Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Oh No! Another Sentimental Journey?

The dream goes on?

Not so much, but at least the tantrum goes on.

Understanding the last election

 How could we have gotten so stupid and self-destructive?

After the medieval text books validated by the gaseous cultural ideology of the Texas School Board's "Approved for Reading" list had worked their educational magic, almost no Americans had much a grip on history which hadn't been pre-digested into a movie for them.  The population of reflective folks with some perspective on events diminished in favor of a growing population of remarkably unaware -- and worse, uninterested -- eager beaver "money makers" consumed with a dream of simply having more than the next guy.

The scope and meaning of that "more" amounted only to troublesome details lost in the frenzy.  

In this cozy environment where neither history nor facts had any foot hold, the people were given, instead of a well founded hope, a narcotic fantasy.  Had actual parents indulged their petulant children with ideas so destructive, the police would have detained them for child neglect.

There seem to be two unavoidable aspects of this "ignored" recent history which lie at the root of the current dilemma.  Neither concept would enjoy such a position of influence had the underpinnings of its contradiction not been so energetically avoided.  Having said this much, the torment is further enhanced by the fact that there is nothing secret about the "missing" information -- no conspiracy, no esoteric secrets.  In fact, the effort required in avoiding this unsettling knowledge greatly exceeds the effort involved in acquiring it!

It may be great fun to trash sex education, but our national difficulties arise from trashing civics classes.

The Not-So-Secret, Secret Knowledge

First, voters did not even remotely understand the depth and scope of the damage we barely survived in the last decade.  The W's looting scheme made Pearl Harbor like a bothersome gnat at the picnic. In the hypnotic absence of any particular understanding of where we were, what happened and where we are now, it's only natural that cinematic fairy tales are more attractive than historical fact.

Second, the idea that an infantile "immediacy tantrum" could magically return us to a place of our past glory served, as it turns out, as a death warrant not just for the poorly formed dreams of a more comfortable, yet, imaginary past, but for the dreamers themselves.  Rather than face even the smallest inconvenience which might be associated with rehabilitating ourselves, we have reverted to starting a tantrum with the childish expectation that our over indulgent parents would, once again, rush to suave our wounds.

The premise was simple.  Being a "bullet proof" Super Power with an equally "bullet proof" standard of wealth, what possible worldly adversary could possibly plunge us into anything less than more happy days of "roses, simply roses?"

The W and his cronies answered that question in spades.

Anyone with such an ambitious demand that the future be once again just like the past -- save the unsatisfactory parts which take longer to forget -- would do well to avoid much history.

Recovery 1986-style, The Other "End of the Rainbow?"

The precise date, of course, isn't too important.  However, the important part of our over-indulgent economic recovery fantasy -- and its accompanying tantrum -- is best quietly introduced with details excepting, of course, all their deleted consequences.  What recognizable features will help us paint this up-to-date version of that old rosy picture?

Our house will be over-valued once again.  Oh sure, it will take a "W-style" housing bubble -- or cancer -- to get the steam roller rolling again, but once we're there, our net worth will once again start duplicating itself every fifth year.

A Dow Jones closing average of 16,000 or so would be nice.  Especially if we could, once again, manage to get there without making anything but paper financial gizmos.  After all, didn't securitized mortgages bring those halcyon days?

The full restoration of our retirement accounts could help make us happy.  Mutual funds assets deserve to be invulnerable, not like fleeting lucky streaks at a poker table.  The missing $5 trillion of suddenly missing wealth was nothing more than a bad dream.

It would be very convenient if the "bad people" in the world all dutifully continued to wage WW2 instead of all these messy, hard to understand, insurgencies.  We could joyfully punctuate the otherwise dull progress our  growing personal prosperity with a few, real victories -- the kind which justified too many martinis , kissing strangers in Times Square and wild, unfounded dreams of an even better national future.  We could, once again, buy stock in military contractors.

Americans should be able to cut the deficit and the national debt without feeling so much as a minor "pinch" in our standard of living.  As citizens, our job is supposed to be fully enjoying low marginal tax rates while not noticing the collapsing bridges or killer chuck holes in the Interstates.

All the exported jobs should magically flow back into the country.  When the Third World realizes how inconvenient their economic growth has become, they will simply fire all those out-sourced workers and return to their old gut wrenching poverty.  It's the least they could do.

Finally, we should be able to, once again, tell who belongs to the Country Club by looking at their kid's teeth.  Health care for poor people is just "so yesterday."

Does it sound crazy?  Remember, we were there a decade ago, or, at least, "sort of" there.

A Realistic, "Non-Rainbow" View of Economic Recovery

An unending tantrum of simply insisting that recovery means restoring everything to what it was before the looting began is the "hottest selling item" in the Republican dollar store at the moment.  The mid-term election outcomes support this idea.

Americans are not interested in a frightening look at what our future actually holds for us.  They remain infatuated with considering economic recovery as nothing more -- or less -- than a return to the way things were.  A more rational view of the actual, "out-of-control" likely prospects is much more frightening for them.

The old American economy has been stolen and subverted by the very worst among us.  The crime was conducted under the cover of a government which weaseled its way into power and perfected its subterfuge before leaving.  The damage done during that process absolutely spelled an end to the drunken, lackadaisical American fantasy which had prevailed previously.

The country is not going back to that place.  In fact, that place doesn't even exist as a possibility any longer.  All of those old pretensions of exceptionalism have "beached themselves" on the cruel rocks of reality permanently.

The political advantage which has been "harvested" from an electorate who continues to think that the difficulties of the day are no more than a temporary departure from the mindless, soul-less march to the top has left the continuing collapse even more inevitable than it was before.

Job One for the American people remains the same: 

"Bail out this sinking boat!"   

The Republicans may have successfully convinced voters that the real issue is the color of the ribbon fluttering atop our lifeboat's flag staff, but their feet are getting just as wet as ours are.  The billionaires have already left in the chopper.

If we must continue to gleefully volunteer for national suicide, MeanMesa would prefer to at least go there in better company.

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