Stats show we’re better off now than we were back then

On Feb. 9, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café in Schoharie. This was a Tuesday, and on Tuesday, December 29, the weather was a tad nasty, and then on this Tuesday, the OFs had to content with about two inches of nuisance snow. Is this going be a year where the bad weather will happen on a Tuesday? Maybe.

Well, the Country Café was warm, and cheery — a welcome place to be early on a Tuesday morning.

The first topic was an OF’s complaint: Why did Time Warner jack up the bill by as much as 30 bucks? How do they get away with that?

One OF said that is not so much; it is a buck a day.

The other OFs said, you may be made of money but we aren’t. One OF said, if everyone thought like that and jacked up their prices only a buck a day, it would take only 10 suppliers of this, that, or the other thing to do this and, by the end of the year, we are talking big bucks, like $3,650 for the year. How do you make that up on a fixed income?

This scribe does not know how or if the subject transitioned at this time to if things are better now or when we were young. The OFs thought not, but the scribe said, yes, in most cases things are better now than then. So this scribe did a little checking, the key word here is little.

In 1970, when the United States had 203 million people, there were 16,000 murders, 350,000 robberies and 28,000 rapes.

A decade later, with a population of 225 million, there were 23,000 murders, 565,000 robberies, and 83,000 rapes.

The following decade, in 1990, there were 250 million people, again 23,000 murders, 639,000 robberies, and 84,000 rapes.

Skipping to 2014, the most recent since 2015 isn’t yet tallied, there were 319 million people, 14,000 murders, 325,000 robberies, and 84,000 rapes.

So you can see how crime in all major categories, with 116 million more people now than then, is considerably less crime than when there were fewer people. Tires last longer, cars run better and last much longer though they are nowhere near as stylish, and homes are constructed better. Medicine is better by leaps and bounds.

Conservation is beginning to take hold. Back in the day, sewage was untreated and dumped in the rivers, lakes, and streams — and winding up in the ocean. Factories dump what we now know is called hazardous waste anywhere because there were no controls stating they couldn’t.

Even based on average income, cars and houses are relatively proportionate. Food is a tad higher, but two items are way out of whack — tuition and health care cost much more than in the 1950s and proportionately so. 

This is one way to look at then and now; however, stats can be bent anyway to prove anything but is some cases facts are facts.

News skews 

The reason most of the OFs think times are worse now than in the past is the immediate assimilation of news from all over the world, and most of the reporting is of bad news. Naturally the OFs are going to think everything is bad because that is all they hear today, almost hourly when it happens.

There is TV, Skype, cell phones, and computers. No wonder the OFs think the world is coming to and end and, if you believe the media, it is.

This scribe says: Sit back and relax — this ole sphere has been around a long time and it still will be for a long time to come. There is only one person who knows when it will end and he isn’t telling or leaving any clues.

Talk opens with wallet

This conversation opened up when one OF took out his wallet to leave a tip, and one OF ran to get a fly swatter to swat the moths as they flew out of that wrinkled, old piece of leather. That topic was where some people kept their money.

One OF said that this guy ran a junkyard and did not trust banks so he did everything in cash, and used his money as insulation in the walls of his home. When he retired, he sold the junkyard, and had what the OF called a fire sale, and sold all the junk he could.

There must not have been a clause in the contract that said he couldn’t, and it did happen a while ago, according to this OF. The new owner was really upset when he found that many of the walls in the house were all torn apart with an ax.

Another OF said this same kind of reasoning applied in a story he had heard about an OF who hid his money in a wall behind the stove and, when he finally went to get it out of the wall, all he had was confetti because the mice had gotten into it and made nests.

Highway hazards

The OFs also discussed some of the places where they had worked. Those who had worked on the Thruway said it was dangerous.

The OFs who used this road quite a bit also mentioned the close calls they had on this stretch of highway. One said that it was people not being used to driving at 65 miles per hour, and dealing with the wind that was a big problem. Another problem was inattention of drivers not realizing how much ground is covered going this speed with a machine that weighs on the light side one ton.

The OFs who worked on the Thruway mentioned pulling the steering right or left to adjust for driving with a side wind is one of the problems. After driving at a good clip with this constant pressure on the steering wheel and then coming to a bridge that stops the wind, the vehicle will then dart right or left and, if the driver is not concentrating, the vehicle will smack right into a bridge abutment. 

The Old Men of the Mountain who found their way to the Country Café in Schoharie and did not need to drive the Thruway to get there were: Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Chuck Aelesio, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Roger Shafer, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Jack Norray, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.