Back in 2005, I penned a screed, little read but appreciated by those few who did, attacking Republicons, Democridiots, and everyone else in between.
Today, Americans are more angry, scared, and frustrated; they’re retreating back to their Bibles and guns — oops! Poor choice of words there, let me rephrase that: We’ve lost faith in almost everything and everyone and are ripe for the picking by those who reinforce our deepest fears. Anyone for Glenn “I Really Am Crying, it’s not Makeup” Beck or Sarah “I’m Too Sexy for My Shoes” Palin? Rush “Bubbles” Limbaugh? Ed “The Whale” Schultz? How can anyone take them seriously?
What we need are leaders who understand our fears but have a vision for the future that is believable and attainable. Yeah, and I need a hair transplant — badly. But just when the good ol’ US of A needs forward-looking leadership, both the fat guys and the asses are looking backwards. Fred Hiatt, in the Washington Post of October 18, wrote in an op-ed, “…in this midterm election they [politicians] seem increasingly pointed to the past.”
Some Republicons want to repeal the 17th amendment, which called for the direct election of senators by the people. Return that right to the state legislatures as the Foundling Fathers wanted. Yup, just the kind of issue that will rescue America. And the Democridiots can’t stop thinking about yesterday, when they had George Bush to kick around, while the nonsense that business is the root of all evil does nothing but further isolate certain liberals from reality.
Wonderfully, the attacks aren’t limited to interparty squabbles. Democridiots are spraining ankles and dislocating knees scrambling away from President Obama’s legislative victories. Many Republicons decided it’s not o.k. to bound around in a Nazi uniform in the name of historic reenactment.
Best of all, Sen. John McCain’s daughter, Meghan, startled pachyderms & delighted mules when she said that Christine O’Donnel “is seen by many young Republicans as nut job.” On ABC’s This Week, McCain said O’Donnell “has no real history, no real success in any kind of business.” But the witch won the nod to be the Republicon candidate in Delaware. Go figure.
Posturing panderers to the public. Yeah, TARP and other rescue bills did nothing but increase the national debt. Without those, we’d be in a depression not seen since the 1930s. Precious few economists from either side would disagree with that. But it’s great fodder for the right, even when they’re wrong.
Harken to the Words of Jesus. Or, It’s Mine, All Mine
Love they neighbor as thyself? As times get tougher, Americans seem to become more mean spirited and greedy. Poverty in America is at a fifteen-year high, 14.3%, according to a Census Bureau report issued last Thursday. That’s one in seven, or 44 million Americans. It gets better: Twenty percent of children in America live in poverty. That’s one in five children, people. Does that statistic give you pause for even a moment? Do you care? Nah. Fuck the poor people. They’re poor because they’re lazy, genetically deficient, culturally diseased.
Of course, the real poverty rate is much higher, but it’s held down by two factors: people living with relatives or parents or sharing couches, and, most incredibly, a poverty rate for a family of four set at $22,050. And I don’t want to hear from college kids about how they live just fine in an apartment on $5,000 or those who argue that the figure doesn’t include food stamps and other government socialist programs. A family of four would be poverty stricken if they earned $30 thousand — or 40. But no one wants to face that reality. We’ve returned to the caves and are hiding under rocks, surrounded by what wealth we can accumulate.
Ah, if people would only remember their Bible, remember what it means to be good Christians.
Gospel of Mark, 12:30: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 12:31: And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” [Emphasis added.]
And despite the incredible insensitivity of too many conservatives, “social scientists are rejecting the notion of a monolithic and unchanging culture of poverty. They attribute destructive attitudes and behavior not to inherent moral character but to sustained racism and isolation.”
How can any nation look to us for leadership when one in five of our children live in poverty? How can we think of ourselves as special, as something different? We’ve turned into pathetic, little grasping trolls, gathering whatever we can, regardless of the effect it has on others. Do unto others whatever you want, because if they get the chance, they’ll do it to you.
On the flip side, the rich do manage to get richer, regardless of what happens. Why conservatives think this is a good thing is one of life’s great mysteries. Cornell University economics professor Robert Frank, in a New York Times article, wrote that in the three decades after World War II, incomes rose for all people pretty equally and we developed an infrastructure that was the envy of the world.
Compare those decades to the past three. Our infrastructure is a dangerous joke and the Republicons continue to fight Obama on any programs, not only to repair our infrastructure, but to catch up with the rest of the world in high-speed rail and broadband access. They seem to forget that investments such as these pay off for both the people and the government. It’s the same as a capital expense in business, you have to invest to make money. Compared to the French and Chinese, for example, we’re a third-world country when it comes to infrastructure.
Just as ominous, says Professor Frank, “most significant income growth has been concentrated at the top of the scale. The top one percent gobbled 23.5% of total income over the past 30 years (it was 8.9% in 1976), while “the average inflation-adjusted hourly wage declined by more than 7 percent.” Our middle class is disappearing, but too few are paying attention to this minor social phenomenon.
I know, Saint Ronald the Reagan, who demonstrated that you could increase wealth at the top by sending the country into extraordinary debt, believed that all that money would pass down to the middle class and poor like drool from a hungry baby. Anyone who still believes in supply side economics should wake up and smell the weeds.
Don’t Soak The Rich, That May Be Me One Day
But explain to me, if you will, why poor and middle class conservatives reject any tax increases on most wealthy? Do they really think they have a chance of someday reaching those exalted heights? If so, they should check out numerous articles that make the point that, in America, “the rate of upward mobility has stagnated overall, which means it is no easier for the poor to move up today than it was in the 1970s.”
What blind mice we are. Survey after survey reveals that most Americans still believe you can make it to the top. Go to college, work hard, play the game, and you’ll succeed. And it doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, green, orange or were born in a mansion or a shack. The great American individualist. What a crock.
Why, just consider our poor Canadian cousins living under socialism? Boy, do they got it bad — except, according to The Economic Mobility Project, a Pew Charitable Trust initiative, “The United States has less economic mobility than Canada as revealed by comparable estimates of earnings mobility across the generations.”
Yeah, socialism sucks, don’t it. Them commie creeps. And Obama’s a secret communist, Nazi, Muslim who’s trying to destroy America. So how come, “By international standards, the United States has an unusually low level of inter-generational mobility, lower than in France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark. Among high-income countries only the United Kingdom had a lower rate of mobility than the United States.” Gotta love them Brits.
Upward mobility has become a myth. The rich have developed all sorts of ways to grow fatter and fatter and will do everything in their power to deny it to the rest of the country. That’s the reality. Ooooh, Obama wants to do income redistribution, what a commie pinko. What do you think the graduated income tax is if not income redistribution, the law of the land for about eighty years? (Although there are those who think that’s unfair, those who dream of being successful and enjoy a life where the rich have all the levers of power.)
And Mr. President. Stop being the professor and return to the soaring rhetoric of the campaign. You gave us hope and optimism. You made us believe things could be different. Sure, it’s harder once you get in that white mausoleum but leaving the creation of legislation to achieve your vision to Congress is like asking Wall Street to be more careful with our money. Where the hell were you during all the debates over health care, financial reform, and continuing economic stimulus? Sneaking a smoke outside of the Oval Office? Leaving it to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi? I would posit that they lack a certain je ne sais quoi” (French for “what were you thinking?”); they’re the last people I’d want carrying my water — or watching my back.
Ah, we sit back and blame Congress, the president, the media, big business, the liberals, the conservatives, the Lithuanians. Anywhere we can point a finger to avoid addressing the truth that, as Pogo once said, “we have met the enemy and he is us.”
Oh, we’ll probably stumble our way back to a version of prosperity, but I fear that something will have been lost, some sense of American nobility and honor, some moral grounding that transcends the idiotic ranting from the left and right, some reason to be proud to be Americans.
However, through my frustration and anger, I do hold one truth to be self-evident:
In Jameson VeritasPowered by Sidelines