In a sea of negative news, the June jobs report is an optimistic sign.
There has been an odd but oddly-captivating conspiracy theory floating around the internet for the past decade.
Well, that’s to say, there are many odd conspiracy theories floating around the internet at present. Everyone from the rap legends of the Wu Tang Clan to actress Megan Fox believes one conspiracy theory or another.
Some conspiracy theories are even considered quite en vogue in certain circles. Stolen elections, circa 2016 or 2020; COVID19 origins; singer Avril Lavigne, like Sir Paul McCartney before her, killed by evil record companies and replaced with a lookalike. We should really all be trading conspiracy theory cards instead of baseball cards. The rare ones that turn out to be true might really end up being worth something someday.
Some conspiracy theories are neither true nor all in good fun, of course. Some are vile perversions of the human psyche and transgressions against society which should be censored- never linked. (Yes, censored. Just like snuff films, the, “Big Book of Mischief,” or the so-called, “Anarchists Cookbook,” and a dozen other vile-intentioned how-tos on murder, torture, bomb making and contract killing of which most people- blessedly- have never heard.)
Some conspiracy theories are obviously just for fun. They are ear-worms; tongue-in-cheek, long-running jokes the seriousness of which is impossible to determine.
The Mandela Effect is one of those funny little conspiracy theories. It posits that the world- as we knew it- did actually end in 2012, just like it was supposedly predicted to do in the much-hyped Mayan long-count calendar.
That was the year, Mandela Effect-theorist believe, the Large Hadron Collider was turned on, thereby creating tiny pockets of antimatter that coalesced into a black hole which then sucked the entire Earth into its unknowable vortex- where we earthlings have been- presumably- languishing ever since.
That’s why, Mandela Effect-theorists say, everything has been going off the rails since then. You have to hand it to them; that last part is hard to refute.
The internet has connected the disparate peoples of the world, some of whom, if Reddits and subReddits can be believed (they can’t), remember things from a different timeline than the rest of us.
Mandela Effectors, for instance, remember human rights crusader Nelson Mandela dying in prison- not being released and elected president of South Africa, hence the name, “The Mandela Effect.”
The ME is a fun internet rabbit hole, but that might not be the main reason it is sticking around.
Things have started to feel more than a bit off lately, haven’t they?
With the shocking news today of the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the world certainly seems to be- again- tilting strangely on its axis. Add Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is even now reaching boiling point, and the ghosts of bloody world history seem to be suddenly haunting us all with a vengeance.
“I am stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened by the news that my friend Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot and killed while campaigning,” said President Joe Biden in a statement today. “This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him.”
“The United States stands with Japan in this moment of grief,” President Biden concluded. “I send my deepest condolences to his family.”
High-profile assassinations, invasions, violent attacks: This is how wars get started.
More importantly, and this can’t be stressed enough, this is how wars which cost millions of lives get started. It has all happened before in living memory; it occurs to us this Friday, perhaps for the first time in a too-comfortably long time, that it could all happen again.
Indeed, the trials of the past may already be repeating. Skyrocketing fuel and energy costs, record-setting inflation, pocketbook-busting price increases, shortages. Americans, when they aren’t worried sick about what’s happening to the economy, are worried to death about what’s coming next.
Rationing? Mile-long lines at the gas station? Food shortages? Riots? Blackouts?
Another hornet’s nest-kicking, inflation-driving invasion? China into Taiwan, perhaps? North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has gone eerily silent these last few months. Is he planning to escalate North Korea’s long-simmering war against South Korea?
Or rather, how is Kim Jong Un planning to escalate his conflict with South Korea next, and is the world ready for it?
After Vladimir Putin quashes all resistance in Ukraine- which he is on the very cusp of doing- where will he turn the Russian Bear next?
“When they [U.S. lawmakers] attempt to appropriate our assets abroad, they should be aware that we also have something to claim back,” Putin ally Vyacheslav Volodin warned this week, referring to Alaska. Volodin wasn’t the first to make such an incendiary comment, only the latest. Others in Putin’s government have made similar comments in the recent past.
“Good luck with that!” Alaska Government Mike Dunleavy responded via tweet. “Not if we have something to say about it. We have hundreds of thousands of armed Alaskans and military members that will see it differently.”
Vladimir Putin was the first; who will be the next to recognize the once-in-a-generation opportunity afforded by global superpowers thrice weakened from a pandemic, economic disaster and domestic unrest?
2022 may end up being remembered as the year we spent waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It’s growing increasingly hard to be optimistic and U.S. consumers have increasingly stopped trying. Now that the paycheck-to-paycheck members of the working class have cut movies, dining out, entertainment expenses, plus any sanity-saving extras and discretionary spending (from the industries hardest hit by COVID19 who can least afford more financial pain), struggling households are nervously, and miserably, wondering what’s next.
Cuts in discretionary spending are notoriously painful. No one likes to feel as if they are working more hours for less money. Once all those extras are gone, however, there is a whole new realm of financial pain involving disconnected electricity and empty cabinets.
Pawnshops are already going gangbusters and the strain is beginning to tell.
“Joe Biden can’t catch a break,” complained CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza yesterday. “The hits just keep on coming for Joe Biden.”
The American working class feels exactly the same way. The last 2.5 years and counting feels like a pit which just keeps getting deeper all the time.
At least there is one area in which the American working-class need have no fear, for now at any rate.
The June 2022 jobs report just came out and it is a very hopeful sign on a horizon which has scarcely ever looked darker.
“Payrolls increased 372,000 in June, more than expected, as jobs market defies recession fears,” announced CNBC jubilantly this morning. “Job growth accelerated at a much faster pace than expected in June, indicating that the main pillar of the U.S. economy remains strong despite pockets of weakness.”
“The strong 372,000 gain in non-farm payrolls in June appears to make a mockery of claims the economy is heading into, let alone already in, a recession,” a Capital Economics senior U.S. economist was quoted as saying.
While the jobs report is being universally acknowledged as good, not everyone is convinced this single marker is enough to allay recession fears.
“Hiring is robust,” wrote Paul Davidson for USA Today. “Unemployment is unchanged. But does June jobs report ease recession fears?”
It might not completely ease recession fears for working-class consumers shell-shocked by swelling expenses, but a little job security never goes amiss. And there’s no conspiracy theory about that.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)