Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Could we please start over?

Woman throws cell phone
at boyfriends face, her
small dog at police officers.

Do you think that, like, maybe, we could start over? That is, we have somehow destroyed our country and, not content with that, seem to be embarked on destroying the world. I am not enough of a historian, or political scientist, or economist, or whatever, to truly understand how all this came about or how it is we have arrived at such a precarious position. And when it comes to starting over, I don’t know exactly from which point in our history we should attempt to start over. What I do know is that we have failed dismally as a nation. I don’t know the details of this but I do know that it somehow has to do with Ronald Reagan (aka Saint Ronnie) and his attack on government. It also has to do with “privatization,” “globalization,” a “free market economy,” and the creation and growth of corporations that are now more wealthy and important than governments (indeed, in our particular case, for all intents and purposes they are the government).

Along the way on our trip to oblivion we have polluted our environment something terrible, destroyed our fisheries, fouled our rivers and streams, removed mountaintops, raped our forests, changed our climate, failed to look after the welfare of our citizens, killed millions of people in totally unnecessary “wars,” destroyed our currency to the point where no one wants it any longer, and are poised on the brink of bankruptcy if not, in fact, bankrupt. As I do not believe this was the original intention of those pioneer spirits that arrived here full of hope and worked so hard to establish our nation, somewhere along the way we went wrong.

Some of our mistakes, I believe, have to do with allowing automobiles and trucks to take precedence over railroads and public transportation in general. The internal combustion engine was, from a purely human standpoint, a terrible invention, and has contributed much to the destruction of the environment. Corporate agriculture, too, was a mistake. We have allowed huge corporations to take over the production of food and have thus changed the very nature of the foods we consume. This has also contributed to our real problem of unemployment as one or two men with modern equipment can do the work of dozens. Now with corporate control of the food supply, and genetic engineering of crops, a process we do not really understand, there is no telling where it might lead. The pharmaceutical industry has grown apace and provides new drugs daily, all for a profit. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from some rare affliction you probably will not find a drug for it as there is no profit in producing drugs just to help people. A few insurance giants have taken over our health care system, generating enormous profits from doing absolutely nothing but paperwork. Banking giants control our monetary system and are allowed to systematically rob us in ways that are regarded, strangely enough, as “legal.” Enormous oil and coal corporations have prevented us from making progress against global warming and against even producing “clean” energy. Failing to heed the warning of President Eisenhower, we have stood by idly while a gigantic military/industrial/political complex has taken over most of our annual budget and hence is now the backbone of our economy. We produce bombs and other means of killing as many people as possible rather than useful products for human welfare. Our current military budget is greater than all the rest of the world combined and growing. Failing to follow the advice of our founding fathers we have meddled throughout the world in the affairs of others and now have military bases all over the world, many for very questionable reasons. We have become a nation of warmongers.

We allowed Bush/Cheney to lie us into a completely unnecessary “war” that has decimated our economy and our military, and made us a pariah in the world community. We are locked into a “war” in Afghanistan that we know can only result in failure and yet we cannot bring ourselves to end it. We have spent billions on an absurd “war on drugs” that has been a complete failure for years but continues year after year. We have shamefully neglected our infrastructure to the point where our bridges and schools are unsafe and our public buildings are deteriorating. Our educational system has failed to keep up with the rest of the world so that our children, if they don’t just drop out, end up believing in fairly tales so absurd as to make them effectively useless citizens. Science, too, has been neglected, and we have fallen further behind for many years when it comes to math, physics, and all the physical and biological sciences. The arts have not fared any better. We have now reached the point where government no longer has anything to do with serving the public and everything to do with doing the bidding of a small number of corporate masters who now even effectively control our news media and feed us only what they want us to hear.

We are a failure as a nation, and this failing continues under our attempt to maintain a “capitialistic,” free-market economy that has proven to be a disaster. We seem helpless to change it. Obviously we cannot start over, but we could come to our senses, withdraw from our two failed “wars,” do away with the ridiculous “war on drugs,” tell the insurance companies to get lost (no one would miss them as they do absolutely nothing for health care), shape up the banking industry so they can no longer just rob us blind, and do away with the more obscene discrepancy between those who have and those who have not, including health care. We could probably become solvent again. Will we do any of these things? Probably not, unless we get the big money entirely out of politics, and especially the news industry. The future, in my opinion, looks dismal.

Mighty hard to tell the people you love you’re a failure.
Laura Moncur

Buttonholes first appeared in Germany in the 13th century.

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