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.
If you want a class war, don’t go after the poor.
The rich bankrupted this country.
Here, once again is the link to a Facebook group calling for drug testing the corporate fat cats. Visit & join if you are inclined.
A movement is growing on Facebook. This controversial fan group has 2 million members and grows every minute. The issue is a well known one, and one that may hit home for many of us. The subject is welfare, and this Facebook group declares that every single welfare recipient should be drug tested before they receive their benefits. As the site so aptly states, the individuals in this group want real change. Or, as they say it, “No more crackheads living off our hard earned money.”
If you are interested in having your faith in humanity shook to the point of almost no return, go ahead and join this group and try to talk some logic into the members. I joined after seeing that several of my Facebook “friends” had joined. When I requested some sort of explanation from those I know as to WHY in the WORLD they would support something like this, I was met with silence. So, I headed in, unprepared for the extreme levels of bigotry, racism, elitism, and all over rampant HATRED that this Facebook group breeds.
The first things you will see on the wall are members declaring “I have to take a drug test for my job! So should they! After all, I go to work everyday, and all they do is sit on their lazy ass.” This is by far the most popular battle cry. Even if you try to explain that “No. You do not HAVE to take a drug test either. You CHOSE your place of employment. A welfare recipient cannot go to ANOTHER government for help” they still deny it. Just because they allowed their own rights to be stomped on by an employer everyone should, I suppose.
Now Pippilotta, you may say, isn’t mandatory drug testing against our great Constitution? Haha, of COURSE it is. But when did we, as Americans, let a petty thing like the Constitution get in the way of our love of repressing the weak? If you bring up this silly Constitutional issue on this Facebook page, you will be met with disdain, twisted quotes by the Founding Fathers, and above all else, people claiming that “Duh! We can just change the Constitution to allow it.” Overall, you get the impression from most of these people that the bottom line is: the Constitution does not apply to poor people. Period.
This group doesn’t stop at the drug testing, either. I have seen mandatory sterilization advocated almost every time I am in this group. One woman was saying that females should have a mandatory “tubal” before receiving her “WIC” benefits. They support mandatory birth control. As in, a woman would have to get a depo provera shot before receiving benefits. What in the world is wrong with these people? I suppose the “if you can’t feed ‘em don’t breed em” thing was popularized recently by South Carolina’s Leutenant Govenor Andre Bauer comparing the poor to stray animals. We would think that an outrageous and heartless statement would be looked upon with disgust by the general public. At least I know when I heard about it I wanted to punch his face. However, apparently his comments rang true enough for a number of people that they are very fond of quoting it in this Facebook group.
Another very popular wall post in the Drug Tests for Welfare group is what I like to call the “Fairy Tale of the Welfare Queen.” All of these stories go the same way. “I had just gotten done working my fingers to the bone at my 9-5, when a poor person/welfare receipient/drug user (if you are one of these things, you are the other) pulled up in their Cadillac Escalade and piled their 12 kids into Wal-Mart. They were dressed in the best finery and were adorned with gold jewelery and designer purses. They proceeded to fill up their cart with nothing but lobster, steak, and soda pop. I can barely afford a gallon of milk because the welfare program is bleeding my paycheck dry!”
This is the part that I think is the absolute saddest. In fact, the “Welfare Queen Fairy Tale” spawned a catchphrase with opponents of the group: “Don’t you hate how rich poor people are?”
The people in this Facebook group are consumed with rage at welfare recipients. They assume that they are all good for nothing drug users, who don’t work and sit at home all day, staring at their big screens and shooting dope. But even if they ARE that (which I am NOT for one moment even suggesting that they are) what about that life is worth the brainpower that it takes to ENVY it. So what if they drive a nice car? Carry a designer purse? WHO CARES? Are our lives really that void of meaning and are we so addicted to meaningless consumer products that we DARE be jealous of someone scrapes by with almost nothing?
I have been on welfare since my daughter was born. I am not a drug “user.” I do not sit at home all day on my ass. I work and I go to school and I am determined to be better than I am. Does everyone who receives welfare have this drive? No. But I’m almost damned certain that the MAJORITY of them would rather not be on welfare and legitimately want a better life for themselves. There is absolutely no reason that everyone who needs help from this nation should be treated like a criminal.
ESPECIALLY since research has already proved that “Welfare recipients are no more likely to use drugs than the rest of the population.”
Our society has sunk to the point where ideas that flourish in this group are acceptable in mainstream society and this is absolutely sickening. Since when, did we as an American Democracy, accept the following ideas:
*FORCING a fellow citizen to pee in a cup in order to receive food stamps to allow his family to survive.
*FORCING a woman to go on birth control/get her tubes tied/be sterilized
*ALLOWING a family to starve if they “refuse to work.” (This idea is also used for when the parent fails the drug test.) One man actually told me that America needs to get back in touch with the “Jamestown [colony] Mentality.
*HATING the weakest people in our society because we incorrectly blame them for the ruin and destruction of our nation.
*SHAMING those who need help into feeling like a common beggar when they go to the welfare office to receive help.
*RESTRICTING what a person can and cannot purchase food wise.
Some other ideas worth of note are: Poor people should not be allowed to have phones. They should not be allowed to have a car.
I realize that I’ve moved around from topic to topic, but even thinking about this group gets me bent out of shape. I know that its the internet, and taking it too seriously isn’t a good idea, but the people and their ideas aren’t going to stop at the computer. The fact that there are people out there, who would rather see me starve to death than give me three cents from their paycheck……..it’s just mindboggling.
Who are we now? We’re at war with one another. Those of us at the bottom of the ladder fight with each other like stray dogs, while those at the top throw us their scraps and cackle right in our faces. People need to WAKE UP. The poor are not what’s robbing this country. A “welfare momma” won’t “steal” as much from our system IN A LIFETIME as the the corporate war mongers who in 2009 alone, made $23 billion in bonuses. With this money we could send 460,000 to Harvard, buy insurance for 1.7 million families.
We’re not saying it’s appropriate for people to not be awarded for hard work, but when you’ve got people in this country making that kind of money, while others go to bed hungry and sleep on park benches something is wrong.
The elite have taught us to blame the country’s economic woes and distresses on the working poor. They want it that way, cus GUESS WHAT? If we start placing the blame on them, WE MIGHT WANT A PIECE OF THEIR PRECIOUS PIE. We might actually start demanding that taxpaying citizens be given a decent living wage, health insurance, and other privileges reserved only for the dangerously wealthy.
I’m not even providing a link for the Drug Test group, because personally, I don’t feel like advertising their sickness. I just warn you, if you feel like going in and seeing what it’s all about, you will not like what you see.
My daughter, Pippilotta, phoned me to discuss my latest post, “Reduced-Price School Lunches Are Ruining This Country!” She related the reactionary opinions of South Carolina’s Lt. Governor, Rudolph Bauer to a Facebook site she had found some time ago, wherein participants are demanding drug-testing for all welfare recipients. Typical of Pippilotta, because she saw & disagreed with that group, she took action and started her own in which she calls for all corporate fat-cats to be drug tested (I am so proud!)
On a similar note, earlier this spring Florida State Senator, Mike Bennett proposed random drug testing as a requisite for collecting unemployment benefits. Need I tell you that I sent him an extremely indignant letter. The suggestion that unemployed citizens are in their situation because they are hooked on drugs is insulting.
A short time later, when I recounted the phone conversation to my better-half, Myrtle, she put forth the idea that, perhaps Messrs. Bauer and Bennett are addled in their thought processes because they are high on drugs. This caused the light of realization to illumine my tired brain. Yes! Why hadn’t I seen it before: These reactionary dopes are obviously on dope!
Finally, Pat Robertson’s comments make sense! I cite as a supportive example the sad case of the foam-mouthed-insane entertainer, Rush Limbaugh, whose crazy rantings were proven to be a drug-inspired cry for help.
We citizens should demand drug-testing for public figures who exhibit specious reasoning when addressing issues, advocate measures aimed at punishing those who are victims of our aberrant economic system, or especially spout ideologies that normal people thought went down when the Allies took Berlin in 1945.