Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Friends In Need
Here's how I look at it: you do what you have to do.
At the moment my wife and I are spending more helping people in our family than we are on ourselves. Literally. Quite a bit more. I won't say I'm thrilled about it, but it's something I want to do, feel obliged to do, and am willing to cut back in other areas in order to do it. My car is about to roll 200K, and I think it's got a few more in it. Our deck is aging poorly, but we can do without replacing it. I like having patches on my jeans; makes me feel like a kid again. Traveling is on extended hold.
The thing is, as a country, we've been fed for so long the false notion that tax cuts solve everything, that ignoring essential needs is okay as long as you invade a country once in a while, that there's absolutely no sense of willingness to pitch in in a time of need. Not, in any case, from the loudest on the right.
As in many areas, it's easier to believe than to face facts. How nice it would be if we had no obligations except to ourselves. How pleasant it's been to ignore the crumbling of our economy, the failings of our health care system, the falling behind of our educational institutions, our roads and bridges. How sweet to accept -- because we want to, we really want to -- the smoke and mirrors of tax cuts and deregulation, the sexiness of self-interest. What a great country that demands nothing more of so-called patriots than to slap on a bumper magnet and call it sacrifice. Environment? Oil dependence? What silly issues. Tell me I should use less gasoline? Pay for our excesses? In what world??
So we have tea parties. We have a mob mentality, unformed, but angry. At ... what? Taxes returning to 10% less than under Reagan, on the richest among us. Bailouts, formulated by Bush and Paulson, but now, somehow, blamed on Obama. Government spending to restart the economy, not unlike my spending on my relatives. Still laboring under the delusion that we can have what we want without paying for it, that we can forever ignore the needs of others, these people are pissed, all right. Screw those liberal fascists (oxymoron be damned!) for telling me there's more to citizenship than me me me.
Funny thing is, I bet a lot of these teabaggers wouldn't rise up in protest if their families were in need. Would they? Would they call for new parents if they were told they couldn't afford a vacation this year because there was a need to fix the leaking roof and help cousin Jack with his mortgage payments? Would they grab signs and march up and down their street demanding a higher allowance even if it meant their siblings would have to drop out of school? That's exactly what their default leaders are fomenting -- people like Hannity and Beck and O'Reilly and Coulter and Gingrich and Savage and Malkin, etc., ad nauseum: people who have more money than their followers could ever imagine, and always will. People for whom the state of the economy and of the nation are no more personally impactful than was the fate of New Orleans, and never will be.
But it's even weirder even than that. These people have been whipped up and astroturfed into raging against the people and philosophies who are trying to fix the problems, rather than the people and philosophies who caused them all. It's got to be one of the greatest examples of cynical manipulation of public sentiment since... since... well, since Dick Cheney and George Bush used their "war on terror" to justify looting the country and trashing its constitution.
I don't like spending what I am, but I do it. I expect that sometime conditions will be such that I'll not have to keep doing so, and that it will have been worth the investment: if not for me, then for the ones I'm helping.
Helping out in a time of need; coming together for the common good. In those railing against Barack Obama, there's none of that sentiment; it couldn't be further from their minds. And they're the Christians!