Friday, February 25, 2011

The unanswered question

The United States of the early 1960's for many my age and younger could almost be considered ancient history. I dimly remember certain aspects of the latter part of that decade like the debates over school integration, the continuing fight for civil rights, Vietnam, and the Apollo missions but overall the scope of social change and technical advancement since then has altered America in ways that would be considered science fiction to someone of that era suddenly brought to 2011.

It’s understandable that opinions differ greatly on the benefits and disadvantages these changes and advancements have brought but on average, I'd have to say they have been more of a blessing. While still very imperfect, we are a far more open and accepting society now and the progress in medical technology alone allows many to overcome conditions and have normal lives that in the 1960's would have been an automatic death sentence.

However, in some ways we have declined since then, we are a far more self-centered and bickering bunch devoted to our own agendas and more than ready to condemn anyone in this country and around the world not holding our exact viewpoint. Maybe this is the price every world power has to pay after years of near global dominance, a slow decent into madness concealed behind a thin veneer of pride and arrogance. It would be a mistake to believe that the United States was ever in reality "that shining city on the hill", our history is replete with examples of tyranny and oppression but for most of that time we have endeavored to move closer to that ideal.

Ignoring certain moral lapses and mistakes John Kennedy was a great president that energized the nation for the challenges it faced in the latter half of the 20th century. His youth, energy, and ideals called to our better side paving the way for much of the advancements we see now. Despite his faults Kennedy was a man of words who could see beyond the limits of the here and now pushing us to be something more and better. My favorite quote of his calling for Americans to pull together rings true even now: "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." Unfortunately, I see little evidence of that spirit in our society and if there ever was a time every American needed to rally together it is the sad age we live now.

Decades of overindulgence in government, corporate, and private circles have eaten away at the financial foundation of the country. This problem has been known for many years but the financial wizards in charge of managing the life blood of capital to our economy and checking its health have instead been playing destructive games with other people’s money. For the corporate masters it’s been better for the bottom line to export manufacturing jobs and import cheap goods that the cattle-like American people sell their souls for by maxing out their credit cards.

Politicians secure near perfect job security by promising everything to everyone all at the same time, all they have to do keep the bread and circuses going so only a few notice how bad things are falling apart. Instead of showing leadership they fall over each other gnashing their teeth about deficit spending but easily vote trillion dollar tax cuts for billionaires then joyously slap each other on the back for cutting home heating oil assistance to poor folks proclaiming their fiscal responsibility.

It’s sad when golden ages end and that’s where we find ourselves now folks, the party is over, the bills are coming due, and if this was the nation that Kennedy called us to be so long ago we would rally together and endure the needed sacrifices to insure our children’s future. Many Americans are ready to pull together and do what is right for the sake of the country.

They are the poor who want nothing but a chance for a decent job to make things better for their families and the working class who grimly face the prospect of never being able to retire, even after years of hard work and doing everything right. Even the relatively secure middle class now faces the hard choice of bearing the cost of caring for their aging parents or being able to send their kids to college. They are all being asked to sacrifice and in large part they are ready and willing. In my opinion that leaves only one general holdout.

It is wrong to say the entire group of corporate masters and financial wizards in our society are not ready to do what is right but I see damn little evidence of it. They whine about oppressive taxes and stifling regulations to the sycophant business journalists but without a second thought will send good paying American jobs overseas to take advantage of near slave labor while reveling in the glory of free market globalism. Here in America many of those masters of the capitalistic universe scheme to bust unions, slash worker benefits, and cut pay all the while their corporations make record profits and award each other outrageous bonuses that would embarrass Midas.

With all the calls for sacrifice from the poor, working, and middle class I have wondered several times to myself what are the rich elites willing to sacrifice for the sake of the future wellbeing of the United States?  However, it is a question none of the national pundits, journalists or other highly paid media types have ever asked to my knowledge, until now.

Say what you will about the MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough and his co-host Mika Brzezinski but of the morning news shows I am able to see they are a relative bastion of lively debate. The others such as Fox Noise have the three moronic morning stooges, Fox Business has Zombie Imus and his long-time toadies, and poor CNN whose morning show couldn’t produce a decent debate to save their lives.

Earlier this week as the Morning Joe group debated the battle of wills between Wisconsin public workers and their governor it was Mika who brought up the question about when and what were the rich willing to sacrifice for the greater good. The question only hung in the air for a few seconds before someone, Joe I think, went off on another tirade about the country being broke and how super-duper cool the governor of New Jersey is for being such a financial hard ass.

I am not naïve, the country is in danger from decades of financial overindulgence in all sectors of life, growing entitlements, and the basic interest we have to pay to the likes of China who watches gleefully on the sidelines as we carry out a slow motion suicide. It is also a given that despite how some want to paint it, there is no real black and white in this predicament. Many in the middle, working class, and poor put themselves in their disastrous economic situations along with some union leaders that instead of protecting the workers sought only power and to cushion excessively their own lives. Moreover, there are some honest and decent corporate executives and bankers who know a healthy America requires a prosperous and growing middle class.

Still, the basic question of when and how much the elites will sacrifice for the good of the country needs to be answered. We poorer folks do not have a choice, the undeniable math will force us to make hard choices to the point our children will have far more difficult lives with far less opportunities than us.

The rich who got us in so much trouble desperately need to ask what they can do for America, not whine about what it should do for them, but so far their silence is deafening.


Tim said...

Nice job Beach. Your right, we never had that shining city on the Hill.
Revisionist History I think they call it.
My hope is Al-Jazeera gets a morning show.

R W Rawles said...

Yes, from the corporate rich: the sound of silence. No one is there.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

A 'sad age' is apt description. Your tome on the moment is very well said. This is one of the best 'felt' posts' I've seen in months, Beach. It's common sense appraisal of the social - fiscal - environmental (as in just the overall national community) is a moment of pause... and left me asking 'how do I make a difference'.... because I thought all through it, the idea of rolling up my sleeves and being responsible for my part in (being) America. I sensed a chagrined "ask not" plea in it... even though it might not have been meant.
It's a solid think about it piece. Thanks Beach.

Akelamalu said...

Interesting post. It's the same here the rich just want more.

Oso said...

Kevin Philips has written of our decline, accurately comparing it to the decline of all other western empires since 1500. Paul Kennedy as well in his book.The parallels are not only striking but easy to observe.Each empire in turn has had influential leaders point out the parallels and call for policy/trend/process reversal, and none has been heeded.
Dutch pointed to Spain, Brits pointed to both, people now point to all three.
Philips makes the point that the effect is irreversible, influential financial interests ( our lobbyists and the equivalent in the other's times)are too deeply entrenched.

Ranch Chimp said...

Well Bum, I'm sure this wasnt the most pleasant posting to write for you, but yep ... you pretty much summed it up well as far as the condition. The worst part to me to alot of this, is all the BS were fed and have to argue over, that isnt even our "our" best interest as a whole, and the choice of candidate's that are hand selected to choose from. Now hearing the news this morning also on a CNN piece on some experimental crap that was possibly being pulled on US Senator's with the help of those involved with research of psychological warfare screwing with the mind's now of our politician's at the interest's of corporation's and such, and this is why I point so much to downsizing and the monitary factor's too. I am sure you know how I feel about this, or have a decent idea of it. Living in Texas and the Southwest I really get blown away by the immigration BS that we are fed (refering to your talk about job's) many American's cause of this propaganda believe that Mexicano's/ Central American's for instance are a "threat" to our job's ... this is such a sham ... what they dont tell you (I also posted about) is that over a million to two million "legal" immigrant's, corporate sponsored are brought to this country from poorer nation's oversea's to fill all the degree position's that our student's are milked and put into bankruptcy over trying to get their degree's here, this IS FACT. My daughter's luckily employed with their degree's have to compete with those just to get a job here in their own country. The reason their brought here, is not to try to reach out in kindness, but because those from a country abroad will work for half the wage's, hardly no benefit's or union's, etc. It's really deep and why I have focused so much on privatization and the reality of it. Enough said ....

lime said...

that echelon of existence won't see any need to change until the rest of us are dead and it's only them left....or until there is open revolt.

MRMacrum said...

Well done Beach. The Wealthy do indeed need to answer the question "what am I willing to sacrifice for my country." And as you say, they are conspicuous by their absence from this debate.

What angers me more than mainstream media bozos not bringing it up is that Obama is absolutely silent here. He is not doing his job. He needs to at least ask the question. And he hasn't.

Liberality said...

They whine about oppressive taxes and stifling regulations to the sycophant business journalists but without a second thought will send good paying American jobs overseas to take advantage of near slave labor while reveling in the glory of free market globalism. Here in America many of those masters of the capitalistic universe scheme to bust unions, slash worker benefits, and cut pay all the while their corporations make record profits and award each other outrageous bonuses that would embarrass Midas.

that quote pretty well sums it up I think. Great post dude.

Beach Bum said...

Tim: Morning Joe is okay, as long as Scarborough doesn't feel the need to remind everyone twenty or thirty times during the show he is a small government conservative.

Rawles/Vigil: They are all out on their private islands.

Gwen: Honestly Gwen, I figure we are royally screwed until the old conservative farts die off. Only a young dynamic nation can face the challenge to reform. Old farts want security and stability in their golden years and any attempt to reform will have them assuming they will have to pay for it.

Akelamalu: Just me wondering out loud, but the rich getting richer seems an universal condition.

Oso: Like I mentioned to Gwen above my only hope is the great dying off of the Fox viewers.

Ranch: No, it was a fun post, just me thinking out loud. Seriously, for several hours other than correcting typos I was so depressed I didn't want to mess with it.

Lime: Open revolt is an option, the demographics of the United States is doing a major shift not seen since the period right before the Civil War. The Teabaggers are on the way out and a far more diverse America is coming.

Mike: Obama has seriously ticked me off several times, I thought he would be far more active and dynamic once in office. If I hear one more time of him kicking back at a concert at the White House I swear I will puke.

Liberality: Just my stupid attempt to think out loud, all I did in the end was just start my weekend drinking early.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Getting the top rate back up to 39.6% would have been a decent start (not to mention a fairly nominal sacrifice).

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Politicians who could count wouldn't hurt, either.

Windsmoke. said...

Well said, but i think the rich will only sacrifice something if they can get back double or more in return. It's still a case of the rich get richer and the poor get poorer no matter which country you live in, one example is the obscene bonus payments granted to CEO's even after the government has bailed them out :-).

Randal Graves said...

If there are no benefits to working, aka wasting 8 hours of prime creative time, what's the point of working in the first place? Plenty of us aren't amoral crackpots willing to stomp on someone else in order to get more stuff.

Infidel753 said...

While still very imperfect we are a far more open and accepting society

The importance of this shouldn't be overlooked. For gay people, for example, it's a very different world.

I'm not sure the apex of the financial sector is any more selfish and amoral than it ever was. But it now has much more power and is more willing to use it openly.

Beach Bum said...

Will: It would mean an open revolt by types like Rusty. They don't give a damn about anyone but themselves and their money. Such attitudes eventually bite them back in the ass. I am so pissed off with those assholes right now I highly doubt I would piss on a conservative if I saw the MoFO on fire.

Windsmoke: Absolutely! The shits don't care about anything other than how it should serve them. I believe healthy civilizations are built on a certain amount of sacrifice by the individual with the payoff being everyone advancing together. Of course here in America many consider that socialism.

Randal: LOL!!!
I ponder the same thing many nights as I watch my sterilizers doing their duty and I doodle in my notebook with story ideas.

Infidel: The overwhelming abuse and mishandling of money by the financial wizards should have caused them to hang from lampposts all along Wall Street.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Don't let Rusty get to you, double b. He's a provocateur who likes to get under people's skin. Showing him that he's succeeded only encourages him.......Plus I need him to make me look moderate. LOL

Dusty,Hells most vocal Bitch said...

Chris Christie is a blowhard that uses cute phrases to demonize the middle class as the 'bad guys'. He also keeps running his piehole about Social Security, which btw is sound until 2035 and adds NOTHING to the national debt. Why no one calls that fucktard out on that issue alone stuns me.

The Democrats should be calling out all the Nutters on the bullshit they are spewing about the middle class being the so called 'elite' that is bankrupting the nation and most states.

But we hear nothing from them on a national level. They leave the state Dem's to fight the good fight alone whilst Christie and others get a national stage to trash the unions and the middle class. It sickens me.

Jack Jodell said...

Very good summation, Beach, and I'm glad you picked up on and emphasized Mika's point. It is high time for the ultra rich to sacrifice too, and they can begin by stopping their outsourcing and producing some good-paying jobs right here at home!

Beach Bum said...

Will: I just used Rusty as an example, in reality I am rather fond of him much like a colorful mold that enhances the character of a bland brick wall.

Like I said before I don't give pissants the time of day and if I do acknowledge them it is because I have nothing remotely better to do.

My point is that we are all in this sinking ship together and insistance that one pure idealogy has all the answers does nothing but lead to disaster.

Dusty: Christie is exactly that, a blowhard and America get what it deserves if he ever becomes president.

Jack: I wish more people would ask Mika's question.