Friday, October 25, 2013
A Spectacular Insanity
Before anyone's knickers get all twisted into a wad of righteous indignation let me state that I am a honorable discharged veteran who served four years in the active duty army and seventeen in the South Carolina National Guard. During those years I saw both the exceptionally positive aspects of serving in the military and, of course, the nasty dark side that neither the mindless gung-ho types will admit to nor the armchair generals have any idea exists. So while I am a sorry ass, bleeding heart liberal strangely fixated on little things like social and economic justice for all Americans I, unlike a multitude of chickehawk conservatives, have actually served my country. While that does not make my opinion anymore important than that of the craven little fools who love the idea of war until they, or some member of their family might serve, at least I can say with all certainty I am not a hypocrite.
You do not have to be an anthropologist to understand Americans are a conflicted people these days. Many of us feel privileged to the point that any suggestion that we as a nation might be wrong in even the most miniscule issue can cause multiple waves of self righteous indignation. We wallow in a semi-fascist concept called “American Exceptionalism” that makes everything we do something directly ordained and approved by God. The planet can be raped and corporations can run amok but its all okay because we are the baddest people that ever walked.
Despite these narcissistic tendencies our longstanding dominance of the world stage is faltering because other countries are becoming better educated and organized while conversely we Americans seem to have our collective heads permanently stuck up our consolidated asses. We live off a mental diet of inbred reality shows and abject escapism deep fried in a batter of indifference. So much that a strange collection of elected morons can shut down the government bringing us damn close to causing a national economic meltdown but just a few days after the crisis is postponed we quickly return to our favorite delusions.
But deep down I have this gut instinct that Americans on an unconscious level understand that our privileged status and days of power are running out. The country that was once sickly optimistic believing that every problem could be solved with just the right amount of intelligence, faith, hard work, and guts has become a place where paranoia, fear, and self interest rule almost exclusively.
Our defense budget is greater than what all the other major nations spend combined. It makes up fifty-seven percent of the total discretionary budget available to the United States government. A paltry six percent goes to education while science gets only three. This is not the behavior of a people ready to meet the future and remain a player on the world scene.
So while we continue to build things like massive aircraft carriers, stealthy submarines, and sleek jet fighters designed to fight a power like the dead and gone Soviet Union shit like this happens:
From the Washington Post
A 12-year-old girl got sick late last month while she was at her Philadelphia school — a school without a full-time nurse. She died later that day. Here’s a piece on what happened to Laporshia Massey from the website of the nonprofit Parents United for Public Education in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia school district has been in a state of crisis for years in large part because of under-funding by the state. Drastic budget cuts this year led to what was referred to as a “grim new normal” that included the closure of two dozens schools, layoffs of more than 3,800 personnel and other cuts that left some schools without money for paper and new books.
Our hearts are breaking over the death of beautiful 12 year old Bryant Elementary student Laporshia Massey, who died following an asthma attack that apparently started at school. We grieve for her entire family and the Bryant community.
According to the City Paper, Laporshia became ill during the school day. No nurse was scheduled. Laporshia called a family member, telling her repeatedly, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” A staff person drove the sixth grader home.
Hey, I understand what the armchair generals and chickenhawks will say. "It's a dangerous world filled with crazy mother f*8kers that live to blow themselves up. We've got to defend our freedoms and all that awesome shit that makes America special."
Okay, like I said at the beginning, I'm a veteran myself and I do understand that like Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred said in one of the Batman movies there are just some people who want to see the world burn. So yes, that means for a long time we will need men and women ready to defend this country and our allies.That is still no excuse to let the United States decay and fall apart because politicians like the idea of a world empire at the same time the CEO's of the corporations making up the military/industrial complex play atop their mountains of taxpayer dollars.
Hell, even some of the big brass types that warm expensive and ergonomically correct office chairs at the Five Sided Funny Farm (the Pentagon for those who didn't know) think we are wasting gigabucks on stupid projects. But who are they to question the wisdom of constantly building bigger, better, and more expensive toys so the politicians can massage their egos, corporations can loot the planet, all the while kids without trust funds fight in foreign lands and twelve-year old little girls die because the school can't afford a nurse. For the most part it's better not to think about this crap, it's too damn depressing, but when I do I have to admit there is a spectacular insanity to this all worthy of an exceptionally stupid people. That is my definition of American Exceptionalism.