The alternative online magazine, Subversify, has published my reflections on Wisconsin (click here). Feel free to go there and comment. The following is somewhat of a follow-up to that article...
* * *
-=[ The Future is Now ]=-
I was raised to believe in the American Dream. I believed that if I worked hard enough, if I was smart enough, if I got good grades in school, went to a decent college, played by the rules, and worked really really hard, that I could grab at least a measure of that American dream. When I was a child, I was assured that the depth of American ingenuity and expertise would save us all and that we would become an enlightened society pursuing the further reaches of human nature with the increase of leisure time, as technology and human evolution converged to create a more noble model of society. A great society preoccupied with eradicating poverty, hunger, and disease.
I believed in an American future in which we would conquer space, where solutions for previously untreatable diseases were right around the corner. I was assured that the tension between technological innovation and the environmental havoc it sometimes caused would be resolved.
I believed in this dream because so many people were actually out there on the frontlines fighting to ensure such a society. Everywhere people were engaged in critically questioning the status quo. People of color, women, and people of different sexual orientation were fighting and challenging the oppressive institutionalized systems that kept us from becoming a greater whole. And in spite of all the conflict, there was the real sense of hope in that people were doing more than talking about it -- we were all somehow engaged in ensuring the American Dream for all people.
When I was a child, I was assured that we would develop viable alternative energy sources. Lies. A cure for cancer. Lies. I was told of a future wherein people -- for the first time in human history -- could commit the bulk of their lives for their intellectual, spiritual, and material benefit. Lies.
Welcome to the future, my friends. I live in a city where it is illegal to be black or brown. Here the color of your skin, not your grades, determination, or educational attainment, matters most. Today, being smart is considered elitist. Worst of all, today you work longer hours for less money -- if you’re fortunate enough to be working at all. You’re less likely to be able to have access to decent health care, if you have any health care options.
Welcome to the future, it is now -- a future of disappointment. And the only reason you haven’t noticed is because you’re too busy jerking off to the latest online celebrity sex tape or watching “reality” shows of “celebrities” whose talents apparently have more to do with sucking NBA cock than being able to actually sing or dance. Or perhaps you’re too busy watching American Idol or Snowdrift Snookie’s latest idiotic political pronouncements. Either way, we’re amusing ourselves to death.
For the past few weeks, regular, working-class people in Wisconsin have been staging mass protests in numbers that dwarf anything the Pee Farters -- with their access to billionaire dollars -- could only dream of. Sustained, mass protests fighting for the right to bargain collectively, arguably one of the main reasons we ever had a middle class of any worth in this country.
Sadly, the “libruhl” media (inexplicably owned by a handful of multinational corporations) has effectively ignored, misinterpreted, or downplayed this moment in history. God forbid some dimwit neocon Medicare recipient farts at a town hall meeting and the same quiescent media will stampede over itself to cover it, dissect its fragrance ad nauseum, and pontificate endlessly on its meaning.
The major economic theory of the past 30 years, the trickle down theory, is not just a cruel hoax, but most of the good industrial jobs have left the country, and the middle class has been disemboweled. There is no free time. You’re fortunate if you can get a job whose major requirement is knowing how to ask, “Want fries with that?”
Still, while you and I struggle to make ends meet, living lives of quiet desperation, the wealthiest Americans have quintupled their net worth, even in the midst of an economic disaster that only a fool would label a recession.
Here is the American Dream of the future today: no jobs, no prospects, no leverage, no short-term solutions, no long-term plans, no big ideas to save us. While the bottom four-fifths struggle to stay afloat, and the upper one-fifth cautiously tread water, the top 1 percent continue to accumulate wealth at a rate not seen since the Gilded Age.
In the future of today, CEOs earn monster salaries, corporations receive taxpayer welfare, and we have half the U.S. Congress boasting of being millionaires. Meanwhile, medical liabilities bankrupt the rest of us at record levels, one person in ten is out of work, and food stamp usage sets new records every month.
Even with near-record unemployment, the Department of Commerce reported in November 2010 that U.S. companies just had their best quarter... ever. Businesses recorded profits at an annual rate of $1.66 trillion in the third quarter of 2010, which is the highest rate (in non-inflation-adjusted figures) since the government began keeping records more than 60 years ago.
Shrinking incomes, fewer jobs... but bigger corporate profits. Not a good sign. Somehow, many of you have been convinced that the answer is doing more of the same: give more to the rich and we’ll all benefit from the resultant odiferous trickle down. What’s obvious is that the rich are not only dedicated to hanging on to what they have (duh!) but also committed to accumulating more, gets maybe a yawn from the dumb-down, apathetic American voter. In fact, our country's concentration of wealth is worse than Egypt.
This is nothing but class warfare and when you try to show, whether through charts and graphs or real-life examples, that the system is rigged in favor of the wealthy and powerful, you’re labeled as unpatriotic, a socialist and/ or communist. What often happens is that, instead of yelling back, “Hell, yes, we’re talking fucking class warfare!” liberals usually fell over themselves in apology, vehemently denying the accusation. They react as if talking about class warfare is tantamount to treason. Center-right politicians like Obama get spooked and fall in line, saying “Look, Eddie, we can’t do social engineering through the tax code. And there’s no reason to declare class warfare.” It’s pathetic.
The wealth gap has become so alarming that even billionaires like Warren Buffett acknowledge that the Bush-era tax cuts should be allowed to expire. In fact, Buffett contends, the wealthiest Americans should pay even more in taxes. The people in Wisconsin, representative of the majority of Americans, that bottom 4/5 who are barely keeping afloat, are now fighting this fight and it barely registers a yawn from many of you.
Someone suckered us along the way. The future we bought into was great until we fell asleep and woke up to find that at some points the future becomes the present, and the fact that it was once the future doesn’t mean it’s all fucked up once it arrives.
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization...