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Dave Barry's Year in Review: Why 2010 Made Us Sick

The highs and lows of 2010

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By Dave Barry
Sunday, January 2, 2011

Let's put things into perspective: 2010 was not the worst year ever. There have been MUCH worse years. For example, toward the end of the Cretaceous Period, Earth was struck by an asteroid that wiped out about 75 percent of all of the species on the planet. Can we honestly say that we had a worse year than those species did? Yes, we can, because they were not exposed to "Jersey Shore."

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So on second thought we see that this was, in fact, the worst year ever. The perfect symbol for the awfulness of 2010 was the BP oil spill, which oozed up from the depths and spread, totally out of control, like some kind of hideous uncontrollable metaphor. (Or "Jersey Shore.") The scariest thing about the spill was, nobody in charge seemed to know what to do about it. Time and again, top political leaders personally flew down to the Gulf of Mexico to look at the situation firsthand and hold press availabilities. And yet somehow, despite these efforts, the oil continued to leak. This forced us to face the disturbing truth that even top policy thinkers with postgraduate degrees from Harvard University -- Harvard University! -- could not stop it.

The leak was eventually plugged by non-policy people using machinery of some kind. But by then our faith in our leaders had been shaken, especially because they also seemed to have no idea of what to do about this pesky recession. Congress tried every remedy it knows, ranging all the way from borrowing money from China and spending it on government programs, to borrowing MORE money from China and spending it on government programs. But in the end, all of this stimulus created few actual jobs, and most of those were in the field of tar-ball collecting.

Things were even worse abroad. North Korea continued to show why it is known as "the international equivalent of Charlie Sheen." The entire nation of Greece went into foreclosure and had to move out; it is now living with relatives in Bulgaria. Iran continued to develop nuclear weapons, all the while insisting that they would be used only for peaceful scientific research, such as -- to quote President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- "seeing what happens when you drop one on Israel." Closer to home, the already strained relationship between the United States and Mexico reached a new low after the theft, by a Juarez-based drug cartel, of the Grand Canyon.

This is not to say that 2010 was all bad. There were bright spots. Three, to be exact:

1. The Yankees did not even get into the World Series.

2. There were several days during which Lindsay Lohan was neither going into, nor getting out of, rehab.

3. Apple released the hugely anticipated iPad, giving iPhone people, at long last, something to fondle with their other hand.

Other than that, 2010 was a disaster. To make absolutely sure that we do not repeat it, let's remind ourselves just how bad it was. Let's put this year into a full-body scanner and check out its junk, starting with ...

JANUARY

... which begins grimly, with the pesky unemployment rate remaining high. Every poll shows that the major concerns of the American people are federal spending, the exploding deficit, and -- above all -- jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs: This is what the public is worried about. In a word, the big issue is: jobs. So the Obama administration, displaying the keen awareness that has become its trademark, decides to focus like a laser on: health-care reform. The centerpiece of this effort is a historic bill that will either a) guarantee everybody excellent free health care, or b) permit federal bureaucrats to club old people to death. Nobody knows which, because nobody has read the bill, which in printed form has the same mass as a UPS truck.

The first indication that the health-care bill is not wildly popular comes when Republican Scott Brown, who opposes the bill, is elected to the U.S. Senate by Massachusetts voters, who in normal times would elect a crustacean before they would vote Republican. The vote shocks the Obama administration, which -- recognizing that it is perceived as having its priorities wrong -- decides that the president will make a series of high-profile speeches on the urgent need for: health-care reform.


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