How can the state of the union be sound if our minds are not?

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 25, 2011; 10:09 PM

President Obama understandably could not mention everything to Congress on Tuesday night. But to really convey the state of the union, you have to say at least a thing or two about our state of mind.

My fellow Americans, we are one nutty nation.

Just months after watching the economy hit bottom because we hadn't saved enough money, our addiction to stuff has resurfaced. Our spending habit has returned.

What a wacky economic system - where high unemployment is good for the stock market, massive layoffs result in big bonuses for CEOs and we are told to hold our breaths until tax cuts for the wealthy start producing jobs.

Those who weathered the recession without losing a home or a job now tell economists that they are suffering from "frugality fatigue." Apparently, having to watch last year's old 42-inch flat-screen TV caused such melancholia that some decided to self-medicate with the purchase of a new 51-inch screen.

Nothing like a shot of "consumer confidence," which the government reported Tuesday is on the rise.

So is the use of bath salt hootch for that matter. Say you lost your job and can't afford a big-screen TV but are still suffering from frugality fatigue. Do what police in Fulton, Miss., said Neil Brown did recently. He got high on bath salts, which have chemicals that act as a stimulant when snorted, smoked or consumed in a drink.

Such are the signs of just how desperate we are to feel better. But like so many of the solutions we come up with, the cure often turns out to be worse than the illness. Checked out the interest rates on those credit cards lately? Worse than the overdraft fees they replaced.

Back to Neil Brown, though. According to an article in The Washington Post on Sunday, the bath salts caused him to hallucinate, become paranoid, and eventually take a skinning knife and slit his face and stomach.

Still, bath salts are the new craze, especially among kids and young adults. Poison control centers in 25 states have received calls about people who ingested the salts in their misguided pursuit of happiness.

There's also K2, a parsley-like spice that's sprayed with a chemical to make synthetic marijuana. In the District last year, police raided a dorm at Georgetown University and found a K2 lab consisting of dry ice, ammonia, salt, lighter fluid, carbon dioxide canisters and several jars containing a "clear liquid substance."

That ought to be enough to bring out the old skinning knife again.

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