We’ve been had. All of us. Every facet of American life has been corrupted. Even those who took advantage of the holes in the system to acquire wealth and power have discovered that wealth and power do not feed their souls. So, like cocaine addicts, they keep chasing that first high, and it never comes. They bought in, and they rage when someone points out the emptiness of their endeavor.
I was a victim of Madison Ave’s influence, early on I thought the acquisition of things was a worthy pursuit during my time here on this rock. I did not think what I was chasing was unreasonable, I wanted the nice house, the sexy car, maybe a nice suit to wear to work. It took decades for me to understand that, globally speaking, those were extravagant goals. I’m not prone to feelings of guilt, at least not to the extent that I will let past personal failures define who I am. That said, it is difficult sometimes to allow myself to enjoy the finer (material) things in life, especially knowing that roughly twenty percent of the people on the planet lack clean drinking water. I suppose that makes me a bleeding heart Librul.
Alternatively, perhaps, I am someone who really wants our system to work, both to protect what I have managed to accumulate and to make sure others have the opportunity to do the same. The American dream is still in it’s infancy, historically speaking, but my fear is that for too many of us, it is the ultimate empty promise, something we chase because we are supposed to, but one that leaves us unsure if we’ve actually achieved it.
It may well be that the post WWII era set the standard too high from the jump. There was a big push toward infrastructure. and we got world class dams and highways. We wanted to provide opportunity to our returning Veterans, so the emphasis was affordable housing and the G.I. Bill. We were still an industrial economy, and job stability was a given, as was a pension plan that would reward a lifetime of work with some measure of security. With the exception of the G.I. Bill (which is not the same as it was but still exists) those things are gone. Let that sink in. They are gone. No one is building affordable housing. Before some of you point out that “affordable” is a relative term….I think we can safely assume that new construction in our little boom town consists primarily of luxury condos and custom homes. Most working people will not be buying either of them. Pension plans are few and far between, replaced by a system so corrupt, so rigged, that few Americans will ever be able to count on their participation in one to provide a secure and dignified retirement. Ask the people who worked at Enron how stock options worked out for them. Even Social Security is beginning to look like yet another empty promise, which brings me back to this…..
We’ve been had. All of us. To some degree, we have all bought in to some form of tribalism or another. We are being encouraged to do so by those who want to loot our treasury while we clobber each other for any number of ginned up differences, racial, gender, economic class, the list is way too exhaustive to try and list. When a large enough group finds some collective mindset and decides to reshape or improve our system of government or the economy, it becomes a target for those with a stake in maintaining the status quo, and they are ruthless about it.
We used to value the journalists among us who’s job it was to shine a light on corruption or ask the questions that needed to be asked for all of us. What we have now is largely a media consisting of one dimensional shills for one group or another. Others within it are too worried about protecting their gig to truly report what is being done to us by the rich and powerful. Sure, there are exceptions, I really admire the people at Vice news for at least taking a stab at reporting real issues and legitimately compelling stories. There are still old school editors and free-lance journalists among us who look for the truth and report it, sometimes at great personal risk.
Today, I don’t have answers for these problems. Even if legit answers are offered by people smarter than me, they will likely be drowned out in this sea of noise we’ve paddle around in every day. All I know is, I do not want to be part of the problem. I do not want to buy into this tribalism, it is the thing that is being foisted upon us much like leisure suits were in the 70’s. Yes, I have real trouble with those on the Far Right, but no more than I do with the Purity Posse of the left. So, I don’t plan to deal with extremists of any kind. Rather, I intend to engage with anyone who seeks to find common ground with me, as I believe our failure to do that will bring about the end of our once great Nation. We can hammer out the details after I’ve learned you’re not a Nazi in disguise, and you have learned that I am not a baby killer. Let’s start there
*And, my beard has indeed grown longer overnight. Bonus points if anyone can tell me where I am in the pic.