Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Are We There Yet?

Man who wants a bread roll
instead of a slice of bread
gets slapped with a raw steak.

Are we there yet? This is a common enough question in some quarters, especially on long automobile trips. But, you might well ask in the context of our current sociopolitical travails, just where is “there.” There is little doubt in my mind that we are on our way “there,” wherever “there” is exactly. Consider our current situation. First, we have a “war” in Afghanistan that no one seems to understand very well. That is, just why we are there is not clear. What is clear is that this is almost certainly not a necessary “war” and is going to be very expensive for a very long time (in spite of claims to the contrary). In terms of our economy this could very well be the “war” that breaks the camel’s economic back. We are near bankruptcy, in debt up to our eyeballs, and no end in sight. But still we persist in this seeming rush to “there” (victory, defeat, or whatever), with little or no regard for the cost. Ironically enough, this “war” is being pushed an accelerated by what we believed was a “peace” President.

Then consider our attempt to create a system of health care that, if successful, would put us at least somewhat on a par with all other industrialized nations. This attempt is failing miserably. Our “leaders” have sold us out to their masters in the Insurance and Pharmaceutical industries. After months of apparently “good faith” efforts on the part of a few, what we have at the moment, it seems, with respect to being “there,” is a plan that would rid the Insurance companies of older people (55 years and up) that are the most likely to need expensive health care, while at the same time forcing all those younger than that to take out health insurance or be fined for not doing so, thus adding some 30 million or so more suckers for the Insurance giants to fleece. A few of those involved in these negotiations seem to believe that by lowering the Medicare eligible age to 55 we are at least “getting our nose under the tent.” But, you may wonder, why discriminate against those who are younger than 55? Why not lower the age to 45, or even 35, or even make it available to everyone? That would then constitute genuine health care reform that would be simple and efficient and include everyone. Well, because to go “there” would cost the Insurance companies money and of course we couldn’t have that. Why should they not receive huge profits for doing nothing but shuffling papers and scheming for new ways to rip people off?

Of course the banks are doing well. Banks always do well. Our banks do very well indeed because they are concerned only with making money for themselves at the expense of the general public. So while our “leaders” have made sure the banks are not suffering, they have done so at the expense of the public. Our citizens are losing their jobs, their homes, their pensions and life savings, but the banks are booming. They are colluding with other huge corporations to reduce our country to a situation roughly approximating the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, where there is a superabundance of serfs and peasants to do the simple tasks of cleaning latrines and sweeping floors and other services, while the real jobs have been shipped overseas to places where labor is even cheaper. The “stimulus plan” has certainly stimulated the banks and the ultra-wealthy, but left everyone else far behind, sinking into a morass of poverty and misery not of their own doing.

Gobal warming, probably the greatest threat to the human species ever, although agreed upon by all reputable scientists, is considered nothing but a nuisance by the corporations that make their money by creating it. There is to be a meeting in Copenhagen of most of the powers that be (and I guess a few others) to discuss this truly dangerous change in climate. The best guess is the best that will come of this meeting is to delay any meaningful action until the next meeting. In the modern age this seems to be the only real function of meetings.

Our current situation, dire as it is, is the direct result of what is called “free market capitalism.” What this really means is something like “the law of the jungle,” whereby the strong take from the weak with no regard for human health or welfare, and short term profits are the “there” we are striving for. This is a system that promotes human greed to an exalted status and has no respect for those who might not be entirely sympathetic to this cannibalistic culture. This system, having failed completely and plunged us into a deep recession with real unemployment probably hovering around 20% is still regarded by some (mostly Republicans) as “the way to go.” We could, as many very successful countries have, go to a system of Democratic Socialism, except that our citizens for the most part have been conditioned to view the term “socialism” as roughly equivalent to cyanide poisoning, and, as most of them have no idea of what this is all about, simply accept capitalism as “the best system on earth” (in spite of what they see with their own eyes, and experience with their own emotions). The capitalists have done a fine job in bringing this about and are determined to keep it going until they have squeezed out the last drop of capital and self-esteem from a completely devastated, ignorant, and largely helpless population.

While all this is going on, and our President is (at least presumably) trying to make things at least a bit better for us, there are those who have nothing but contempt for him (he’s not all white, you know). Sarah Palin, a women who lacks the brains of a horses’s ass, but has the chutzpah of an old time snake-oil salesman, is touring the country hawking her book of whines and lies to an adoring public who seem to think she is worthy of even the highest position in the world (this is frightening almost beyond belief). If this is not bad enough, there is a small group of people who are trying to promote Dick (the Slimy) Cheney for President. As Cheney has all the popularity of leprosy you might wonder where these people have been for the last few years. They are, of course, among those who have been “there” for the past few years, living off the sweat of your brow, your equity, and savings. Oh, I mustn’t omit the obligatory obeisance to the Mighty Malevolence himself, God Bless America.

If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever.
Woody Allen

Tai Chi, although it appears innocent enough, is actually a martial art.

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