Most of us oldtimers think we've seen it all. Politicians lying, sports figures misbehaving, public officials supporting the unsupportable. Nothing should surprise us.
But there are always new surprises. Things happen that make us say, "You've got to be kidding!" Here's a sampling.
- A guest writer for the Naples Daily News urged the wealthy to buy electric cars. He wrote, "All we need is people of concern and wherewithal (whom I've dubbed 'platinum citizens') to step up and purchase electrics now, even though they are a bit costly ..." That, he posits, will start a sequence of energy-changing events leading to ... I'm not sure what. Fortunately, since I'm not a 'platinum citizen,' this doesn't apply to me. I can still drive my Lexus.
- At a recent Philharmonic concert, eight horns stood to take a bow after butchering Mahler's 1st Symphony. It was embarrassing. It's hard enough to get two or three French horns to play together -- and the Phil has some very good horn players -- but to cobble together eight horns from southwest Florida and expect them to perform naked passages in a Mahler symphony is madness. And then to take an unsolicited bow? You've got to be kidding!
- We expect local newspapers to shill for local businesses. But the Daily News is straining credulity. Recent headlines have read, "New Businesses are Blooming Again in SW Florida," "Shops Upbeat About Rebound" and "Excitement in the Air," heralding recovery of the housing market. Contrast this with national headlines: "Job Engine Sputters," "No Upturn for Housing," "Markets Set for Crash." Meanwhile state economists are projecting little or no growth, and the Collier County School System, dependent on property tax revenues, is slashing staff, including teachers. I guess pumping sunshine, like Nero fiddling, does no real harm. But it doesn't change facts.
- On the homefront, the Pelican Bay Services Division board, which manages the community MSTBU, voted in March to rebuild and widen a stretch of sidewalk to six feet. Then in April it reconsidered and voted to widen the sidewalk to eight feet. Then in May it reversed itself and voted to go back to six feet. It seems inevitable that in June it will go back to eight feet! And then in July?
- Finally, the international scene. We should never lose our capacity to be surprised about Europe. France and Greece just said no to austerity. Austerity, to the profligate Europeans, means living within one's means, a notion barely alive in this country and one that never caught on in post-war Europe. France will now add its unsustainable debt to that of Italy, Spain and Ireland, as socialism moves into high gear. And the latest voting suggests Germany may not be far behind. Don't be surprised to see rating downgrades, bonds nobody wants and talk about even bigger U.S. loans. Europe is, after all, "too big to fail." Unfortunately, nobody's kidding about that.