A Grin at the End: Weather and money – Terminology adds to general consternation

March 2023 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

Carl Sampson

It’s been said that only a meteorologist and an economist can tell you with absolute certainty today why they were wrong yesterday.

In the case of the meteorologist, I am reminded of how bizarre things have gotten every time I look out the window. In the case of the economist, I am reminded of that every time I read a newspaper.

First, the weather. There was once a weatherman on a Philadelphia television station who tracked the accuracy of his forecasts by calculating his “batting average.” After about three weeks he stopped. Had he been playing baseball, his batting average was so low he couldn’t get on a minor league team. He couldn’t even make it as a bat boy.

Meteorologists also invent or redefine words. By now we are familiar with the “atmospheric river,” also known as a storm, and the “cyclone bomb,” also known as a blizzard. They also blame every storm on “climate change.” I suppose the public relations department at the weather service wanted to jazz things up.

To my knowledge, storms have happened since Day 1. Tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, droughts – they’ve all been part of the weather picture. The Dust Bowl in the 1930s was a six-year drought on the prairies of the U.S. and Canada that destroyed thousands of farms. These days, though, it would have to be called a “super drought,” like the 20-year super drought in California that no one knew about until a few years ago. The Dust Bowl also would have been blamed on climate change, if it had been around back then.

By the way, did you ever notice that only bad things are blamed on climate change? When we get a week of gorgeous weather, climate change is never mentioned.

I know climate change is a thing. It always has been; only the speed of climate change is different. I just think the weather forecasters are getting too loose with their newly invented words.

Then there are economists, who think in terms of widgets and interest rates. They say inflation is getting out of hand because the prices of things are increasing. They sit in their fancy offices in Washington, D.C., and New York trying to avoid the economic elephant in the room. Congress has for years been spraying down the U.S. economy with trillions of dollars. First, it was aimed at keeping the wheels turning as governors shut down businesses out of fear of COVID-19. Fair enough. The death of an economy, especially by self-inflicted wounds, was to be avoided.

But then Congress and the administration kept on spraying money. And get a load of the last big bill’s name: the Inflation Reduction Act. When you read it, there is almost nothing aimed at reducing inflation. It raises taxes on corporations, subsidizes electric cars and all sorts of other stuff.

Since this bill was signed into law in January, my electric rates have gone up 15%, and my natural gas rates are going up a total of 25% by this spring. I suppose the gas company is spreading out the increases so I don’t have a stroke when I see my bill.

Oh, and interest rates are going up, too.

So Congress – with the help of state governments – is causing inflation to go up, even as the Federal Reserve Bank increases interest rates, adding to inflation.

All of which is crazy-making. Congress needs take a deep breath and stop spending and they will find that everything will settle down, despite what the economists say.

And the sun will come out, despite what the meteorologists say.

Carl Sampson is a freelance editor and writer. He lives in Stayton.

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