The problems in American society are deepening and multiplying. Saturday's New York Times observed, "Feeble Job Numbers Show Recovery Starting to Stall." Today's (Monday's) paper helpfully adds, "Economy Faces a Jolt as Benefit Checks Run Out." That is to say, the economy is NOT reviving, jobs are NOT available for those seeking them, and those now depending on government assistance such as unemployment compensation are about to lose their last means of survival. Meanwhile, the President and congressional leaders are debating how much to cut back government spending and services, out of a belief that all that matters is the deficit: not people, not people going hungry, not people losing their jobs, not people losing their homes. Meanwhile, the wealthiest one percent of Americans are controlling more wealth than every before, and corporations are reporting record profits. Perhaps the wealthy and the corporations, patriotic citizens that they are, could be asked to contribute a bit more to help their fellow countrymen in their hour of need? Of course not--THIS IS AMERICA. Land of the greedy, death to the needy. And make no mistake: cuts in aid to the growing millions of desperate people will mean deaths, deaths from malnutrition, deaths from stress caused by financial anxiety, deaths from inability to pay for medical care, deaths from suicide, deaths from stress-provoked violence, deaths from blazing heat and freezing cold for the homeless, whose ranks are sure to grow, and also deaths from pollution-related illnesses should the Republicans succeed in blocking new regulations on toxic emissions.
It is a cruel and heartless horizon that we are facing. An influential chunk of Americans,including the President, are willing to allow these deaths to happen, rather than raise taxes even one cent on people who have much more wealth than they need. The ridiculous idea that the only way to help people is to pamper the super-wealthy in hopes that they will create good-paying jobs for the less fortunate, the old "trickle-down" theory, has now become sacred gospel among Republicans, despite little proof that it ever has worked, and the counter-evidence of times such as the Eisenhower presidency and the Clinton era that periods of higher taxation and higher government spending are times of greater prosperity. In our current sad state of decline, if government remains set on its current course of cutting back rather than creating jobs, as could be done with a massive, and much-needed, public infrastructure program, we are looking into the maw of a new Dust Bowl.
Obama has really broken my heart and caused me to lose hope for the future of this once-great nation. Instead of "hope and change," he has delivered compromise and cowardice, caving into the anti-government Republicans on almost every occasion. If he would just once FIGHT for something. Well, to be fair, he does fight, but for one thing only: COMPROMISE. He apparently wants to go down in history for two great accomplishments: being the country's first African-American President, and the winner of the "most eager to compromise and appear reasonable" award. And yet, when he came into the office, the country was READY for some bold and forceful leadership. He could have revived a liberal era of active government, but he chose to concentrate on being Mr. Reasonable and Rev. Compromise. I think he is now going to end up Dr. Death, and he will deserve that title if he sticks on his present course. He may manage to be reelected President, but to preside over what, exactly?
I take some weary comfort in the old, old message of many religions, from the Bible to the teachings of the Buddha to the myth of Ragnarok in the Eddas that our human world is essentially hopeless and corrupt, human beings fatally flawed with greed and blindness, more likely to die of gluttony than lift a finger to help others, more enthusiastic about war than anything else. It is a bit of a relief to ponder that the incredible, brain-hurting stupidity and short-sightedness of our current situation is nothing new. It is what the sages, prophets and poets of the past have always warned us against.
To take an example from Norse mythology, when Balder,the most gentle and beloved of the gods was killed, the word went out that if all would weep for him, he would be restored to life. This almost succeeded, as there was nearly universal love for this god, but there was one being who would not grieve, and so Balder was lost forever. There are always those with hardened hearts who justdo not give a damn for others. Many are now employed in our government and on Wall Street, which increasingly seems to be the REAL government of the United States. Presidents are just their errand boys, helping clean up their messes and then letting them get back to their important business of laying off millions and laying up billions.
So what to do? I think the power structure in America is beyond hope. I take refuge in the teachings of most religions of the world that we should practice kindness and compassion, without hope of reward, and understand that the powers of the world are against us. That is to say, the ultimate "Fuck You" is actually "Let me help you, you are my brother." There is nothing else that makes sense in a senseless and mendacious world. Create beauty and compassion where you can, even if no one seems to notice.
The world is wrong, so try to make yourself right.