Posts Tagged ‘class warfare’

It’s just remarkable. Really incredible. I remember 2002 as the year nearly every politician and pundit in America insisted America could change the world. We could end terrorism and build nations. Anyone with a brain or a moral code knew this sounded good but was utter bullshit, of course. You can’t just decide to end terrorism and create democracies whenever you feel like it. And of course, we didn’t.

But my point is, people thought we could. Our government probably didn’t think we could (though some of them are rather daft), but it sure knew there was money to be made by telling people we could. Our mass media knew it could increase ratings, not by going into the nitty gritty politics of invasion or by criticizing these mad men, but by waving the flag in the background and having breaking news stories every half hour about our glorious F-22s and how our military which would sweep into Iraq and bring down a statue and people would party in the street. Pictures of soldiers coming home in caskets, no. Pictures of eerie night bombs, yes. Throughout 2002 and 2003, we were the Nation Which Could. Mission Accomplished. We set out to do, and we sure did.

I don’t know what upsets me more, the dishonesty of our media and politicians, the greed of the corporations behind them, or the desire on the part of many in our country to believe such faulty immoral and basically stupid narratives.

The Nation That Could Do Things (though it didn’t know much about what exactly it did: glance at flag-waving, watch American Idol (don’t forget to vote!), eat red meat,  take the SUV to the mall and then the fundamentalist church where we can pat ourselves on the back) now is the Nation Which Cannot (what gross stereotypes, I know. I’d feel bad, but what with all the dead people in the Middle East I’m not feeling too guilty over reducing the assholes who were okay with it to ugly caricatures).

Global warming… but it’s so tough, and maybe it’s not even real! We can’t mess with American jobs. Outsource, yes. But accept emissions limitations? No. Could we define this as a classic moment of American ingenuity, one of those times where we meet an obstacle and put all of our energies into finding a way to meet it, to keep and create jobs while dealing with the environmental challenges we face? We could. But we are the Nation Which Cannot. So we won’t.

Goldman Sachs is a pariah. Wall Street is a monstrosity. We have an economic system where people celebrate growth of the GDP, and aren’t interested in growing unemployment. We gave trillions of dollars to the banks which created the crisis, and who prefer to dole out bonuses rather than re-hire employees or help out people who may lose their home. We have people defaulting on their mortgages because the banks allowed people to take loans who probably shouldn’t have received them, but who now are stuck in a tight place with no one interested in helping them. But we’re not going to bail out the victims of the banks. We like to bail out the perpetrators. We can do that!

What state illustrates these problems better than California? So much has been written on the problems of their initiative system and the long-term financial issues caused by millionaires who have nightmares of taxes on the sheets their maids clean. I won’t kid myself and pretend I have much to say on the problems of governing California that other people are far better informed about. What I can say is this. Arnold Schwarzenegger slashed the funding for domestic violence shelters by eighty fucking percent? 80 goddamn percent? What the fuck? Is it wrong to call another a human being a breathing piece of shit? 80 million dollars gone for child welfare services? Let me say that again. HE SLASHED 80 MILLION DOLLARS FOR CHILDREN’S WELFARE. Asshole Arnold also cut all state funding for community health clinic programs. He cut funding to HIV prevention programs. You can read the whole list here.

This is more than just ordinary bad politics. It goes beyond ineptitude and our ho-hum, we-just-can’t-do-health-reform-or-cut-carbon-dioxide-emissions attitude. This is fucking class warfare. Class warfare of the rich on the poor, of the powerful against the weak. Milton Friedman’s belief in free markets and nearly non-existent government was just what the rich of the world needed. Social Darwinism (more often politely and vaguely mentioned as some sort of pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstrap/self-made shit) and materialism were excellent philosophies for the greedy selfish elites. They’ve always wanted unrestrained power without being hindered by social responsibility. They don’t want to help other people up, because they depend on an underclass. They don’t want to feel guilty about the poor, they just want to take what they can while they can get it. They need domestic workers to take care of their children and their houses because they have better things to do. They need people to work at restaurants so they can eat out. They need other people to grow their food, they need other people to make their clothes. They need people to work on their yachts and sit behind the service desk. They need a world of people providing service to them. We could have a less disparate society, but that might mean the people at the very top have a bit less. Less billions in their trust funds, less money in their stock portfolios. Unfortunately, their mindset is that of a self-destructive sociopath. They avoided ever being overthrown (and being a non-violent person, I like to convince people to change their mind rather than point a weapon at them, so I think that’s a good thing), and now they’re slowly destroying the most basic restrictions put on their games. But their lifestyle is straining the planet, and the Earth can’t be ignored.

But their insatiable greed is just shocking, and the hypocritical way they play around with the “can-do” myth of America is disgusting. When it suits the wealthy, for example, by creating small wars which provide the opportunity to dole out government contracts and make billions of dollars, We Can Do It! When it comes to a bail-out for big business, We Can Do It! When it’s time to fund the Pentagon, forget about the budget or health care. We Can Do It! But when it comes to providing shelters for battered women, We Really Can’t. When it’s time to make sure children have enough to eat, We Just Can’t. When millions of people live without health care, We Can’t Do Anything because what about the Insurance Companies? Department of War, yes. Department of Peace, that’s too far-fetched.

We have an intensely hierarchical society. It just doesn’t bear the old names found in the fairy tales of King, Duke, Jester, Baron, or Peasant. But this is very much a country where the rich take from the poor, and the poor are expected to serve at their banquet. Not much has changed. A Hundred Years War over the land rights of kings? Yes, they could. Nation-building in the Middle East? Yes, we can. Protection from brigands? No, they ask too much. Protection from the insurance companies? We ask too much. At least they had Days of Truce in their time. Our laborers work seven days a week and multiple jobs to feed their children, and we want to arrest them and deport them. Folly and greed: What We Can, and Do, Do Best.

*On a personal note, something happened while writing this post which proved me to be a fine example of ineptitude myself. My family and I are staying at a cottage in Cape Cod which could only be called “rustic.” Something has been eating our fruit at night, and while sitting on the couch typing I saw the tail end of what looked like an enormous rat crawl behind the couch where my mother was reading. I slowly put the computer down on the ground and stood up on the couch I’d been sitting on while pointing and gasping “Oh holy shit.” Mom, being quite a can-do sort of person, asked me what it looked like and I babbled something about a long pink tail. She decided it was a possum, put on some oven mitts, and brought over some blueberries to lure it out. Then she started cooing “Here, possy, possy, you poor thing. Don’t worry, we’re Yankees, we won’t put you in a Brunswick stew. I’m just going to scoop you up and put you outside to eat some apples.” She then would smile at me and tell me how cute it’s little face was whenever it peeked out (it wasn’t so cute when it snarled at her as she tried to get it out from the couch). Adorable or not, fast-moving silent rodents two feet from my bed are not my sort of thing. Just as, perhaps, for Max Baucus, health reform is not his kind of thing. Though in my defense, health reform does not have a long hairless pink tail and does not move quite so quickly (as we’ve seen). Plus, I didn’t scream.


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