Herbert, Bob. “Bewitched my Numbers.” New York Times 5 February 2011, Web.
The present economic climate is a breeding ground for discontent and outrage. No one exemplifies this better that columnist Bob Herbert of the New York Times. His article “Bewitched by Numbers” tells of the machinations and deceptions of the so-called “policy-makers” of the nation in their efforts to cover up the extent to which the economic crisis has devastated this nation. He holds that while the common American is struggling in the grips of financial insecurity, the “higher ups” are as usual wallowing in their own excessive wealth. This is not helped by the fact that the government is seemingly incapable, or unwilling, to do anything regarding this injustice. Perhaps the most egregious part of what is being done of the part of government officials is their ceaseless fallback to “numbers” in order to dupe the general public. According to Herbert, the fact that unemployment has dropped by half a percent in the last year has been hailed by bureaucrats are irrefutable evidence that the country has finally made a turn for the better. Nothing could be farther from the truth, however. Numbers, as Herbert contends, are as deceptive as they are seem to be ironclad assurances. What is truth took place this last month was a one fourth increase in jobs from the expected figure, which was a poor amount to begin with. While the official refuse to actually acknowledge the hardships of the American family, they hide behind their statistics in order to keep up the appearance that everything is going well for the nation as a whole. Their only concern is to line their pockets while remain blissfully ignorant of the true state of affairs. Whatever “jobs” are being produced in this economy are menial and low-paying; nothing that is helping this nation get back on its feet. Herbert goes on to assert that these statistics should only be used as approximate indicators of progress, not as concrete evidence. What we should be concerned with, he says, is how the common person is faring in these tough times, not what the numbers show us.
Bob Herbert makes a strong point in this article. One cannot help but be moved by the description he affords of the painful situation of families, struggling to feed themselves, keeping a roof above their heads, and remaining socially respectable, despite the seeming impossibility of securing such necessities in these times. However, it would be rash to assume, as Herbert does, that the root of all the nations woes can be traced to the scheming of “policy-makers.” No doubt there are some bureaucrats in power who, for the good of the nation, would be best deposed of. But the vast majority of those in power are there for a reason. We are after all a democracy, and the ultimate decision is with the people. It is up to the common citizen to be well informed of the current issues, and to choose their representatives wisely. As for being “bewitched by numbers,” no one is more aware of the Americans' true state than an American. It goes without saying that anyone who is fooled by such prevarications, does so willingly.
By this point most residents around in the surrounding regions of the gulf will no doubt be familiar with the BP advertisements announcing their apologies for the all the crisis in the gulf, and their commitment to do everything in their power to avert further disaster and to resolve the present one. The disaster is, of course, none other than the oil spill which took place last year, and which has had tremendous repercussions for surrounding wild life habitats and businesses alike. So what has BP actually done to alleviate the current troubles caused by their negligence? Anyone can tell you that BP has certainly promised via televised advertisements to set aside twenty billions dollars, not an inconsiderable sum, to help fund clean up activities, research, and pay reparations to hard-hit businesses. This seems like a good idea, in the vague sense which BP's commercials deliver, but how many of these goals have actually come to fruition? The troubling truth is that BP's cooperation and willingness to help may in fact be more apparent in their emotionally driven advertisements than in reality. In recent developments concerning the devastated habitats along the Louisiana coast, BP has shown resistance to carrying out their commitments in a timely and cooperative manner. The fact is that marshes along the coast have for a long time been deteriorating under the effects of vast quantities of incoming oil despite BP's claims to doing all they possible can to contain the contamination. According to a recent article in the New York Times, many officials are doubtful whether BP has been “mounting a sufficiently aggressive cleanup operation” (Robertson). While BP has displayed “indifference and inaction” the marshes of Louisiana continue to suffer and show signs of irreparable damage (Robertson). Although many suggestions have been made for the course of action BP ought to take, BP has opted for none. Only time will tell whether BP means to make good on their word, or whether their promises are merely running on empty.
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