Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why America has become Second Rate

If you don't believe it just look at the statistics. According to which year's data you read we are not even in the top 20 in the world for life expectancy. As of 2011 our average lifespan here in the good ole US of A is 77.9 years. Now I know that doesn't sound too bad if you're 30 or 40 years old or younger, but if you are 62 then your life expectancy horizon seems close at hand.

But I digress. The for profit health care system and the resulting politics are mere symptoms of the disease. I found it clearly diagnosed in an article on Huffpost today that you can read in full here.

To summarize, it gives the unflattering and unfortunately accurate description of how the top 1% of our citizens both here in the US and in other developed countries have gamed their national and international economic and political systems to benefit themselves at the expense of the other 99% of their countrymen. One can only be appalled, amazed and astounded at their greed and avarice that knows no boundaries.

At some point the greedy bastards will kill the goose that lays the golden eggs
. As the middle class of our country recedes into the dim past and we continue on our way to a national Hooverviille (or Potterville if you've watched "A Wonderful Life"), there will be less and less to exploit. Right now the current attack is on social security and medicare. The trillions in dollars that have been payed into the system by hardworking Americans is the latest target of their greed. (Though G. W. Bush tried in vain to privatize social security prior to the 2007 recession and crash.)

Along with unmitigated moneyed influence in every level of our government, there is the huge amount of misinformation and disinformation being broadcast, written, and distributed by every means available. The willing cooperation of the media and the public education system in keeping our citizens financially and politically illiterate for at least the last 3 decades has helped the demise of our middle class become a reality in our lifetimes.

We live in a time of financial vampires, failure and incompetence at the highest levels, and political slight of hand where greed is glorified and those who exercise it with no regard for the consequences rewarded.

While I am not a believer in the vast right wing conspiracy, there is no doubt that the so-called right wing agenda in our country has many, many followers and their tactics and strategy have worked well.

Our congress is currently contemplating cutting programs for the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens while the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% remain in place. Corporations have acquired personhood through the good offices of the most radical right wing Supreme Court in my lifetime and women are considering incorporating their reproductive organs in an effort to break free of government interference. (This from a state legislature debate, resulting in the banning of the word uterus from use in the house)

State governments with republican governors and republican majorities in their houses are aggressively going after state worker unions, cutting education, health and any other programs deemed too liberal. Few have tried getting their corporate citizens to pony up any more money in taxes. In fact most have offered increased tax benefits and lower taxes in the hope of attracting jobs. At what cost to their citizens I wonder?

I have little hope of seeing the kind of political and economic revolution that will be required to right our sinking ship in my lifetime. I can however, cling to the hope that before we have a modern version of the great depression our children or our grandchildren will wise up and put the genie back in the bottle.

During World War II we thought that the advent of nuclear weapons was the beginning of the end of the world. Instead it has been the financial weapons of mass destruction and the greedy bastards that profited from them that will destroy our way of life, our sense of security and the well being of millions upon millions of our citizens in this country and the rest world as well.

Now you may ask is it as hopeless as I make it sound? It depends. If the majority of us are willing to educate ourselves enough to understand the real enemies of prosperity and take action then perhaps there is some hope.

The chances seem slim, yet I remain hopeful that some reform, some protection from the vampires, some political or financial garlic might be produced to save us before the last drops of vitality are drawn from the middle class and we deteriorate from mediocrity to irrelevance. Perhaps we'll figure out a way to make things again in our country. Can you think of the last American made TV, Car, Cell Phone, Shoes or Clothing that went home with you? Maybe we'll figure out that a healthy economy can't survive the financial services industry taking up 25% of the income. Maybe we'll understand that politicians are always playing politics with every issue, that they serve the wealthy and powerful and they cannot be trusted. Maybe we'll turn off Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and all the other opionaters and make our own minds up about policy and practice. Just maybe.

What do you think?


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Who I am

In my youth I considered myself somewhat of a thinker, but in truth I was more action oriented than intellectually inclined. Now in my early dotage it seems possible that I might actually become a thoughtful person.

The picture at right is my evidence of that belief. It was taken after Vicki was diagnosed with cancer but before her treatment began. We spent an afternoon at a park in Scottsdale with our kids and a local photographer. The young lady taking the pictures was both talented and creative. We have many great pictures of our kids and us together. Still, my favorite is the one shown here, because I feel

it shows me for who I am, a husband, father and grandfather. In this picture I see the resemblance to my father and vainly hope I am starting to attain his quiet dignity and calm demeanor. Admittedly I am not so sure about either of those attributes coming my way, but I do remain hopeful.

Most men think of themselves as what they do for work. At least I've managed to understand that my most important roles are those that relate directly to my family and friends. My wife has been the one to continually show this aging only child what family is really about. I hope that this picture shows that as well. I am more than content to be her partner in our lives and play whatever part is needed in support of family.

While all of us who have been severely financially impacted by the recession bemoan our work status and finances, I at least, will not fail to count the blessings of a good marriage, a supportive and loving family, and the feeling of belonging to something bigger than myself.

I hope that shows in the picture also.

It's taken me a long time, but I believe that now I am learning who I am.

Who are you?