“Dopey Ideas”

Apparently Steve Jobs had some “dopey ideas,” says Walter Isaacson, his only sanctioned biographer. But Jobs had mostly good ones. He said that the way states certify textbook adoption is “corrupt.” He was right about that. Jobs also didn’t want to be cut open, and refused potentially lifesaving cancer surgery for nine months, to the dismay of friends and family. Maybe that was a dopey decision, which he supposedly lamented a few weeks prior to his death earlier this month.

Who among us hasn’t had a dumb idea? And who’s to say what’s dopey?

I like to quote statistics sometimes. I even remember some. When I taught economic geography at Mount Desert Island High School in the ’90s, I read in a geography annual that the majority of the U.S. population would be Hispanic by 2017. My students thought that was dopey: “No way,” they all insisted. “That can’t happen.”

“Why not?” I asked. And here we are on the way to it happening.

I’m interviewing a 100-year-old woman to write a history for her family. I asked her last week what had surprised her most during her life. “I was never astounded,” she told me, noting that change happens gradually so it’s not so surprising when new ideas became commonplace.

We were just bopping along in this country; most middle-class folks figured their kids would go to college, they would always have jobs and homes. Who ever thought there would be such a disparity in the growth of American incomes? One percent of the population having more wealth than the remaining 99 percent of us didn’t happen overnight: Deregulation of business regulations, corporate greed, corrupt politicians, you name it.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that 50 percent of U.S. workers earned less than $26,364 last year. “According to the Social Security Administration, there were fewer jobs, and overall pay was trending down — except for the wealthiest Americans. The number of people making $1 million or more soared by more than 18 percent from 2009.”

Is it any wonder that Occupy Wall Street protests are growing? According to a recent Time magazine poll, 57 percent of those polled approve of OWS, while 27 percent approve of the Tea Party.

In Arizona, the minimum wage will soon be raised to $7.65, which gives a low-income working person an annual income of $14,500 to live on. Now there’s a dopey idea.


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