Monday, October 28, 2013

Status Report

I'm trying not to give so much of a shit, and it seems to be working, a little. Or maybe it's less about no longer caring; just feeling less like writing about it. Sort of whatever it was that led me to quit my weekly newspaper column: a sense of futility. And of living in a world populated by people I simply can't understand.

A group of people I know, medical types, mostly, who don't have to worry about money, were participating in a thread on Facebook recently (I couldn't put in my two cents because the thread was started by someone who's not a FB "friend.") All except one were expressing outrage -- pretty much dredging up Mitt Romney's 47% complaints -- at how many people in the US are on what they see as the dole. You know, like Social Security, disability, food stamps. Those things that are destroying America. The possibility that it's the other way around doesn't occur to them.

One of them, and only one, tried to point out the obvious: central to all this is the ever-increasing income and wealth disparity in this country. Teabagging Republicans have done everything they can to prevent the government from creating jobs beyond the stimulus, for which none of them voted, and which was too full of tax breaks and not enough job creation. To get R votes. They loves them some tax structure that makes the disparity even worse, and wants them even more of it. So when the inevitable happens -- the rich getting way, way richer, and the not-rich getting nowhere -- they look at those who, as a result of their policies, can't find jobs, who need public assistance of one sort or another, and scream "what is this country coming to?" Horrible, is what they think it is. All of those people curb-thrown by their revenue-refusing, job-preventing Congressional nay-saying; why, it's, it's... it's almost as if Reaganomics was a load of crap!! But how could that be? It's been so good to us, they think.

Railing their outrage, not a one of them, save good-hearted Jim, cares to address this central failing, this rotting at the core caused by the policies they so love. None wants to consider how such massive wealth and income inequality is unsustainable. For the very capitalism they so love, and for the democracy they don't, really.

What's their solution? More of the same, only worse: cut food stamps, reduce Medicaid, defund Affordable Care, gut Social Security. Cut taxes even more on the wealthy. Make it, in all ways, headed even faster to failure. The obvious eludes them, rejected out of hand: a tax structure that allows for programs to end the dependency they find so offensive. Jobs. Education. Research. Rebuilding our failing infrastructure. Facilitating innovation. Raising wages.

What these people -- these already made-it, teabagging people -- want is even more of exactly that which has led us to where we are and which will block all avenues out of it. In this "recovery," we've created more billionaires, banks are rolling in (non-lended) dough, executive pay is beyond the sky, greater and greater wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer. That, more than anything else, explains the situation those people find so disturbing. What else would one expect, when virtually all capital is in the hands of a small percentage; and when the last thing they're interested in is sharing any of it? To argue that it's wrong is not to be a socialist, or an anti-capitalist. Quite, and entirely, the opposite. Because its effect is to make our consumer-based, consumption-based (for better or worse) capitalist economy fail. Which it's doing, right before their blindered eyes.

Those who actually believe in capitalism, in a consumer-based economy, in the ethic of production producing success, ought to be those most alarmed at the trend, born when Saint Ronald planted his trickle-down brain worm in those of others, living on despite its obvious failure, because Ronnie gave everyone an excuse for being selfishly short-sighted. Instead, they point at the results and harumph, and vote Republican. Instead, they want more of the same. It doesn't work. It never has. Our system depends on enough money in the hands of enough people to make it hum. Republican policies, which my friends seem to love, is the root cause of the very failures that fill them with such outrage. And they're as blind to it as they can be.

I'd have broken into the thread and said all of this there, if I could have; and it would have done not a damn bit of good. Thoughts passing in the night. Non-overlapping realities, and, to me, only one of them supports the definition. It's like living in a world where gravity is stronger on half the population; where half its inhabitants have rods in the place of cones, swim in air, and breathe seawater for sustenance. We'll never understand each other.

[Image source]

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