Sunday, July 14, 2013

"It Is Only We, And Not Me, Who Can Make It Better"

Looking over the current landscape of the United States I am struck by the many different versions of how “things are beginning to look up” for the country, as a whole. The number of new jobs is increasing, the stock market is active and on a positive upswing and the housing market is rebounding. Yet, when I drive around, taking the time and effort to look at what I see, I am struck at how wide the disparity seems to be in these different takes on the situation. I see the poor more disenfranchised. I see the housing market rebounding for those who can afford to buy, but less reasonable rentals available for those who cannot. I see small businesses on the rise with darkened windows and no sign of life. There is a wide disparity between what I hear and what I see.

Another indicator of the dichotomy between what we may want to see vs. what exists in reality is the growing complacency and malaise that seems to be on the increase throughout our society. There seems to be an growing sense of hopelessness. People appear to care less and less about issues that used to incur their ire. There is little or no outrage over a nation that seems to have forgotten the growing numbers of those who find themselves in the backwaters, without jobs that pay a decent wage and without the social safety nets of unemployment insurance, food stamps and other forms of relief that have been the margin of safety for those who look to a caring society in order to help them over the rough spots. There is almost a pervasive notion that, “as long as I have what mine; frankly I don’t care what circumstances you find yourself in.”

I am reminded of the fable of the general who said, “As long as the troops are bitching, I don’t worry. It is when they stop that I do.” As long as people blithely accept their lot in life, without protest, there seems to be no cause for concern. That, also, bothers me.

People on the bottom rungs of the economic and social ladder have been there for a protracted period of time. All indicators are that their place in the pecking order has been on a downward trend for far too long, and it is only getting worse. The system is not working for them. It is working for those who have the most and it is broken for those who have the least. How much longer are we, as a people and as a society going to tolerate this imbalance?

How much longer are we going to continue on the trajectory where we find ourselves before we accept the reality that we have a social, economic and political system that exists for the sole purpose of enhancing the wealth and power of the very few at the expense of the majority? When is the complacency going to become outrage?

The stuff of fairy tales that peddles the myth that “wishing will make it so,” defies the most elementary logic. Like it or not, we have an economic, social and political system that is owned and orchestrated by those who stand to gain the most from the continued exploitation and outright plunder of the least among us.

The criminal behavior of our financial systems, corporate power that exists by authority of the state and the political process that exists by authority of the privileged few have all turned their backs on those they are sworn to serve. They have abandoned the very ones who put them where they are, either directly or by outright collusion among them. The minute the last vote is counted in elections, they begin to focus on the next round and begin to formulate the next agenda for taking care of those who paid them to work on their behalf, all the while summarily ignoring all of those who gave them the position and power to act for the common good. And, they do it without one scintilla of shame or even the meek appearance of doing what they should be doing. They take care of themselves and their cronies at public expense, all the while simply ignoring the seat of power from which their authority came --- the people. Where can you go to look for a better deal than that?

The system is broken. It is not working and there is no serious effort to fix it. The longer it remains broken, the more we pay to have it fixed so it can, in the final analysis, simply work more effectively to disenfranchise the people. How, I ask you, can anyone possibly believe that is a democracy? A better fit is to pitch any faint belief that what we have is a democracy and call it what it is --- an oligarchy. I have to ask myself if that is what the Founding Fathers intended? I am inclined to wonder with the passage of time.

Then, to further complicate things, we have the massive influence of the religious lunatics that profess to have an inside track with “God,” none of which can be empirically proven. They are quoted with a hollow fervor in order to further intimidate those who still place hope and confidence in a system that has totally abandoned them? As my departed Grandfather once opined, “If a man waves a bible in your face, keep your back to the wall.” Not bad advice in these uncertain and perilous times.

I have a growing mistrust of all the new billionaires who now profess to be resident experts in every facet of our existence. Do those whose entire body of knowledge rests in computer science, plus all of the associated gadgets and programs they produce, really acquire, by some form of osmosis, all that it takes to be a true intellectual and a fount of all wisdom for the human race? When do they cease to be technicians and become thinking, rational and compassionate human beings? Aren’t they some of our most adamant supporters of free enterprise and privatization among us? Aren’t they the ones who are advocating the wholesale disembowelment of public services so private contractors can get their hooks on those assets and make, you got it, another mass killing at taxpayers and citizens expense? Look at our system of “privatized” prisons and “privatized” parking meter systems and assess how they work. Look at how the contracts are written to favor them and penalize the taxpayers. Look at how they operate almost free of any meaningful constraints and ask yourself, “How does this benefit the community and how does it benefit me, the taxpayer?” Those, folks, do not require the mental faculties of a rocket scientist. All it takes is a modicum of common sense. At the end of the day, these people are focused on one thing and that is how to make as much money as possible, with the least amount of personal investment and a minimal investment in the human equation.  A major fall out from all of this is a massive number of humanoids that is soul dead. Nobody is home.

As long as we remain complacent and paralyzed about doing something meaningful to turn this tragic situation around, it simply isn’t going to get better; it is only going to get worse. Until there is a genuine effort made to conduct a complete audit of our system of government and how effectively it is working for the people now, it will only continue to be paralyzed by chaos. You can’t get from point “A” to point “B” without a road map to guide you. Flying by the seat of our pants isn’t going to get us there. The rule of law must be our bedrock; the will of the people must be the principle that guides us and complete transparency must be the perspective from which we view and evaluate it.

From my perspective on a government that is supposed to be serving us at this point in time:

  • The Executive Branch is broken.
  • The Legislative Branch is broken.
  • The Judicial Branch is broken.
  • The Press serves power; not the people.
It is time to put the Ship of State in dry dock, make it seaworthy once again, set our national compass on a course that will serve the people, and become a beacon to the rest of the world that it is not rooted in war, but peace, that makes us great. Foremost, however, it is basic human decency among equals that gives us purpose.

At the end of the day, respect can only be earned; it can never be commanded. Collegial relationships are what make it flourish, not fear.

It is time to think in terms of “we” and not “me.”

Cowboy Bob
aka The Sagebrush Philosopher
July 14, 2013