Saturday, December 31, 2016
New Year's Abyss
The last time I got old fashioned shitfaced drunk is so far back in my past I actually considered it more akin to an ancient legend than actual fact. Without going into the gory, barely remembered details the story involves several of my army buddies, multiple bottles of Mad Dog 20/20, and waking up underneath a highway overpass. The kicker in this short version of a long story revolves around the fact that my buddies and I left a friend's apartment to make a short walk to a convenience/liquor store to buy food for a party. After that, things go fuzzy really quick and when we woke up one of the guys in the group, Sam Moran, didn't have his shoes. Being that this event took place in Colorado Springs, Colorado during a cold winter night Sam's missing shoes were a not so minor mystery.
With tonight marking the end of that cluster frak called 2016 I plan on frying a similar amount of brain cells, but at least I will remain safely inside my comfortable home. While life offers no guarantees or refunds, 2016 was an utter disaster on so many fronts going from the mundane to the bizarre and different levels ranging between extremely annoying to apocalyptic, not seeing it finally die would be a crime. The real concern sane people should immediately realize though is that while 2016 was a ill-tempered bully, there is a high probability 2017 will turn out to be a narcissistic psychopath.
Yes, that last part is a jab at the person who will soon be occupying Oval Office for the next four years. I will never refer to that piece of gold-plated filth as president. If American society ever returns to some semblance of rational behavior, I am sure academic careers will be made on scientific papers being published which try to explain how a man so detached from reality was given the chance to wield so much power. This is of course assuming Trump doesn't lead the United States over a cliff.
Personally, I've read enough history to understand democracies do some very stupid things once emotions overpower rational thought. At the beginning of the fifth-century BC, the ancient Athenians were on a path that would see them climb to the pinnacle to wealth and power during that period of classical Greek history. However, by 404 BC they were defeated by Sparta and stood a couple of hairs away from enslavement and disappearing from history. The reason being that they were such huge a-holes to everyone that their actions ignited the Peloponnesian War. While Sparta was the chief city they were at war with, it goes without saying Athens was its own worst enemy often treating their allies worse than the cities they were fighting. The only thing that ultimately saved them was by the end of the war the Spartans had exceeded them in the category of being massive a-holes. As the proverbial dust settled, the other Greek cities that fought against Athens saw Sparta strutting around ready to dominate and essentially prevented the enemy city from being razed and its population enslaved.
The Peloponnesian War is a long drawn out and tragic affair, so to make things slightly easier to digest, I would highly recommend reading about Pericles, the guy who lead Athens into the war but whose lack of a real plan to win and caused his own death and thousands of others after a plague ravaged the city. And then there is Alcibiades, a narcissistic punk whose idea to invade Sicily lead to one of the worst military defeats in recorded history. To make matters more surreal, before the Sicilian Expedition went sideways, Alcibiades defects to Sparta and readily helps them in the war against his home city. After that things enter a political Twilight Zone with the traitor later fleeing to the Persians for refuge and finally back to the side of the Athenians.
I guess the half-assed moral lesson Americans should learn from this is that hubris, or in our case, the desire for greatness and blindly following charismatic douchebags will probably lead to disaster. Case in point is how Trump is adamant that the entire American intelligence community is wrong about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Okay, I know I'm bias, but Trump's love tweets about Putin are just creepy and give me a sick feeling in my stomach. Saddling in close to a tyrant while talking shit about your own people while at the same time doing everything in your power to alienate allies just might make the epically bad decisions the ancient Athenian made pale in comparison.
This begs the question how did Trump get elected? Without becoming nauseatingly asinine that is another question best left to academics from some future era. One reason offered up is that he appealed to the down and out white working class who have been left behind by economic globalization and free trade treaties that have strictly benefited multinational corporations. Okay, I'll buy the latter portion of that statement but the former is a bit of a bad joke to me.
Why I find that funny is because despite all the pouting and gnashing of teeth it was the white middle and working class folks that helped create this situation. Way back during the days Trump likes to say when America was great while the average worker had more purchasing power you didn't just run out to Walmart and buy a new television when the old one had a meltdown and was beyond repair. That was a major purchase not far removed from buying a house or car, which required people to shop around and maybe even wait until a few other more important bills were paid off. Hell, the simple fact that numerous people made their living going to houses to repair stuff like televisions is a testament that you didn't easily replace that item. Yes, for the person who might bring up television repair is still a job these days, but it is nowhere near the levels of those bygone years when RCA and Zenith were common names in American living rooms.
While there was never a single nefarious corporate suit who sat in his office planning the economic neutering of the American worker, having overseas workers build products them ship them to the United States was a huge win on several different levels. First, it promoted international stability since a happy foreign workers was less likely to look to the commies for a chance for a better life. Remember the Cold War where the United States was engaged with the Soviet Union over the hearts and minds of the people of the world. Secondly, cheap products flowing into the United States meant Joe Sixpack could have an easier life. The last thing on Mr. Sixpack's barely literate mind was that this convenience would slowly eat away at the very foundation that made his lifestyle possible. Sort of like letting a kid have unrestricted access to a candy store whenever the little brat wanted. Pretty soon that access begins to be viewed as an entitlement even though the lazy brat is badly overweight, suffering from severe health concerns, and has no teeth left in his or her head. The American consumer loves cheap electronic toys and food and it surprises me how few Trump supporters have thought through his delusional promise to bring back those good paying jobs.
Let's say Trump waves a magic wand, which given economic realities that is what it would take, and brings back those good paying factory jobs. These workers would at least have to make a decent wage around fifteen to sixteen bucks an hour because of the cost of living here in the States. A large part of the reasons the toys and food are cheap is because the workers involved aren't paid shit. American workers getting at least fifteen bucks and hour will naturally cause the price of televisions, washing machines, computers, and any other product you can name to raise accordingly thus returning us to a more sedate 1950's to 1970's way of buying big stuff. This will naturally shrink the economy to those same levels pretty much negating any benefit. For the sake of simplicity, I'm ignoring the new and rapidly advancing automation technologies that have many economists and politicians scared to death because it seriously look like it could eliminate a huge chunk of the jobs in existence today.
Another thing that really worries economists is that forty-million Americans make their living producing stuff that is exported overseas. Have Trump simply put tariffs on the incoming toys, which will force other countries the respond in kind and pretty soon those folks are out of work sinking the economy. Then again, one of the most self-destructive statements I ever heard came from a organized labor hating redneck who back during the time the American automotive companies were about to go out of business wanted those union workers to suffer because he thought they were coddled to much. He was the prime example of someone wanting to cut off their nose to spite the face.
All things considered, this love of cheap toys is one of the reasons those poor working class folks pretty much screwed themselves. That and the fact that off all the people I know personally in that category none of them have even a microgram of curiosity or ability to look beyond their stunted existence. The information they base their decisions on comes from sources that reinforces their already narrow view of a world growing increasingly complex. As long as they are told they are victims and that some minority boogeyman is out to take their stuff and force them to eat tacos or buy prayer rugs they feel justified to sit inside that candy store and suck down more sugar. That is assuming they ever look away from the entertainment offal flooding those big screen televisions bought at the local Walmart.
Such conditions do not lead to rational adults who can make intelligent decisions about the future of their country. Call me an a-hole, but all I see are a people turning into proles from Orwell's book, 1984. With 2016 a massive pile of stinky, watery poop I have no optimistic illusions about how 2017 will unfold. My chief concern is whether or not Trump gets us into some type of war with Russia and China. While the gold-plated filth openly admires Putin, the Russian president's main goal is to reestablish Russia on the world stage as a major power. I hold to the view that he will not feel that is accomplished until he totally embarrasses the United States by destroying NATO or even direct military conflict. I admit, I consider President Obama to be an exceptional man and leader but he has allowed Putin far too much leeway in world affairs.
Calling Trump just a fool would be a backhanded complement, I have such a low opinion of him I see Putin playing that chump along to the point that even Congressional Republicans will be forced to act to save political face. And if on the off chance Trump wakes up to how badly Putin played him as a bitch, that thin-skinned narcissist will lose his mind. I've already stated how things could go with China, which could lead to military conflict by itself. If that should happen, expect Putin to jump in to assist China since that would accomplish his own goal.
About the only way I can see Trump coming out ahead in the years to come is if he goes totally counter to his usual behavior. If Trump keeps to the White House and occasionally announces some bogus deal with an individual company about keeping jobs here or bringing a few back to the United States he might be able to keep is suckers happy. They are already heavily brainwashed to believe anything broadcast from Fox News and other fake news sources. The only question I have is whether or not the Democrats will get organized and come up with a plan that will hurt Trump in the 2018 midterms and kick him out of the White House in 2020.
So, given my concerns and fears you should be able to understand why I plan on getting shitfaced tonight. With that I say good luck to everyone and I look forward to seeing what the human comedy will offer up in 2017.