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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Sky is Falling-- or not-- or yes or....

 Most people, who are interested in the economic situation of our country and who can think beyond 9-9-9, have been reading the recent economic statistics indicating the growth of poverty and extreme wealth with the diminishing of the middle classes.The questions have to be asked-- what can we do about it; and if there is something, should we do it?

What we should also ask-- is this a time of change as earth has seen since its beginning not only in geology but human history? Is it a natural occurrence or is it manipulated; and if manipulated, can we stand up against it?

If you, like us, were pretty major donors to the Democratic party and various Democratic candidates (or if you were on the other side and likewise donating to the causes in which you believed), you are probably getting the same kinds of phone calls we are getting to ask if we can do it again. They always start with some variation of the sky is falling.

Now our personal situation has changed economically since the last time we had an election, but we do plan to donate. I told the caller yesterday that it would not, however, be to the Democratic party. He was then questioning as to why. I said we will be choosing individual candidates and donate directly to them as well as those who have not run before but do have the agenda in which we believe.

He then asked-- don't you like your own senators? Well we like one but not the other. The one we don't like already got in because the Democratic party ran nobody of consequence against him. That could happen with a lot of these offices and we end up with those who won't then work for progressive principles and sometimes, even though they are Democrats, I wonder who the heck they are working for as it doesn't appear to be the causes in which I believe. From us, nobody gets donations this go round who doesn't support those things we think are important like single payer health insurance.

Nobody should blame Obama for not doing what they wanted if they have not worked to get people in the House and Senate who will also support those issues. That is what the Republican party found  the Tea Party bunch decided and with that viewpoint, they took over the House. What those Tea Party types want to do is an abomination to me; and it has galvanized me to think we, who believe in progressive causes, have to think outside the box and be supporting those who have come from outside the party structure-- unless our guys/gals inside have track records to show it's more than talk.

If this OWS bunch is to have any longevity, it's what it'll have to do-- run for office and support those in their group who do. Otherwise it's only leading toward obstructionism  and anarchy with the kind of logic that leads Republicans to believe tax cuts will yield manna from heaven. I don't see the evidence for either. Take over government or keep having your nose ground into the dirt.

Now there is just a possibility that we cannot turn it around. If you look at earth and human history, change is inherent in it. The longest we can really look back on human history is around 10,000 years-- in earth's time a drop in the proverbial bucket.

So is the sky really falling? If we base our answer on the history of the United States, which only goes back a few hundred years, we would have to admit we have no clue. Have our recent choices for government been sustainable?  Are we willing to pay for the things in which we claim to believe? How about actually work for them? Oh, that all sound soooo hard.

Today we have a world population that has just claimed the seven billionth person-- living on a planet that has a hard time supporting that many people  (certainly not as the so-called advanced world has been accustomed). Things will not stay as they have been and that's a given if you look at human history.

Because it impacts me the greatest, I am most concerned with what America has experienced and what it faces. People my age were born into a time of affluence-- especially if you look at what human history has known. I, who was born in 1943, was born when people didn't possess so much but rapidly came into that period where almost everybody had more than they ever expected. Old people, who once would have faced either poverty or been forced into their children's home, assuming they had children, could know independence with a pension that provided their basic needs.

I've seen changes in what the average person expected to have in their home like central heating, never mind even imagining central air conditioning. There was no television in the average home when I was born and radio was our main form of entertainment. My parents had known a time when that wasn't there, and on it went with changes coming fast particularly where it comes to communication.

When I was a child, there weren't so many high earning jobs for everyone, but it was not a problem to put a chicken in every pot (my parents remembered times that was not true). In my growing up years, there weren't as many things to buy, but a pretty good education was possible for anybody. Higher education was affordable and not only for the middle class but lower economic classes without big loans or government grants.

During those years, education was being subsidized through government by a culture that believed in education as a way to success not only for the individual but for the society. Trade schools and trade guilds taught young people skills needed for other kinds of jobs.

Frankly I have called it a golden time and it economically it was. Movie stars, sports heroes, and corporate CEOs earned a lot of money, but it wasn't anywhere near the sums they get today but then the dollar wasn't worth the same either-- it was worth a lot more. CEOs were also more respected as the ones who made companies work. Investments were something to be proud of making, not considered part of greed. Now that's not to say everybody could afford to make such but it wasn't considered crooked if someone did.  Americans had gone through the Great Depressions, understood the risk of investing but also the benefits.

People were not inherently better back then. Human nature simply is what it is and that means some good guys and some not so good-- in every economic, social and yes, religious group. Right now Wall Street is not made up of all evil people despite what some want to think. It's made up of people where regulations were pulled out and you saw the same thing you see in any unregulated group of people-- those who will take advantage of freedom for their own gain regardless of its morality or concern for the overall good.

When humans can be convinced either that no government is good or that government is the solution to all problems, they are on their way to trouble. In reality some will not cheat others even if they can, and some spend all their time trying to figure out how to cheat others.

With transitions comes the ability to move things around. In the case of our country, government did more than remove regulations, it actually began to encourage the practices that sent jobs overseas. Corporations saw profit as primary over any other standards short of not being arrested.

I have heard a quote saying-- paraphrasing here-- that all it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing. If you only pay attention to what profits you, the end result is it makes it easier for corruption to occur. If you ignore what is going on with your government, the wrong people will end up running it-- and this is in either current political party in the United States. It's about human nature-- all you have to see is the rise of Newt Gingrich once again to prove it.

Government, which is the collective us, became the bad guy to a lot of people who actually need it to be there. If you think you don't, tell me who regulates the safety of your food when you cannot buy it from the local farmer? Who makes sure the freeways are built to standards that will insure they don't collapse or maintains them as they get old? Who keeps the airways safe? How do you take care of those who would threaten you? Starvation is really okay for 'other' people? How about your own money in a bank-- who keeps it from collapsing or if it does, guarantees your deposits? Who makes sure that an education means an education and not a lot of propaganda with a degree handed out at the end? Who makes sure that another large group of people don't arrive and take over your land such as happened to America's earlier citizens?

The idea that we are rugged individualists and don't need to have a government is rubbish and only bought into by those who prefer simple answers to all problems. Oh how they are selling the power of the rugged individualist today to convince people that they don't need a strong, functioning and honorable government, and they are doing it because it serves an agenda. This isn't just the right wing but part of the left also if you look at what they actually are doing and what is happening. The following article is well worth reading to try and grasp this with charts and directions.

So we have a problem if we believe in an America that has opportunity for everyone. Anybody, who goes further than their own lives and looks at the whole, can obviously see we have a problem. Oh we can live in our bubble for awhile but if we care about our grandchildren, about this country's future, it's apparent that things are changing in a way that doesn't help what has been known as the middle class and is now called the disappearing middle class. The question is what to do about it and that's where the arguments start and range between the extremes of revolution to doing nothing.

Because of our technology being so advanced where it comes to communication (even if what is communicated might be shallower and shallower), the ability to spread disinformation is immense. It can be spread to frighten us or get us to do things that won't help but will have us thinking we are part of the solution-- except those things are getting us exactly where?  The powers, that would rule, love to confuse us as it makes their job easier. Get you out there wearing a flag pin and block thinking about the fact that you don't do anything for say returning veterans in terms of health care or jobs, and their obfuscation is successful. Subterfuge and emotional manipulation doesn't just happen on one side.

Since this blog is primarily intended to be about personal and cultural issues, I won't go into partisanship in this (I save that for Rainy Day Things); but I do have some thoughts on what we can do that don't involve blasting the right or left nor does it involve giving up or destroying our existing system.  There are a lot of such ideas out there for things we can do.

We are not helpless. We are not necessarily done as a people even if we might have to change some of our ways. There are NOT simple answers and I go nuts when I hear the left and right trying to convince us that there are. BUT we can take back our democracy from the corporate and big money interests (which is actually better for them also as rampant corruption is not actually good for anyone), can make the existing party system cater to our ideas, not us to theirs. We can do that if we are willing to be informed on what is possible and the costs of various actions.

The main thing is to not get caught up in the hyperbole that is rampant on both sides of this. That just has us running around claiming the sky is falling and potentially damaging any chance we can actually take effective action.

Top photo-- sky in Big Hole Valley in Montana. The second-- John Day fossil beds a reminder that earth changes. We have to be adaptive if we don't want to be left behind. Sometimes we welcome change. Sometimes not so much.


Tabor said...

Amen and Hear Hear!

Unknown said...

A few years ago the free world was celebrating the fall of communism. What we are experiencing now may be the fall of capitalism. Things are changing and there is no way to predict how it will turn out. The era in which you and I grew up, as I've said before, was an historic anomaly. A time of such potential for so many people had not been seen before and may never be seen again. Great Britain, France, Spain, Germany; they all have taken their turn as major world powers but each faded due to changing economic conditions, war, political upheaval, etc. I'm not sure things can be turned around. Each politician claims he or she has the solution but to climb out from under these harsh economic times will require austerity not only from the working classes but from the wealthy too. I'm not sure the American people are willing to do what it takes to save us. The politicians are certainly not. After all, they are part of the 1%. As John Kenneth Galbraith said, "The people of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage". The 1990's were a lost decade for the Japanese. We may be headed toward a lost generation.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh My Dear Rain...This Is GREAT! You are so articulate and everything you say is understandable and---to my way of thinking---correct!!
It is all pretty overwhelming, especially if one has personal problems that take over everything...But...I dearly appreciate your clear and true voice, and I hope and pray you will keep 'telling it like it is'....WE NEED THAT AND YOU!

I hope you and Farm Boss and your dear Family have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Dick said...

As another born in 1943 I will agree with you and Wally that we had a rather magical time to grow up in. Even the duck & cover for A-bomb drills were kind of interesting and of course never amounted to more than a drill.

I think we need to replace most of the current crop of politicians and I'd like to see term limits placed on Congress. But we don't have the opportunity to have Federal level Initiatives from the People so are dependent on our Senators & Representatives to do what is best for us and our country. They seem more interested in doing what will get them re-elected.

I think a big part of the Wall Street problem is that while the people there have embraced new technology they have not updated the rules to handle some of the newer things that technology has brought into play. It is very hard for the small investor to compete with a super computer that can place many trades a minute while observing and analyzing in real time just what is going on with stock prices. So the rich continue to get richer.

Anonymous said...

Will someone please explain to me why we need to encamp 2400 military personnel in Australia?