Saturday, February 05, 2011

All Downhill from Here

Canadian man finds bag
of 216 used panties, wants
the owner to claim them.

It is, I fear, going to be all downhill from here for the United States. I realize this is pessimistic but it is not really my intention to be pessimistic, just realistic. We have, to put it crudely, “just fucked it up” in virtually every way imaginable. Finding ourselves in a virtual paradise our greed won out over common sense and decency and we stopped at nothing, not even genocide, to take it over. We killed the billions of passenger pigeons, almost killed all of the buffalo, overcut the forests, damned the rivers, virtually destroyed the salmon runs and other fisheries, decimated the whales and the fur seals, and in more recent years fouled the air and the water, and have helped to create global warming, a condition that actually threatens our very existence. This is still being denied by some to the extent that nothing much can be done about it. Of course sitting on a small planet rapidly sucking up its oil and scraping its mountains of coal and other diminishing resources is, on a much grander scale, rather like sawing off the branch you are sitting on.

Of course the above was just for starters, having now fouled our own nest, we have now attempted to take over management of the rest of the world, for our benefit, of course, and now even our “empire” is threatened. It seems pretty clear the “American Century” is over and we are slowly going to lose control of the Middle East and other areas of the globe as well. South America has announced their independence, Egypt, and other Middle Eastern nations are in the process of doing the same. It is being said that America’s voice is no longer being heeded around the globe as it once was (even our last President is afraid to travel to Switzerland for fear of being prosecuted for war crimes). From being the greatest nation on earth we have mortgaged our future through incessant warfare and foolishness until we have become just another debtor nation. “The handwriting is on the wall,” “The chickens are coming home to roost,” our greed and hypocrisy is being exposed for all to see, our reputation is irrevocably damaged. As I speak we are already in the process of fouling even outer space.

Not only have we fouled our own nest through greed and negligence, we have never been able to get along with others. Ours is a history of violence, wars and killings beyond measure, masked by a pretence of “spreading democracy,” but in fact nothing short of predatory greed that has allowed us a higher standard of living than most others “because we could.” This is, I believe, now coming to an end. Our standard of living has been decreasing (except, of course, for the few who have managed to corner the market on greed and avarice), high unemployment is probably here to stay (unless some drastic changes are made in our economic system), and it is difficult to see how things are going to “turn up” rather than just continuing down. What is happening in Egypt and other nations in the Middle East has been predictable for years, dictatorships, or other governments, where a very few control most all of the wealth and the masses live in poverty, do not survive forever. If you think it can’t happen here you will be most likely wrong, although our means of bringing about change may not be so dramatic. There are growing signs of such change already.

Related to my previous blog, and relevant here, is the problem of just who can say “no” to behaviors that are detrimental to our well-being. In theory at least, the ultimate authority of our affairs is vested in the people. It is only the people that can say no to politicians and others who embark on endeavors that are not in the public interest. One can well argue this is the main virtue of our (at least supposedly) democratic society, but it also constitutes a problem in that even when in works it is far too slow. For example, by the time we agree on global warming as a problem it will very likely be too late. This has happened over and over again in our history. There were voices that warned against damming the rivers without regard for the salmon but they went most unheeded until it was too late (we are now making rather feeble attempts to restore some of our rivers). There were those who wanted to exercise more restraint in destroying our forests, they, too, often went unheeded (we are only now seriously trying to regenerate our forests). There are voices now warning about global warming but there is as yet no agreement on the problem let alone the urgency of taking action. Having destroyed thousands of species (we actually have no idea how many) we are belatedly trying to save a few (even some with but a very few surviving members). At the very moment we are producing billions of plastic containers every year we are being told to take our own bags to the supermarket (you can’t get much more pathetic than that). Our history is one case after another of “shoot first, ask questions later.” We continue this even now, putting drugs on the market before they have been adequately tested, planting genetically modified crops before we have sufficient knowledge about them, plunging into unnecessary “wars” without even knowing much of anything about the “enemy,” and so on, and on, and on. We have behaved like greedy children with no impulse control, and also like children, we have not always heeded the advice of others who might know better. Our arrogance and chutzpah seem to know no bounds.

I suppose one could argue for a bright side to all this. The demise of empire and the exposure of truth about our hypocrisy could potentially be a good thing. Perhaps having made our childish and adolescent mistakes, and being now severely reprimanded, might allow us to grow up to be better citizens. Giving up empire might even mean we can take care of our own country better, improve our educational system, improve our infrastructure, improve our health care, take care of all our people instead of the few, settle down into a sustainable environment rather than a culture of obsolescence and waste, slow down global warming (maybe even save the Polar Bears). Perhaps we may even recall what it means to “share.” Maybe, just maybe, we might do these things, if, indeed, it is not already too late.

Television has raised writing to a new low.
Samuel Goldwyn

Cockfighting has been dated to 2000 B.C. in the Indus Valley.

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