The Open Dimension

Commentary on social issues; politics; religion and spirituality

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Location: Laguna Hills, California, United States

I am a semi-retired psychotherapist/psychiatric social worker and certified hypnotherapist. Originally a practicing attorney, I changed careers during the 1980's. My interests include history, constitutional law, Hindustani classical music, yoga, meditation and spirituality.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The USA in 2008: God Help Us

Obama's pastor can't be all wrong.

As the old saying has it: “Where there are merchants there will be deception.” And where a national government is totally controlled by the merchants, what you will have is a nation run for profit only at the expense of the general population. What you will have is a government devoid of justice and motivated solely by the maximum financial profit of the few. What you will have is the complete joinder of government and big business. Government and big business becomes indistinguishable; and domestic and international policy is expressly designed to fill the coffers of the wealthy merchant classes to the breaking point to the critical detriment of the national interest. In other words you will have fascism pure and simple. You will have what is commonly called the “United States” as it really and truly is in 2008. Don’t delude yourselves by asserting that it is anything else. Please stop deluding yourselves because self-delusion in the context of the present national crisis is nothing less than lethal.

The American people have been sold a bill of goods; and most regrettably they’ve bought it. And they’ve lost their country, their birthright, in the transaction. Virtually all Republican politicians and the vast majority of the Democrats are nothing more than the willing puppets of the banks and the corporations. They don’t represent the people of this country at all. They work to further the interests of the wealthy merchants who finance their campaigns, provide them with lucrative corporate jobs and no doubt fill their off-shore bank accounts to the brim. The politicians speak so glibly about the free market and deregulation. What they really mean is that the merchants- and that includes the banks, the medical and pharmaceutical industries, the food retailers and so forth - can basically do what they want and charge what they want. And the public has no recourse. No need to elaborate on this point: Take a look at gasoline prices, food prices, usurious interest rates, medical and dental costs. Take a look at burgeoning foreclosures and bankruptcies. Well, not really bankruptcies because, thanks not only to the Republicans but to Hillary Clinton and about fifty other Democrats, plenary bankruptcy rights, which Americans had for about 200 years, were “modified” to serve the interests of the banks and credit-card companies. They serve their masters well. And not that long ago an American could figure on working for thirty or forty years and then be reasonably secure with a pension and social security. Now employers can pull pensions virtually at will and our “government” has looted and mismanaged social-security funds to the point that younger people today presume that social security will be extinct by the time they’re ready to retire. What retirement? You work until you drop or you starve. What amazes me is that Americans are so accepting of all this. How could anything be really that wrong in the good old U.S.A.? You think slavery went out with the Emancipation Proclamation? Well what do you call everyone in a family working two or more jobs to make ends meet? What do you call being in the hospital for a couple of days- even with insurance- and being in debt for the rest of your life? What do you call the average credit-card debt of American families to be about $10,000? I won’t go on. Yes, about 1% of the population gets ridiculously more wealthy by the minute and the rest work like slaves. The new feudalism.

This is where it all was leading, folks. This is the logical conclusion of Calvinist capitalism gone wild. And what happens to basic justice and morality and civility in this kind of system? What happens is that we become a nation of insecure, up-tight, hyper-competitive, mean-spirited narcissistic sociopaths. That’s what happens and that’s what’s happened. I’ve been watching this primaries fiasco that’s been going on recently. The Iraq war isn’t a “prime issue” these days. About 4000 Americans and as many as 600,000 Iraqis have been slaughtered for nothing- well nothing except oil reserves and a power base to replace Iran; countless thousands have been maimed and disabled for life; and billions of dollars will have been squandered and deposited into the hands of the military-industrial complex--- but it’s not really much of an issue. Well, just go shopping, quoth Bush. The economy is the real issue. Christ, I hope karma is a myth. Because if it’s not I shudder for my country. And we Americans are so damned self-righteous. You no doubt saw the video of Obama’s pastor. He’s even more undiplomatic than I am; but everything he said can’t be summarily discounted. We can wave our flags all we want to; but the bare fact is that the only nation that has used nuclear weapons is the U.S.A. Hiroshima and Nagasaki really happened. We dropped atomic bombs intentionally on the civilian population of Japan, killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of people. Not on military installations but right on the people intentionally and with malice aforethought. They make all sorts of high-sounding excuses for it; but what it was really all about was a message to the world- and particularly to the Soviet Union- that we could blow them all off the face of the earth if they didn’t play the game by our rules. And how many oppressive right-wing dictatorships did we support against the people of the nations involved? Just about every one. The excuse we used was “anti-communism.” The real reason was profit for the same hyper-capitalist bastards who are now running our beloved country into the ground without a qualm.

And on a less dramatic but nevertheless topical note, have you noticed the radical decline in common decency and civility in this country? You must have, unless you’re closed off in a cell somewhere. This is supposed to be a “service-oriented” society. Have you ever seen worse services, not to mention ruder servicers? I’ve been accused of exaggerating the phenomenon; but I don’t think so. For one thing, not so long ago, the rule of common courtesy was that adults, unless they were friends or acquaintances or family members, were to be addressed by their last names prefixed by the appropriate “Mr.” or “Mrs.” or whatever. The idea was to show reasonable respect to everyone, no matter what their station in life. Now, for instance, if you are an adult man or woman even of advanced age, and you go into a medical or dental office or whatever, aside from being kept waiting for an inordinate period of time and being treated quite brusquely, some twenty-year-old snot-nose will routinely call you by your first name as though you were a ten-year-old kid who just came in off the street. I guess the idea is to impress upon you that they are your “equal.” You show that you’re an “equal” by being polite and civil- not by behaving like a mal-educated slob. Got it, new Americans? Well, when only money and “celebrity” matters, what can you expect?

This issue of “equality” is an interesting one. You may remember from history classes Alexis de Toqueville. He was a European commentator who visited the United States during the 1840’s. One of the main things he noted about this country in the book he published after his visit- Democracy in America- was that Americans seemed to value equality much more than liberty. In other words: “ As long as we’re all in the same boat it’s all good.” Did de Toqueville have a point and is this what is playing out today in terms of the apparent apathy of the American people? “Well, you know, we’re all working two jobs. Grandpa’s pension was cut and he’s living in the spare room. We may have to let the house go into foreclosure. We can’t afford to get our teeth fixed. Joey won’t be able to go to college. No more roast beef for Sunday dinner. But well, the Joneses have it just as rough. And what about the Smiths. Just as bad. And did you hear about the Browns? That’s the way it is. We’re in the same boat. It could have been worse if we hadn’t voted for Bush. At least he’s kept us all safe.”

What it will take to get it through the thick skulls of Mr. and Mrs. America that this nation is in grave peril I don’t know. But we have to keep trying. The one positive note which has been sounded by the recent political campaigns is that a considerable- and growing- number of Americans seem to be hungry for change and they are mobilizing. Godspeed!