Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Memorial Day Retrospective

248 Memorial Day Retrospective

This should have been said a few days ago, Memorial Day. We don’t understand how this works. Or, we didn’t until now:

On Memorial Day, the Tomb of the Unknowns opens up and if the ghost inside sees his shadow, we have six more years of war.

It was sunny. The ghost saw his shadow. Looks like we’re in Iraq for awhile, yet.

They don’t put this ceremony on television. They should. And they should name the ghost. Arlington Al or Arlington Abe or Virginia Vic.

So Vic saw his shadow and now, more war. Maybe we should try again on July 4th.

We can stretch this idea a bit. Apply it to most of the holidays.

On Labor Day, at the tomb of Samuel Gompers, we get to find out if we have six more years of diminishing union membership.

On Thanksgiving Day at the Tomb of the Unknown Turkey we get an advance look at grocery prices.

That kind of thing.

We Americans love predictions. Most of them are wrong. But we love them. (More about this at

Notice how most forecasting – from the weather to the direction of the stock market – turns out off the mark. Even those that can be fudged.

Like corporate earnings forecasts.

Forecasters of THIS ilk have learned some hard lessons. Be accurate and Wall St. punishes your stock. Err toward the conservative and Wall St. punishes your stock. Err toward the optimistic and Wall St. punishes your stock if you’re right and kills it if you’re wrong.

The so-called “independent” analysts have it even cushier. When they’re wrong, they just say their predictions were misinterpreted. They continue to collect their seven to nine figure salaries and bonuses and Wall St. punishes the stock.

Still, we eagerly await the weather report, the earnings estimate report, the tax revenue earnings estimate, the horoscope, the tarot reading and all the guessing about who will win the Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony, the Nobel Peace Prize and the Moote Pointe Hog Calling Contest… The Indy 500, the Belmont Stakes, the Employee of the Month Award at Wendy’s. The spelling bee, the best marks in the graduating class, the next touchdown.

Part of this is the inborn American optimism: Things are going to get brighter.

Part of this is the American reluctance to live in the present.

Part of this is the American “need” to get an edge over the next guy or the Chinese or the Russians.

(Notice, we’re no longer interested in getting an edge over the Japanese!)

About 35 years ago, a friend, Izzy (yes, that’s his real name,) closed up his shop on MacDougal St. and went to a country where he didn’t know a word of the language, Sweden, where he lives happily to this day.

No one predicted that.

So, some things really DO come from out of left field.

But most of the stuff we look at and try to turn into a palm reading or a phrenology session doesn’t mean much.

But the Ghost of the Unknown DID see his shadow, so it’s pretty safe to say we’re not leaving Iraq any time soon.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

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