Today begins the week of my birthday. I will be 53 this coming Sunday. I neither love nor loathe birthdays. They just are. So there will be no existential angst here brought on by a day on the calendar. Besides, being alive and reasonably well on that day surely beats assuming room temperature.
A few observations on the world around me:
Everywhere I look these days there appears to be a riot taking place. In Britian over the weekend a group of anarchists protesting proposed government spending cuts,( how’s that for irony??), ransacked a Ritz hotel and several other shops in Trafalgar Square. A few months ago, similar mayhem accompanied protests in Portugal, Greece, and Ireland. Then of course there was the two week long occupation of the Wisconsin capitol building by an assortment of college kids, their hippie parents and grandparents, and the usual union thugs and teachers cashing in their generous sick pay benefits. There the call to arms was a proposed budget measure that would have required said union thugs/teachers to actually pay some of the cost of said generous benefits, while limiting there ability to collectively bargain with their own benefactors for even more generous benefits. What I am witnessing is the very early stages of withdrawal. Governments around the world great and small are awakening to the harsh reality of empty treasuries. The great social safety nets erected over the last 75 years have all become giant hammocks where ever larger numbers of their citizens have become quite comfortable. As long as there were enough gainfully employed tax-paying citizens propping up this ponzi-scheme it worked rather nicely, especially if you were in the hammock. But now there aren’t enough people pulling the cart and too many people riding in the cart,( if I can mix my metaphors a bit!). As governments around the world and here in the USA begin the long process of correcting this imbalance through austerity measures, those effected will emit a collective primal scream, in much the same way as a heroine-addict would if his fix was denied. In other words for the foreseeable future, we better get used to seeing riots.
Speaking of riots, VCU has made an amazing run in the NCAA basketball tournament, making it all the way to the final four. Having graduated from their cross-town rivals, the University of Richmond, I have watched them with no small amount of jealously even though my school made it to the sweet sixteen themselves. But now that UR is out I have become a temporary Ram Fan and am very proud of what they have done and what it means for our city. So what does this have to do with riots, you may ask. Well..last night as I watched the reaction to their latest win on Facebook, I noticed more than once over-excited fans calling for riots downtown! Now I’m sure some of it was said in jest, but others seemed to sincerely believe that the random destruction of personal property was called for at the moment of VCU’s greatest athletic triumph. The local paper this morning reported only one or two minor injuries and that a group of fans attempted to overturn a van but that, “cooler heads prevailed”. Seriously? I am completely unable to comprehend the mindset of someone who thinks…”Hey my team just made it against all odds to the final four!! I think I’ll go vandalize a total strangers car!!” Even though I know that the vast majority of those celebrating last night were peaceful fun loving revelers and it was just a few knuckleheads doing the damage, I can only imagine how much worse it might be if VCU actually wins the title. If I owned a business downtown I would invest in sheets of plywood and hire some muscle...now!