A new decade, a new century, a new millennium, now only hours away. I've been practicing bending over to kiss my butt goodbye, just in case. All things being equal, it's technically not the beginning of the new millennium. But when that one changes to a two, the intelligentsia will have lost their argument. The doomsday people will quickly gather themselves up and proclaim next New Year's the end of it all. I feel sorry for these poor souls, more worried about dying than living. Anyway, I think the whole thing is pretty neat, even though it is just another day in the cycle of life. This month's Flub goes to US, all six billion of us. May the next millennium give us further insight into our ongoing insanity.
1. The population explosion. We are literally screwing ourselves to death. Paul Ehrlich, in his pioneering book ''The Population Bomb,'' wrote the following in 1968, ''In summary, the world's population will continue to grow as long as the birth rate exceeds the death rate; it's as simple as that. Basically, then, there are only two kinds of solutions to the population problem. One is a ''birth rate solution,'' in which we find ways to lower the birth rate. The other is a ''death rate solution,'' in which ways to raise the death rate -- war, famine, pestilence, find us.'' At the last millennium, there were approximately 300 million people on earth. This millennium, there are over 6 billion of us. With a thousand years of practice, we're getting pretty good at this. We don't really want to deal with the problem. Too complex, too controversial, too religious. We would like for the whole thing to just go away. But of course, it won't. No one wants to quit screwing and condoms have not been a big hit. I suppose we're going to have to hope for more Lorena Bobbitts. Just the thought of her makes me break out in a cold sweat and go limp, which I suppose is a good start.
2. The destruction of the earth. Rachel Carson wrote ''Silent Spring'' in 1962. She dedicated the work to Albert Schweitzer, who said,''Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.'' These words would seem to remain true as we enter the new millennium. As far as Carson's work, only the names of the chemicals have changed. We continue to believe that the earth exists solely for our exploitation in pursuit of the almighty dollar. America's industrial might was built on the progressive destruction of the earth. Now, as Third World countries approach their own industrial ages, we are appalled that they would cut down the rain forests, work women and children fourteen hours per day, pay indecent and humiliating wages, all while the owners make themselves filthy rich. With more and more people pressuring limited resources, it doesn't take a genius to figure out the end result. Native Americans view the Earth as feminine, calling her Mother Earth. She is to be treated as just that, your mother. Would you pour toxic wastes down your mothers throat? I would be afraid to ask that question to most CEO's. The answer would not be pretty.
3. Nuclear anything is just plain nuts. It was sold to us by a small group of capitalists who became gazillionaires. We became their patsies. First, let's make a bomb that will obliterate entire cities. Let's gather up our most capable scientists, lock them away in a secret place, pay them a bunch of money and see what they can come up with. Sure enough, goodbye Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Hello, nuclear age. Enter the nuclear power plant builders. Huge building contracts. Dangers? Oh, don't worry about it. One in a million chance something will go wrong. Radioactive waste? There are plenty of Indian reservations where we can bury the stuff. You say your hair is falling out? It's just old age. Once again, we've been had.
4.The decline of unions has been a serious blow to the working person in this country. Granted, unions deserved it. As they became more powerful and rich, the union leaders betrayed the workers. This is inevitable when you view power as anything but gentle. The decline has hurt the average working person in a serious way. Today, most employment is for minimum wage, with few benefits involved. Businesses utilize various ways to cut labor costs. CEO's are hailed as business gurus when they cut their labor forces by thousands of workers. The company stock shoots up. The worker is expendable. More so as they become older. They become a burden on the company's health insurance and retirement plans. There is a glimmer of hope here. Unions are on the rebound. People once again coming together to protect themselves from unscrupulous employers. This is as inevitable as tomorrow will be Friday, or spring will follow winter. It can be no other way.
5.The level of racism and hatred remains incredibly high. People love to hate one another. It can be color, ethnicity, disability, language, social status, religion, age, sex, sexual preference or the fact that yours is bigger than mine. We'll take any excuse we can get to badmouth, berate, and/or otherwise cast aspersions on one another. ''Why?'' is a good question that has been asked down through the ages. No one is ever for sure. It is probably one part who-knows-what and nine parts lack of confidence, self-esteem and pride in ourselves. It always makes you feel better if someone else is worse. I guess realistically hatred will never go away. Anyway, if we all just got along, flub number one would only get worse. And who would we put in all those prisons?
Well, that finishes out 1999. I'm sure you won't let me down in the coming year. When it comes right down to it, flubbing is one of the things we're pretty good at. I don't see much relief coming in the new millennium. But still, you have to hope. Or take Prozac.