I’m taking a few minutes out from my frantic year-long job search to comment on a few things.
Wall Street’s crooked gambling casino that we in America call “the market” was pleased that new unemployment claims dropped this past week to “only” 429,000. Meanwhile, the millionaires’ club a.k.a. the Senate failed to help the long-term unemployed. And by the end of July we will have 3,000,000 jobless who have lost their unemployment payments. Well… that is 3,000,000 minus the half-dozen or so who will manage to find jobs by then.
As many of you know, under America’s system of measurement one can be jobless & not be counted as “unemployed.” “Unemployed” is a term that only applies to those who are eligible for unemployment benefits. Our government is seeking to solve the “unemployment” problem by simply making millions of jobless ineligible for unemployment. To borrow a punchline from Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff, “What a country!”
No, I do not believe government is inherently evil. But government run by the bunch we have as “leaders” sure is.
Here is a “report” (and I use the term loosely) from an Ohio newspaper that could have been ghost-written by one of those millionaire Senators who hate the unemployed. It is a perfect example of why thinking people have abandoned the mainstream media. In case you cannot find my comment below the article, here is what I wrote in reply to this atrocious pablum:
” Wow! Was this article written by someone in the employ of a right-wing think-tank? The only way this article could be more one-sided & damaging to the unemployed is if the following sentences were removed:
“Still, Durant supports extending unemployment benefits. “It’s still the right thing to do, because it’s bad out there,” she said.
“Even critics of the unemployment extensions agree that nobody’s getting rich off of unemployment benefits.”
Otherwise it is filled with ridiculous & unfounded charges against the jobless that the hack reporter never questions nor counter-balances in any way. For instance when the assertion is made that the people are turning-down jobs that pay up to $15 dollars per hour because they make more off unemployment, even after taxes, said reporter never questions that it would mean the unemployed make about $700 + per week. Here in Ohio, the maximum unemployment is about $350 if you have dependent children, so this stuff about turning-down $15 dollar an hour jobs is highly suspect of being pure b.s.
I could go on but I won’t. This article is pure drivel. “
Next up. I am not a bit surprised that joblessness is causing a surge in calls to suicide prevention hotlines. Maybe if enough of we jobless kill ourselves it will bring down the unemployment figures. Come on you lazy jobless, do it for your country!
My bankruptcy was final last week. In case you wonder where I got money to file bankruptcy ($1500), I borrowed it from my 90 year old mommy. My attorney is a very nice fellow. After the hearing, he asked me how I’m holding-up. I confessed that two weeks ago I’d checked myself into the psych ward of a local hospital because I’d gone suicidal over my various financial problems (I’m not alone, see the above paragraph). He cautioned me against such a rash act and admitted he had tried to kill himself when he was 21 and despondent over a broken romance (he is now 60). His advice to someone as “young and sharp” (that’s why I like hanging around older people) as me is that I should move to another, better country with more opportunity. As those of you who have read some of my other blog postings know, I am considering that very action.
I hope all of you are doing well at weathering the economic storms. Remember “Non-Corborundum Illigitimi !” (don’t let the bastards grind you down).
My valet, Higgins, silently entered my stateroom earlier than usual. It was the crack of noon. He leaned over my custom double-king-size bed and gently nudged my shoulder to awaken me. “Sir,” he implored in the sort of hushed-tone one would use to awaken an infant, “you must dress and go into town for your appointment at the unemployment office.”
My groggy voice returned to him, muffled by the eider-down pillow covered with satin pillowcase in which my face was half-buried. “Go ‘way, Higgins, come back and rouse me in half an hour.” I reached my hand out from under the Siberian goose-down comforter to wave him off impatiently.
“A thousand pardons, sir,” Higgins replied consolingly, “but yesterday evening, when you gave instructions to awaken you at noon today, you impressed upon me the importance of your being prompt for this appointment.” He straightened-up and gathered my champagne glass and bottle from the night table. Then his voice took on a note of imperiousness, “I have taken the liberty of drawing your bath and laying-out your special unemployment office ensemble.”
I yawned, stretched, then threw-off the luxurious bed-coverings and sat up. “No, Higgins, I think it best that I do not bathe this morning.”
Hearing this, Higgins, who was walking for the door, halted in his tracks. He half-turned so that I could see his profile but still I could see that the blood had drained from his face. He was barely able to disguise his dismay. “Am I to understand then, sir, that you shall go to your appointment…” he searched for the word, “unwashed?!”
“A man must do what a man must do!” I replied emphatically. “When in Rome…and all that sort of thing.” I added.
“I see.” He replied slowly and with noticeable resignation he added, “Very well, sir.” He then hurried out, closing the door silently behind him.
Minus my usual morning routine of brushing teeth, combing hair, and shaving, it took me almost no time in the lavatory. I quickly donned a dirty t-shirt, baggy faded jeans, and a pair of well-worn flip-flop shoes. In the midst of dressing, I felt a longing for my usual attire of Armani or perhaps Hugo Boss and a comfy, comfy pair of hand-made Bertolis to clad my feet. But, I reminded myself, I must be strong for I was not going to the country club this afternoon. I was instead visiting the unemployment office, or as it was now called “the job center,” to file my request for extended unemployment benefits. And once that was done I would rush to shower, change clothes, and the missus and I would celebrate with a meal in the finest French restaurant, accompanied by a bottle of Romanee’ Conti.
I made my way on deck to discover that my chef, Marcus, had outdone himself with a feast fit for a king: a steaming pot of Hawaiian Kona coffee, truffles and cheese omelette, fresh croissants, buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, and Scottish Oats porridge with a tot of cream and whiskey. As always, Higgins had laid-out the morning newspaper on the table with the page folded to the latest stock quotations. He doffed a cloth napkin onto my lap and stood-by behind me. “Bless his soul,” Higgins told me as I dug into the exquisite repast, “Marcus heard of your impending pilgrimage and hoped to allay some of the discomfort.”
“Please relay my compliments to him.” I heartily replied. “And please also relay to the Captain that we shall set-sail early tomorrow morning at his discretion.” After thoroughly satisfying my hunger, I sat back to enjoy my third perfect cup of coffee. As my eyes scanned across the other yachts in the marina, I again addressed my servant.” I take it that Mrs. Girdle, as is her habit each time we dock, has gone shopping?”
“Oh, indeed, sir.” said Higgins with a hint of amusement. “She left about nine-thirty this morning.”
“Ah. She will, of course, return to us with arms full of purchases from the most exclusive shoppes.” I chuckled, “But I suppose it’s only money, eh Higgins?”
“In truth, sir.” nodded Higgins.
As I sat breathing-in the pure air and sunshine and listening to the gulls, I began to ruminate upon my great, good-fortune. Whereas only a short year ago I had been just another working stooge, my life had taken a turn for the undeniably better when I had lost my job. Since that time, unemployment benefits have afforded me a life usually reserved only for a relative handful of aristocrats. Once upon a time I struggled to pay my bills and now I live in sumptuous luxury, thanks to the public trough: a villa in Southern Italy, world-travel aboard my yacht (which once belonged to Aristotle Onassis), holidays in the Caribbean, hobnobbing with the jet-set at Cannes and the Riviera. The only fly in the ointment was that, every few months, I had to return to the United States to put in another request for more unemployment. However, it was a small enough price to pay.
“I suppose, Higgins, that if I were still working for a living I would now be having lunch. Probably something like a Big Mac and french fries.” I felt my stomach rebel at the thought.
Higgins answered impassively. “That is likely sir.”
“Well then,” I raised my fine china coffee cup for a toast, “here’s to the great American taxpayers. Long may they remain suckers!”
My trip into the city was uneventful. To assure my arrival in a state of optimum, sweaty dishevelment I ordered Sagamore, my chauffeur, to keep the limousine’s windows down during the drive to the unemployment office. But I emphasized he was have the car properly closed and chilled for my triumphant ride home. He dropped me off two blocks from my destination.
As I walked within sight of the job center, I changed my sunny demeanor to the one of proper hangdog shame. I shuffled through the door to take my place in one of the interminable lines. The greater part of an hour passed before I reached the head of the line. Once there, the receptionist assigned me a number and pointed to the overcrowded waiting area. Once there, I found no available molded plastic chair on which to sit, so I wandered about, being sure to listen for my number to be called.
I walked over to the wall-sized bulletin board on which was posted huge numbers and variety of available jobs of all descriptions. I pretended to look them over carefully but inside smirked that I would never be willing to work again as long as unemployment was available. A young black man dressed in regulation droopy pants, muscle shirt, and backwards ball-cap stood to my side, perusing the listings. We happened to lock eyes for a moment and he gave a broad smile. “Ain’t this a buncha bullshit?” he giggled. “Like I’m gonna take one of these jive-ass jobs and give-up my penthouse apartment and rolls? I never had it so good; wish I woulda lost my job a long time ago!” He laughed and slapped his hand onto my shoulder.
“Shhh!” I cautioned him, “You’ll give it away!”
He quickly sobered. “Oh, yeah, right.” We went back to pretending to look at the jobs. He muttered to me out of the side of his mouth. “I can’t wait to get outta these garbage clothes and back into my Jaegers. But like I told my butler this morning, “A man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.”"
“That’s the same thing I told my butler this morning!” We both laughed stealthily. Then the loudspeaker called out “number two-hundred-twenty-four” and he said, “That’s my number! Gotta go. Good talkin’ to ya; take care!” and he hurried away.
I strolled again to the waiting area, where a couple seats had been vacated. I settled uncomfortably onto the cheap plastic chair. Across the way, a thirty-ish caucasian woman in a day-glo pink jogging suit spoke loudly into her cell phone, “…I don’t care how much extra it costs. I’m expecting forty-five guests at this dinner and when I hired you to cater it you assured me there would be no trouble obtaining Almas caviar. Certainly, fly it in by priority shipment if you must! And don’t call me again because I’m in the middle of an important meeting!” and with that she hung up.
Sitting down the row from me, a thin young asian woman whose arms were covered with tattoos said sympathetically, “It’s so hard to find good help these days. You know, I had to fire my maid last week because she showed-up drunk!”
The middle-aged black man beside me spoke up. “You probably did her a favor.” he grinned, “Now she’s on unemployment and got a maid of her own!” We all laughed uproariously. Then, realizing someone in authority might overhear, we fell silent.
Shortly thereafter, my number was called. I ambled into my caseworker’s office with an attitude of dejection. Ms. Breene, the thin, nervous social worker sat behind her desk with my file open in front of her. “Hell, Mr. Girdle.” she said.
“Hello.” I replied.
Before I even had a chance to sit, she asked, “Have you been looking for work?”
I nodded again and said, “Oh, yes” I lied. “Every day.” I almost burst-out laughing.
Ms. Breene made a quick notation in the file. “Alright then. We will give you another four months of unemployment. See you again in four months.” Then she looked up and with a smile and a wink she said, “Say hello to Higgins for me.”
I smiled at her, turned and walked out. As I exited the building, across the plaza I saw the young man whom I had met at the job postings. “Hey, Mr. Two-Twenty-Four!” I shouted happily.
He stopped talking to the pretty, young woman who had his attention. When he saw it was me he grinned and called back, “Going home to cool-off in my swimming pool.”
I nearly danced the two blocks back to my limousine. Sagamore had the interior cooled to perfection. And that was not all he had cooled to perfection. Waiting for me in an ice bucket was a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon. A string tied around the neck of the bottle held a note from my wife that read, “Let’s Not Ever Work Again!”
As my car pulled-away from the curb and I poured a glass of the bubbly, I wiped-away a tear of joy. As my new friend, Mr. Two-Twenty-Four said, “I never had it so good!”
Only the topsy turvy logic of a Washington D.C. politician could take May’s unemployment numbers as evidence that the economy is getting stronger. When all the hiring versus firing are balanced, the U.S. economy created a net of 431,000 jobs created last month. But 411,000 of them were temporary jobs working for the U.S. Census.
Said Washington politician is one President B.S. Obama who was touring a truck dealership in Maryland this morning. Obama took the opportunity of speechifying in front of the dealership’s 50 employees & cited the report as proof that “we are moving in the right direction.” How did the crowd resist pelting him with their shoes?!
Let us do a quick calculation: Take the “official” number of unemployed of 15,000,000 (the actual number of involuntary jobless is much, much higher. But we will use the official number because it is daunting enough). If we use our handy pocket calculators to divide the 15,000,000 unemployed by the 21,000 jobs created, we find that it will take 714 years to provide jobs for the unemployed. And that says nothing about the jobs that will be needed for the young people and immigrants who continually enter the workforce. But to a delusional, detached, empty suit like Barack Obama we are “moving in the right direction.”
Twenty-five years ago I had a boss who was a thorough, tenacious, argumentative Reagan Republican. One of the crackpot theories he extolled was that Americans not only should be permitted to smoke but should be encouraged to smoke. His reasoning was that more citizens would die sooner and relieve the burdens on society. Hey, maybe Obama needs to think outside the box like that! As it is, he has no noticeable job creation program beyond happy talk, in spite of campaign promises he continues policies that actually encourage American business to ship jobs overseas, and his promise to create oodles of green jobs has not amounted to a hill of beans. Congress balks & stalls every time they have to extend unemployment benefits to all those pesky former workers (it’s a lot less fun than voting for more war money).
So our “leaders” better come-up with a solution, fast. Because hundreds of thousands of temporary Census jobs have helped the unemployment numbers for the past several months. Soon those jobs will end and all those workers will go back into the ranks of the unemployed.
Here is a copy of the email I sent to the president, my Congressman, and my two Senators. I urge you to do likewise. There is a link to their offices here on this blog.
“It used to be only the Republicans who did not care about ordinary people. Now I see the Democrats have joined them. Going on vacation while millions of Americans lose their unemployment benefits? Shame on you!
I live in Dayton. Like me, you are old-enough to remember when this city was one of the top in the world for industry. Have you seen it lately? Maybe you should visit it during your vacation and see the closed businesses & factories and talk to the people who struggle to hold on to their lives without jobs.
The unemployed are not slackers or lazy layabouts. They are people who had jobs & lost them because the president & Congress did not do their jobs of keeping the economy on-track.
Why did I vote for a Democrat president & Congress if you are going to act like Republicans. And save me the nice-sounding speeches, show me some backbone and take action! If I cannot count on you now, then do not count on my vote in the next election.”
This is a time that tries the souls of conscientious people. The greed, graft, and crookedness has become overwhelming. I don’t need to tell you about it; you see the daily parade of corrupted politicians, plutocrats and public figures tipping their hats and waving as they pass by. Each one of them makes makes the world a little crummier, like a filthy King Midas turning everything they touch into a stinking pile of shit.
Citizen outrage has no affect. Oh sure, the media carps and Congress holds hearings seemingly every week and the President blusters about being angry and business leaders assure us it’s just because of a few bad apples. But nothing helps. The parade of bought bureaucrats, environmental rapists, and philandering celebrities gets larger every day until now there seem to be more people in the parade than watching it.
These latest few weeks have seemed especially bad. I think it’s a combination of factors: the realization that Obama is truly just more of the same, BP has decimated a large part of the world’s ocean and will skip merrily away without paying, and the long hoped for economic “recovery” won’t include jobs for the unemployed. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to more people who just seem ready to give up. They were once optimistic and now have lost hope. They would throw in the towel, but like Charlie Brown once asked in one of the old Peanuts comic strips, “Where does one go to give up?” An older man I spoke with said he was ready to wave the white flag of surrender while shouting to the elite: “You win! I give up! You’ve fucked me out of my job and everything I had. Go ahead and destroy the world- I can’t stop you!”
A young Obama voter I talked to rationalized his new found apathy by saying, “For hundreds, maybe thousands of years the people who are evil have lost but each time. But they learned a little bit more about how to do better the next time. Now they’ve learned enough that they control pretty much everything including the media. Nothing we say or do makes any difference. If we march in the streets it doesn’t get reported, so why bother?” I wish I could say that I had a response other than to mutter a few platitudes.
Telling people to let a smile be their umbrella seems futile when the rainshower has turned into a hurricane.
But still I refuse to give up. Why?
Part of it is that I don’t want to give the bullies of the world the satisfaction of winning. For over half a century I’ve endured physical and emotional punches that many times should have taken me out. But they didn’t. And sometimes I came back and won. Also, I don’t want to give up just before I could have won. It’s sort of like when someone asked comedian Woody Allen, since he was miserable and didn’t believe in God or Heaven or Hell or much of anything, why didn’t he just kill himself? His answer was that he wouldn’t want to blow his brains out and then read in the newspaper that “they’d found something.”
The other part is that usually at my moment of deepest despair something happens to inspire me to go on. The latest example being this: A young lady came to Easter services at the Spiritual Center. She didn’t normally attend church and had never been to ours before. She had come that day mostly because a friend had let her know that our progressive congregation includes an outreach program for pets. We pray for them, we conduct Reiki healing for them, and they can even attend services. This young lady was distraught because her beloved 10-year-old cat had developed a large tumor over his right ear. The veterinarian urged immediate surgery, which had no guarantee of success in stemming the tide of what looked like spreading cancer. She was willing to try it but the operation was impossible because her near minimum wage salary didn’t allow her to afford the $700 cost (paid in advance).
I introduced her to our head of animal spiritual connection. To be brief, we all agreed to frequently pray for the cat’s healing while picturing in our minds the cat as totally healthy (this is based upon the philosophy called Religious Science). For two weeks, I set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day for this task.
Good news! Earlier this week I heard from the young lady. Her cat is completely well! I went over to see. I had stopped by a few weeks ago and saw for myself the walnut sized tumor on his head and his noticeably shaky state of health. Now the tumor is gone without a trace and the affectionate creature could not appear happier or healthier. He has a new lease on life. And in some ways, so have I.
He beat the odds and so can we. Good people working together can make a difference. Yes there are many bad people in our world who seek to fill us with fear so they can keep us down. They want us to be like children who are afraid of the Boogie Man. When you feel that fear, stop and remind yourself that the Boogie Man only has as much power as we give him because he isn’t real. If we refuse to believe in him then he evaporates into nothingness. When you see others in fear, remind them of the same. The Apostle, Paul urged us to “… not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) Transform your mind and the minds of people around you with positive and beautiful thoughts and the world will become better.
Perhaps the depth of despair which we find ourselves in will be the turning point toward better times, much like the old platitude says, “It is always darkest before the dawn.”
On Sunday, President Obama and his eagle-adorned bomber jacket made a surprise visit to the troops in Afghanistan. While there he also took Afghan President Karzai to task for his government’s corruption. Obama lecturing Karzai about government corruption is like some small-time hood being rebuked by Don Vito Corleone.
And while I’m on the subject of President Bush… oops, I mean Obama. I see our Commander-in-Chief is cutting the 2011 funds for the home heating assistance program by 35% ! The program has seen record applications for assistance each of the past three years. And let me tell you, because I know first-hand, those applications are not easy to make. Here in my city, the poor stand in line during freezing weather in the middle of the night to get in the office first thing when it opens; otherwise no heat for you! People literally camp-out all-night like they are trying to get tickets to a rock concert, just to assure their place in line. As it is, the program has a daily quota of serving maybe a dozen people when three or four times that many are in line, so most the people who need help get turned away. And to add insult to injury, since the process takes most of a business-day to complete, that means applicants often must miss work and, therefore, money in their paycheck. Record numbers of Americans are clinging to this program in order to stay alive and the Prez cuts the funding by a third. And this guy is supposed to be the Liberal/Marxist! Maybe in the 2012 budget he will call for keeping poor people warm by burning them as fuel in the furnaces of rich people’s homes.
In other news, I see Congress has deluded itself into thinking it earned a rest, so it started a 2-week break on Thursday. Technically this is not a break, because our “public servants” are supposed to be going back to the offices in their home states to work & keep in touch with constituents (please let me know if you spot any of them around your town). But before leaving to touch the voters, they blew off a few pressing issues like making sure millions of unemployed will continue to get the money they depend on in order to live. Too bad Obama did not stay in Washington, D.C. because he would have probably called them back into session to tackle this vital issue….Just kidding! Obama cares no more for the plight of the unemployed than does my cat!
One of the main lessons I have learned from the Obama presidency is that dark skin is no automatic indication of a person’s compassion or progressive-politics. Most of us made that assumption (and some still do), helped-along of course by B.O.’s talk of “change.” Now that he is in office we find ourselves stuck with just another reactionary power junkie who prosecutes war while tossing poor people on the trash heap.
Please won’t some Obamapologist remind me again how much better-off we are than if McCain had won?
The group Get Out Of Our House bills itself as “a non-partisan plan to evict the career politicians from the U.S. House of Representatives. With all my heart I believe the only way to save our nation from further ruin is to unseat our uncaring, unresponsive, elite “rulers” and replace them with sensible, compassionate citizen representatives.
The GOOOH home page video shows a more conservative slant than I support. But I think their overall approach makes sense, so I plan to join and participate. Here is an excerpt from the “learn” section of their website; read it and see what you think:
The GOOOH process allows Americans of every political leaning to participate in the selection of their District’s Representative while being considered themselves. Through GOOOH’s Candidate Selection Sessions you and your peers will select the candidate in your district who best represents your district’s views. Even if you do not wish to become your district’s representative you will want to participate in the process and have a direct say in who is chosen to represent your district. GOOOH will fund a single national campaign to promote the 435 candidates (one from each district) who are selected to run against the party politicians. Because GOOOH is a process for selecting representatives (not a “party”) we expect a person left of center to be selected in San Francisco and one right of center in Colorado Springs — but it will be up to the GOOOH members in each district to decide.
Originally, the founder of GOOOH proposed excluding lawyers, members of political families, and individuals with more than $11.5 million in assets (250 times the median income). They were not to be excluded because they are bad people, but because they are overly represented in government today and, generally speaking, no longer seem to represent the common man. However, based on input from our members, the Question Committee has voted to remove the exclusion of lawyers and the wealthy. Instead, it has been decided that members of these two groups must simply declare that they are a lawyer or have more than $11.5m in assets in each Selection Session in which they participate. It will be up to the participants in each pool to decide whether or not that is of concern. We believe this change is indicative of the continuing evolution of the GOOOH system.
I am completely fed-up with the antics of both political parties. If you are too, then I encourage you to visit the GOOOH website. You’ll find them in a column to your right, under this blog’s “your public servants” links.
Here is a map showing how the cancer of unemployment has swept our nation over the past couple years. Sadly, in spite of this devastation, the members of Congress still have their jobs.
Consumer bankruptcies continue to rise. (Yours truly will soon be joining their ranks.)
Here is more news on the unemployment front.
A young lady came to our door this afternoon. She was a volunteer for the “Working America” organization, which is helping the AFL-CIO unions canvass the neighborhoods. They are mounting a letter-writing campaign for citizens to send letters to Working America which they will forward en masse to Republican Senator, George Voinovich, expressing support for jobs programs in place of continued bail-outs for the fat-cats. Myrtle & I told her we email the Whitehouse & Congress most every week, but we’d be happy to compose & print a letter which she could put into Working America’s mass mailing campaign. I implore you to write to your public servants (that is what they are, although they have forgotten it!) at the links provided on this blog roll.
In case you want to join their letter-writing campaign, Working America’s address is:
815 16th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
Here’s the text of the letter I sent them:
Nine years ago, [colonelgirdle] was downsized from his good job of 22 years. We put everything we had into a small business that went under in the economic crash early last year. (See the attached letter that has a reprint of our blog, “Then the Financial Tsunami Hit.”) We are struggling to hold onto what little we have left. Are we angry that our government takes money from people like us and bails-out BIG corporations and also gives incentives to send our good jobs to other countries? You bet!
At this point most everyone we know is in financial trouble. They’ve lost their jobs, businesses, and homes. Those who are lucky enough to still have a job have had their pay and work hours cut. They can’t afford to heat their homes, health-care, or educational costs. In short, America is in BIG, BIG TROUBLE. Soon people like us may be forced out of our homes and where are we going to go? Maybe onto YOUR FRONT LAWN.
We remind you that you are a public servant. So it’s time for you to do your job! We want:
Leftover bank bail-out money to be used for restoring Main Street’s economy.
Repair & expansion of our nation’s infrastructure.
Help in establishing alternate energy sources & green jobs.
Assistance to our local & state governments that are struggling to maintain services.
Additional funds for social programs to help the working poor & unemployed.
Cuts in out-of-control military spending & investigation of war profiteering.
EXTENSIONS IN UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS AND ADDITIONAL JOB TRAINING PROGRAMS.
Wesley Quick, a good friend of mine read my essay “Outstanding in His Field” and, instead of just accepting my complaints, sent in a comment that asked me to put forth a solution. A fair question, since I do not believe in whining without having a course of action for making things better. I started to put my answer into the “comments” section but thought I’d post it more widely on the blog.
In order to move toward a solution, we must first realize the fundamental problem we are up against. Some political commentators have come close to seeing the problem by talking about how the ultra right-wing has been allowed to “frame the discussion” in their own terms. But it goes deeper than that. The haters have actually been allowed to create the reality in which we now live. And that reality is a nightmare. A nightmare, that is, for all but the haters who use it to exploit and abuse the rest of us for their own gain.
Although each of us has our own viewpoint of reality, our larger world is shaped by the consensus of what we as a group agree the world looks like. And the future is shaped by what we believe the world should look like and what we think is possible. To turn an old quote on its head, “If you don’t believe it, you can’t achieve it.”
In the famous book “1984,”George Orwell showed an oppressive world where an omnipresent & evil government had achieved near-total control and oppression of the populace. The government expected to keep the oppression going forever, since the inhabitants of that society could no longer even conceive of a different, better way of life. The tools to do so had been taken away from them. They were kept in constant fear & hatred: of their neighbors, coworkers, and even their children accusing them of traitorous non-conformity; of scarcity of the necessities of life; of the enemies with which their nation was at war; of their own natural urges for freedom, sex, or love. By keeping them locked into emotional upheaval they had no time to think about rebellion. The government “framed the discussion” by corrupting rational thought through insisting on nonsense ideas, such as that “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.” The basic ability of people to evolve ideas of freedom and rebellion was short-circuited by dumbing-down the language. Actions start with thoughts and thoughts start with words, so words that expressed taboo thoughts (such as freedom or rebellion) were removed from the vocabulary. And history was molded to the government’s whim by destroying all documents that were contrary to the officially approved story. Anyone who remembered events that did not fit the official story would be a nut who could show no evidence. In these ways the government created its own “reality.”
During an interview with an“Esquire” magazine reporter in 2002, an unnamed senior adviser to President Bush made a strange assertion to the effect that the Bush Whitehouse was creating its “own reality.” This sounds like arrogance of the most ridiculous kind. But I think that is exactly what they’ve done. Now it is their world and we only live in it.
Through 30 years of steady, stubborn, concentrated, and crafty effort the loonies took over the asylum. It all started with Ronald Reagan, who started by convincing the most vulnerable Americans that they were being milked by Welfare Queens, that marijuana was “the most dangerous drug,” and that trickle-down economics was the path to national salvation. His quakery was reenforced by the newly forged right-wing (hate) talk radio & tv. Our perception of reality began to change under a steady assault of being told to “just say no” and that ketchup was a vegetable suitable for a balanced school lunch. Then we had the first George Bush and his “kinder, gentler” America that was really meaner and nastier (freedom is slavery), followed by “liberal” Bill Clinton who lead us into conservative territory where Reagan would have been proud. By the turn of the century, much of the country had bought into the lie that a rising stock market was the lifeblood of the nation.
Then came Dubya. If you remember, after the Supreme Court selected him President he seemed pretty much an irrelevant hick. But in the atmosphere of fear & hatred following September 11th, 2001 he and his minions were comfortably in the driver’s seat, creating their own reality. Liberals, progressives, populists, peaceniks, leftists, dissenters, doubters, and other “traitors” were buried under shouts of “united we stand.” My daughter & I attended a Geoge Carlin concert in Dayton shortly after the attack wherein the normally uninhibited comedian declared a moratorium on attacking our government (I would not have believed it if I had not heard it with my very own ears).
Obama’s America still lives in Bush’s reality: We still fight endless wars to bring democracy to the world; we still bail-out the too-big-to-fail banks and corporations; universal healthcare is still off the table; we still have to globalize our industries until none remain; programs like food stamps, Social Security, and unemployment are too still too expensive to keep funding; we still must spend more on “defense” than the next 46 countries combined. Our new President has turned-out to be politically to the right of Dwight Eisenhower but he is labelled a liberal-socialist-communist-marxist. Business leaders and politicians spout-off about how they are “doing God’s business” or compare poor children getting reduced price school lunches to feeding stray animals- and they are treated like reputable, sane people!
We must change the nightmare that America has become and the nightmare America has become for the world. I absolutely believe the first step is that we must regain our power to imagine the world as it should be. See that a better world is necessary and that it is possible. We must stop accepting the visions of reality created by crazy, hate-filled cranks! Once we do that, good change will naturally follow.