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Monday, August 20, 2007

It's the way of things


We're on the brink of War with Iran, and, just maybe, a global nuclear holocaust. Our national economy is tottering on the far edges of total collapse, with the Chinese about to dump their T-bills, the U.S. housing market imploding into an immeasurable financial black hole, and worldwide energy production circling the drain. Our planet's refrigeration system is steadily melting down, which will lead, maybe by next summer, to a worldwide cataclysm of nearly unimaginable proportions. Our environment is so full of toxins that most of us need to take over the counter or prescription allergy meds every single day just to keep breathing freely, and our cancer rates are so frightening we just don't want to think about it, and it's getting worse, not better, every minute of every hour of every day. Our personal freedoms and civil liberties come closer and closer to extinction every time Congress votes on something. We are, in fact, living in pretty much an entirely totalitarian police state, right now... and the darkness just keeps getting darker.

It's a bad time, neighbors... in fact, it's just about the worst time I can remember living through. Exacerbating all of this is that our day to day existence is almost calculated by the Powers That Be to mask all the symptoms of the various fevers that are raging through our civilization, society, and culture right now. We aren't going to wake up to how this shit actually impacts any of us until our electricity goes out and stays out, or until local law enforcement, accompanied by one or two guys in jackets that read HOMELAND SECURITY instead of LOCAL PD, kick down our doors, or our house heads for Oz on the back of a Category 5 hurricane, or all the banks shut down at once and we find ourselves with no money in our wallets, no plastic that works, and a million creditors, just as desperate as we are, clamoring for cash we don't have any more.

See, that's just how we are. The four or five of you that read this will nod your heads gravely and say "Absolutely, things are awful, it's terrifying, somebody should DO something". But all of you also felt deeply and genuinely reassured when I wrote that the planetary catastrophes arising from global warming could occur as soon as next summer... because, p'shaw! Next summer? That's ten or eleven months away! That will take care of itself; shit, the whole second season of Heroes will be over by then!

Working can wait... this is paradise...

It's just how we are.

Somebody will do something. Congress. Al Gore. Benevolent aliens. Superman. Somebody. Not me. Not us. Our job is to sit on our asses and watch crappy TV and buy what the sponsors tell us to buy.

I'm as bad as anyone. What do I do? Collect Unemployment. Worry about my kids' teeth. Pay bills. Help a buddy find an apartment. Sign electronic petitions advocating the impeachment of Dick Cheney on the Internet. Bitch about things on my blog. Fantasize about what I'd do, if I just had the power of Jehovah for five minutes. (First thing: step outside conventional time and space, so I have longer than five subjective minutes to think about stuff. Second thing... hmmmm. Don't rush me.)

I just... I don't know what to do. In April of 2006, Arthur Silber, perhaps the most eloquent voice of sanity and reason in the blogosphere, proclaimed that "What we desperately need is a hero". He went on to say:

What we desperately need is a hero -- either an individual or a group, or some combination of both. It is entirely possible that it would require only one individual of national prominence to state the issues clearly to the American public. He or she could give a series of speeches and press conferences, preferably starting tomorrow. I still hope and would like to think that, if the issues were made unmistakably plain, enough Americans would respond.

And here, again, we see it. Our best and our brightest commenter and analyst, and what is he calling for? For someone else (Superman, maybe) to save us all.

I don't know what to do.

I don't know if anyone out there knows what to do.

I do know that if the American people could feasibly save ourselves, and the rest of the world, by rolling up our sleeves, pulling together, and giving up... anything... individual auto ownership... mass consumption of artificial substances whose toxic byproducts continually poison the planet more and more intensely every day... our insanely gluttonous appetite for energy... red meat... low prices at Wal-mart supported entirely by cheap energy and slave labor... ANYthing that might conceivably make any significant difference at all... well... the world would be doomed, because we won't do it.

Sacrificing things is somebody else's job. After all, the American way of life is not negotiable.

This is why the current Administration has been very careful to never, never, never ask or demand that the American people sacrifice anything. They know us very well, and they know they can steal and/or destroy everything vital to us as a free people... as long as they don't take away our cars, our cable TV, or our shopping malls.

And I'd planned to make every sentence of my opening paragraph a link, but, alas, one of the SuperKids is home from school and wants to get on the computer. So, consider yourself briskly scolded for your apathetic laziness, and now, go back to surfing porn or watching Rock of Love on VH1.

4 Comments:

At 9:22 PM , Anonymous Always Esteemed Scott said...

I do know that if the American people could feasibly save ourselves, and the rest of the world, by rolling up our sleeves, pulling together, and giving up... anything... individual auto ownership...mass consumption of artificial substances whose toxic byproducts continually poison the planet more and more intensely every day..

To be fair, giving these things up is virtually impossible for most people, not because they *won't* but because the our culture has been built around the idea of nearly universal car ownership for nearly 50 years. Our cities have been designed in such a way that it is nearly impossible to work, eat or live without an automobile.

The choices we have as individuals as to what products to buy, whether these products are food, clothing, or whatever, is curtailed by corporations that buy only from an ever smaller number of suppliers, usually those that use cheap labour from overseas.

What is needed, in my opinion, is massive government intervention - investment in transportation infrastructure so that public transportation is a real option for people would be a start. Regulatory changes that limit the amount of crap in our food and water would be another.

These sorts of things don't require people to sacrifice anything...except money, and given the current state of affairs , LOTS of money.

Which means taxes.

Which brings us back to your bleak (and I fear, accurate), assessment:

and they know they can steal and/or destroy everything vital to us as a free people... as long as they don't take away our cars, our cable TV, or our shopping malls.

Or raise our taxes.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go play on my PS2.

 
At 12:35 PM , Blogger The Bunnyman said...

Our cities have been designed in such a way that it is nearly impossible to work, eat or live without an automobile.

In some cities, I am told, it is much, much harder to get around without a car than in other cities. Still and all, this is largely a cop out. My life is living proof of the fact that if you HAVE to live without access to a car, you can do it; you just have to find a job that you can either walk to or get to on a bus or a train, etc.

Cars are an enormous luxury and believe me, I know it, but they are not a necessity, any more than electricity is. You may not want to live in a world without either, but you COULD.

Governments, like any other living entity, do, ultimately, what it is in their interest to do. If we want them to rebuild America's once glorious rail network, and to put real money into creating a workable mass transit infrastructure that everybody, everywhere, could use instead of privately owned vehicles, we will have to make it something that is in their interests to do. They won't get anything positive out of doing it, and will, in fact, lose trillions in gas taxes, so we will have to FORCE them to do it. If everybody simply says, tomorrow, "I'm not using my car anymore, and if that means I can't get to work, well, I guess my job doesn't get done", then this will cause government to provide us with some form of workable alternative transportation. Or, massively implement work at home jobs. Or something.

Waiting for the government to intervene is the same as waiting for Superman to save us all. The government is YOU; YOU need to make it get off its ass and do this stuff. If you don't want to organize a massive continent wide driver's strike, then do something else... try to organize a grass roots movement to simply NOT VOTE FOR any elected representative that doesn't enact what you consider to be vital legislation immediately. (For me, while that list would certainly contain on it a lot of green legislation, it would be headed with Impeach Bush and Cheney, Repeal Anything Bush Signed Into Law, Fire Anyone Bush Appointed, and Get Our Troops Home NOW. We need to get that stuff done first; otherwise, there is no point in working on anything else.)

 
At 10:20 AM , Blogger Rover13 said...

I've had a driver's license since 1974. The majority of the time that I've diven the speed limit on all roads was 55 MPH. Now we live in a time that our president says we are addicted to oil, that our economy is treatened by the instability of the region from which we get our sweet crude, and a time where we are threatening the existance of our species twith global warming. Does the president ever speak of lowering speed limits? Or do our elected represnetatives? Do we the people even speak of going back to the old limits? No, because this would cause sacrifce. Or more correctly inconvience. And sacrifice and inconvience are things that we Americans of the 21st century just don't do well. We are a generation of spoiled children and we deserve what we get. Jebus have mercy on those who follow us.

 
At 1:50 PM , Anonymous Always Esteemed Scott said...

My life is living proof of the fact that if you HAVE to live without access to a car, you can do it; you just have to find a job that you can either walk to or get to on a bus or a train, etc.

Well, I *did* say "ALMOST impossible" :)

But yes, you're right, one CAN live without a car if one has to.
Even so, would you not agree that in our society, car ownership is the default assumption for most people?
And while you personally do not own nor drive a car, your family does have one - how easy would it be to stop using it?

It's not too hard to do things like grocery shopping using public transport if you're only shopping for yourself; I think it would be a lot more difficult if you had to shop for a family of 4.

If you don't own a car, as you said, you taylor your lifestyle, housing choices, etc. to that lack of car ownership.

But if you *do* own a car, you likewise can taylor those same choices accordingly - move to the suburbs on the opposite side of town from your workplace, etc. And once you do that, it's very difficult to change those habits, because the way many cities are designed makes it *much* harder to change that lifestyle - in the city I live it, bus service from the suburbs SUCKS unless you work downtown, and housing costs downtown are very high.

Waiting for the government to intervene is the same as waiting for Superman to save us all.

That isn't what I meant. Actually you and I are on the same page on this one, although I wasn't very clear in my original comment.

Government intervention is required because individual actions on this type of problem aren't going to do much; if I say "I'm not using my car anymore, and if that means I can't get to work, well, I guess my job doesn't get done", my ass is gonna get fired, and there'll be someone else glad to take my place.

But obviously, that government intervention isn't going to happen by itself. I do think, however, that it is important to recognize that the government has a role to play IF WE THE CITIZENS make them take on that role, and make the changes that we want.

So it all comes down to We the People.

Sigh. That's not a all comforting, is it?

 

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