Short takes on issues
Too little equality • "There's nothing surer. The rich get rich and the poor get poorer." The Gus Kahn and Raymond Egan lyrics to the song "Ain't We Got Fun" pretty well sum up a new report from the Pew Research Center analyzing new Census Bureau data released last month. That report says the richest Americans got richer during the first two years of the economic recovery from the Great Recession, while average net worth of the other 93 percent of U.S. households dropped. The well-heeled 7 percent of households owned 63 percent of America's total household wealth in 2011, up from 56 percent in 2009. The recession, in which home values and stock prices plunged, took a huge toll, but the disparity has been growing for decades, the report explains. Wages have stagnated, and good jobs have gone overseas. The long-term health of a country is ensured by a healthy middle class, but public policy, especially under Republican leadership, favors the wealthy. For everyone's sake, that has got to change.
Too much information • Social media, in particular the smartphone video and photos taken by Boston Marathon spectators on April 15, and the ability to track the suspects using the iPhone left in his car by the escaped carjacking victim, probably helped authorities stop the two bombing suspects. But it also allowed hackers and legitimate media reporters to quickly publish incorrect information that caused widespread confusion and could have endangered innocent people. In just one scary incident, hackers sent a false Associated Press tweet reporting explosions at the White House the day after the bombings. The phony report caused computerized investment traders to dump stocks a frightening $134 billion worth. Critics of high-speed computerized trading said the incident, which fortunately resolved itself quickly, wouldn't have happened if humans were doing the trading instead of computers. It also points to the vulnerability of our financial systems, which could be brought down by terrorist hackers without using a single bomb or firearm.
Too many homeless pets • Impulse buying may not be a problem when a shopper is browsing through a clothing boutique or toy store, but it could end badly if a dog or cat is purchased without proper research and preparation. That said, the idea of a pet adoption center at the Gateway mall is a good one, since it would allow the Salt Lake County animal shelter to showcase adoptable pets and let interested potential owners take a look while they stroll among the retail outlets. Gateway owners and the county are negotiating a deal that would let the county establish the outlet free for the first year. A win all around.