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Saturday, September 25, 2010
I am concerned

Concerned, as a matter of fact, that we, as a country, may be fucked.

The economy is still very rough for a lot of people, we're mired in a couple of very costly wars, oil rigs are tipping over and exploding, and I can't think of a snappy way to end this sentence.

In the past, when I felt a little down about the state of things, I'd take a step back from it all, remind myself that this country has been in rougher spots, and we always managed to tighten the belts, pull together, and do what was necessary to stop the ship of state from sinking. We'd emerge stronger, wiser, and the next generation would be on its way to doing better than the current one.

Not this time. I can't see it happening. Why? There are a lot of reasons.

First of all, I think we have a fascism problem that needs to be addressed. Some of you are probably smirking in a knowing fashion. "A-ha! He sees Obama for what he really is!"

Sort of. You're right, but for the wrong reason.

Fascism is not when men in garish uniforms stand at podiums demanding racial purity or national superiority. Fascism is much more an economic theory than a political one. Essentially, when the government and corporations collude to determine national policy, that's Fascism. Corporatism would do equally well as a description.

So, when you cry that Obama is a Fascist, it's because you think he's coming after your guns and Christianity. He isn't. If the president has Fascist leanings and policies, and he does, you should at least be somehow content that it's only because he is allowing corporations to write law and policy at the federal level, whether they are good for the citizens of the United States or not.

So, stop calling Obama a Fascist, unless you're actually concerned about the creeping corporatocracy that is ruining the country.

But ignorance of the meaning of the word brings me to another equally large problem that makes me think we're going to have a tough go bouncing back this time: We are getting dumber by the year.

We may live in the information age, but most people only want the information that jibes with what they already believe. The world is only 6000 years old? Of course it is, hundreds of websites and my pastor say so! You can cut taxes and reduce deficits? I've found an entire cable news channel and one-and-a-half major political parties in the US who insist it's so! Evolution is a myth? Damn straight, otherwise monkeys would have human babies, right?

Check and mate.

I can almost live with the willful ignorance. I mean, people are taught a lot of really dumb things as children, and bad wiring is tough to rip out once that house is built. If you were taught that the Bible is a literal record, there's always the possibility that you may, upon reaching maturity, understand that they are loosely historically-based fables. Many have good morals, some have really bad ones, and you can still manage to believe in your deity without worrying too much about whether to eat shellfish, or selling your daughter into slavery.

We're past willful. We've moved on to prideful ignorance.

These are the people who will stick their fingers in their ears, screaming how climate change is a myth, even as reams of data rolls in about the continuing streak of hottest years on record. You show them fossils, they trot out Genesis and stories of how dinosaur bones were put in the ground by Satan to fool us. What great things can you hope to accomplish with dependence on people like this?

So, we're ignorant, and dumber. What else? Lazy.

Now, I don't think it's so much a lack of work ethic. People in this country work hard, many because they take real pride in doing good work and earning their pay, although more do it because they're afraid if they don't crush it every second, they'll find their asses fired.

Our problem is that a lot of us want to believe that there is a magic bullet to solve our problems. Crumbling infrastructure? Someone will fix that, the free market, most likely. We're fat, so instead of eating better and exercising, we wait around for science to invent a pill that will allow us to do whatever we want and stay thin, and erect for more than 15 minutes, but less than four hours.

I don't believe we have the will to pull together and achieve anything important anymore. Could this country, as it exists today, build the Interstate Highway System, electrify Appalachia, the South and West, or send a man to the moon? How could we hope to manage them, when everyone is so insistent that things be done the way they want, common good be damned?

Which brings us to intolerance.

We've actually spent a good hunk of the summer arguing about whether or not American citizens with spotless criminal records should have the right to build a community center on a city zoning-approved site they own, two blocks from where some radical religious assholes knocked down buildings nine years ago.


The First Amendment is very clear about this. The government doesn't get to decide how or where you pray. A local government can pass restrictions about types of construction allowed, and usage of areas of land, but if you pass muster on the zoning, you get to have your prayer shack.

Why isn't anyone getting in the ass of the greedy capitalist that sold "sacred ground" (near the strip club), to these awful weirdos, who, let me remind you, had nothing to do with any terrorist attacks on American soil, or anyplace else?

"Well, turning a profit on real estate is as American as apple pie."

And so it is. A corporation made money on the sale, investors were enriched, and the wheel keeps turning, greased in the same manner we all understand.

Greased, not with the tens of millions of gallons of oil that flowed into the Gulf, while government stood by impotently, as BP was allowed to control beach access and the airspace over the disaster, because they've got more flex than any government agency. The feds couldn't stop it, and it turned out that the almighty corporation didn't have a plan for such a contingency, either.

No plan for trouble was needed. The government trusted the corporation to do the right thing. And BP will deliver on that promise, larger profits when all of this blows over.

Which will be sooner rather than later.

This country lacks the will to achieve anything much greater than finding a more comfortable way to watch television. It will be built in China, and it will be paid for with a credit card.

There are still things to be thankful for, of course. I am mostly thankful that I won't be alive in a hundred years to see how bad it gets.

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posted at 11:57 PM

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