As W galloped out of office and Obama sashayed in, January's headlines were enough to make anyone utter: WTF?!
While we read about Blagojevich's hairbrush and the $1,400 trashcan purchased by Merrill Lynch's CEO, the Dow saw "its worst performance ever" posting its worst January in its 113 year history.
Layoff announcements flooded the headlines, and so did news about "bailout bonuses". As eye-popping sums were delivered to Paulson's colleagues at Goldman Sachs and beyond, things started getting messy. The robber barons on Wall Street sullied their nests when Bloomberg News launched a probe, the first of many, to discern how the Federal Reserve was allocating our taxpayer resources to these Architects of Financial Armageddon.
Bank of America then launched its own probe prompting it to have an allergic reaction to Merrill Lynch at the same time we were learning about a peanut butter recall large enough to give the entire country a bad case of "food allergies." As we tried to avoid salmonella in our sandwiches and poop-smeared peanut proteins in our products, we turned a discerning eye on the hieroglyphic language that the FDA now refers to as "food" labels and realized that we couldn't pronounce what we were eating.
And from financials to food, the probing continued when Friday's Wall Street Journal reported that the FDA announced a criminal investigation into peanut butter companies. But apparently, that wasn't all.
With additional probing by a former FDA scientist, we learned that a neurological toxin called mercury had found its way into our kitchens in the form of high fructose corn syrup, a chemical additive used by the processed food industry to sweeten foods and enhance profitability and product shelf life. And yet another probe was launched...but not into Illinois-based, Kraft, one of only two Dow stocks to rise last month given their ability to manage costs and enhance profitability through the use of chemical additives like high fructose corn syrup in their American product line. But rather, a probe was launched into a company called "Vulcan Chemicals" to discern how this profit driving, heavy metal had found its way into our daily bread, our mac and cheese and our soda pop.
And as the food fiasco began to rival the financial one, the FDA followed Wall Street's lead and spent $1.5 million of our taxpayer resources on a "morale boosting" slide show presented at an FDA retreat that "likened one of the agency's top regulators to visionary leaders" such as "Ghandi, Margaret Thatcher and Steve Jobs."
And since that didn't sit right, Congress probed.
And in the midst of all of this probing into food and finances, one last January probe was launched, as highlighted in the Wall Street Journal's weekend edition.
In perhaps the probe of all probes, we learned that the Financial Times is suing Blackstone Group for multiple use of a single online subscription, alleging that one of the world's wealthiest private-equity firms shared a username and password to avoid paying for an additional online subscription that cost $179 to $299 a year. Can you believe the audacity of greed?
As we kick off 2009 with news like this, perhaps February's headlines should read:
"Welcome to our "ENRON-OMY" and the Year of the Probe". What do you think?
This article is a tribute to Arianna Huffington and Maureen Dowd, with gratitude for their wit and wisdom.
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