. Look out, folks; the Japanese winds are blowing eastward towards California. Don’t forget, folks, we have nuclear power stations in California, too. Better run out and get those iodine tablets while they’re still available. Are you prepared for the next “big one?”

Is this media hysterics? Yes. That’s what they do for a living: they scare the hell out of you — it’s their job. Japan has undergone one of its all time worst disasters, no doubt about it. But over here in the Western Hemisphere, nothing much has really happened, thank God. No reason for us to panic yet. No reason to buy up crazy quantities of potassium iodine. No reason to head for higher ground. At least not today. Take a deep breath, Southern California. Chill.

But that doesn’t mean we should go back to the adventures of Charlie and Lindsay. Let’s not forget the uprisings that are still going on in the Middle East and North Africa. Gaddafi continues to kill his own people in Libya, Syria is on fire, protesters gunned down in Bahrain, demonstrations in Saudi Arabia, nobody knows what the hell Egypt will wind up becoming, and Iran continues to be an ongoing threat to the security and future of Israel as it develops its weapons of mass destruction with the clear goal of annihilating the Jewish state.

And there are plenty of real horrific events going on in our own backyard to keep our focus on, too. A couple of headlines from today’s (March 16) news are as follows:

“Food Prices Jump the Most Since 1974.” WASHINGTON (AP) — Wholesale prices jumped last month by the most in nearly two years due to higher energy costs and the steepest rise in food prices in 36 years. The Labor Department said Wednesday that the Producer Price Index rose a seasonally adjusted 1.6 percent in February — double the 0.8 percent rise in the previous month. Outside of food and energy costs, the core index ticked up 0.2 percent, less than January’s 0.5 percent rise. Food prices soared 3.9 percent last month, the biggest gain since November 1974. Most of that increase was due to a sharp rise in vegetable costs, which increased nearly 50 percent. That was the most in almost a year. Meat and dairy products also rose. Energy prices rose 3.3 percent last month, led by a 3.7 percent increase in gasoline costs.

“Housing Starts See Biggest Drop since 1984.” WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Housing starts posted their biggest decline in 27 years in February while building permits dropped to their lowest level on record, suggesting the beleaguered real estate sector has yet to rebound from its deepest slump in modern history. Groundbreaking on new construction dropped 22.5 percent last month to an annual rate of 479,000 units, according to Commerce Department data released on Wednesday. This was just above a record low set in April 2009 and way below the estimates of economists, who had been looking for a smaller drop to 570,000.

And, oh yeah, “Stocks Continue to Slide.” Have a nice day.

You know, come to think of it, maybe life was a little easier to take when all we had to think about was what nutty thing Charlie will do next.

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