Sunday, August 12, 2012

Austerity For ALL!

There has been a great deal of political talk about security in this century. Growth is the security of organic life. The security of the imagination lies in calling, all our lives, for more liberty, more rebellion, more belief.  
 - Muriel Rukeyser
Men may lack vocabularies, but men in danger share more thoughts than they are given credit for, because they share the same dilemma. Let death draw near, and all men gathered together in twos or threes cease to be shy in their discussion either of it or of life. No school of philosophy can boast a better teacher than peril, when it approaches at a pace lively enough to be contemplated. 
- John Mason Brown


I must say that I find the political stance of conservatives, worldwide, quite amusing. 

The idea that there must be austerity, in these times of world financial crisis, might make sense if the austerity was intended for each, according to their ability. Strangely, the austerities are only meant to be experienced by those people who already experience austerity; the austerity that threatens to be meted out does not cut in all directions. The same breath that proclaims austerity for the rest of us also says that the wealthy should not be taxed, if we want the wealthy to invest in the economy, to create jobs. 

How could anyone believe such rubbish--this is the very thinking, championed by Reaganites and Thatcherites, who double-teamed it to deregulate and privatize, that ultimately led to the disaster we are all trying to live through now. 

The Third World War, in essence, has arrived! It is characterized by a the complete abandonment of any notion of collective endeavor, by which all might be raised up. Can any of you remember when it was a goal to end hunger? Instead, what we have is an overall sense of shameless individualism. Drill, Baby, Drill! is the shrill cry from Wall Street and The City. Think not what I can do to help you build your investment portfolio, but what I can do to fleece you! The environment be damned, I want you to drive your old beater until fossil fuels are but a memory. This shameless and amoral attitude is not limited to investment companies, insurance companies, the banking industry and corporate manufacturing; the Pod People have taken over your unions, your municipal governments, your primary, secondary and higher education systems, your political parties, your government buildings. Moreover, we have been trained to the idea that equal opportunity toward materialism, toward having (of the same rather than the unique) is synonymous with freedom.

Let's face it: bankrupt politics and policies, promulgated by politicians that have been bought by the so-called "Free Market," are bankrupting our municipalities, the very places that need infrastructure and job development, and passing the costs of bankruptcy on to you and to me.

Career politicians, so far removed from what actual people have to deal with in the world that their bankrupt policies created, dole out clich├ęs from the Reagan/Thatcher playbook, and expect us all to pay their salaries, not to mention their pensions and their healthcare. There is no austerity for them, and neither for their masters. Our politicians are willing puppets, because the system they steward feeds them. This is why the so-called "bipartisan" political realm looks and acts like a circus. 

We are, to a greater extent, unwilling puppets. The blame has been put to us, for electing these very officials. I submit that this is yet another case of "blaming the victim," but I concede that there is an element of truth to the assertion. Where is the truth of it? Well, when our economies shifted, in the wake of deregulation that paved the way, from manufacturing to finance (along with it's ugly twin real estate development), the attitude shifted from fiduciary responsibility to unfettered greed. There has been another economic shift, however--one just as devastating. 

The shift has gone hand-in-hand with the move from manufacturing to finance, and it has been fueled by the very technologies that have given birth to social networking, fostering elitism and bolstering a false sense of individualism, one that values the one-line chat quip or the anonymous reactionary rant over a stimulating discussion of actual values between people who stand face-to-face in order to work together.

How can this be? The very medium that has seemed to offer greater democratic action for average people, in such movements as "The Arab Spring," have been used by their creators and primary corporate manipulators, the gatekeepers, as it were, of a worldwide system of corruption.

Does my statement mean that I am a morbid conspiracy theorist? No, not at all, not at all. I may be reading history a certain way, but it is history that I am reading, and the indicators have been hiding in plain sight. I need go no further than the recent and continuing Murdoch Hacking Scandal. Who was Tony Blair serving, while visiting Murdoch in Queensland? Was he serving the British Public or was he serving Rupert Murdoch? He has testified that Murdoch was attempting to pressure members of Parliament to call off the investigation. What does this mean for the public, wherever Murdoch media enterprises exist? It means nothing less than that influence of the filthy rich cuts in on your free speech, not to mention your expectation of privacy or truth in reporting/advertising.

Social media allows us to communicate internationally--as long as political forces don't censor the internet, as in China, Cuba, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, and other countries. Interestingly enough, most of the countries that sensor the internet have repressive governments. The other end of the spectrum is the Murdoch variety, where the internet so free it is mined for information that is used to make money, and possibly ruin lives. On the one hand, there is the hyper-regulation of closed-government, on the other, the unprotected world of deregulation and the so-called "open" government "free market" fracas. In both cases, the people in control are people of power and wealth, people with no self-control, who are all too willing to tell you how to live, just so long as they don't have to live that way themselves.

Additionally, the internet is also used to fuel identity politics. With our good intentions, many of us seek to establish greater freedoms and foster choice for all. We sign up with groups that claim to be for the purpose of activism toward the social values we say we desire. But then these groups tell us how to think and how to act and how to vote. Unwittingly, we have allowed ourselves to become pawns in what ends up being an identity politics smokescreen. Someone else writes the letter, we just click the button.  Sorry to burst the bubble, but that really isn't how democracy works. 

Obviously, equal rights and social justice should be for all, but the way it plays out, sometimes it seems as though rights and justice are for some, even few, rather than for all. While we are all arguing identity politics, war crimes are being committed all over the world, by ours and perhaps every government. People in all parts of the world are being abused and denied access to food, shelter, clean water. But because we are bickering about how one kind is either oppressed or even entitled over another kind, we don't see the larger issue, that we are all being oppressed and used, if not abused and denied. And we are all guilty of denying that humanity is one kind and that all are entitled.

In short, for the "freedom" to "share" our thoughts, we pay. We pay in the way our every move is documented and analyzed for what we do, who we like, how we live, how we spend, so that we can be objectified in the morass of unfettered materialistic capitalism that aggregation feeds. We pay, and we will pay until there is nothing left to pay with.

There is nothing left to say about this, except that fools and their money are soon parted. Do you resemble that remark? I know that I do, and I suspect that you do, as well. Not always by choice is this true.

Remember this during the upcoming election season, particularly when some talking-head tells you that you need to be austere in your spending (what little you have) for the good of everyone and that public programs should be sacrificed for the good of the system. That is one horse the talking-heads will ride. And then they'll attempt to ride another, at the same time, and you know what that will be. 

If austerity is the solution, then austerity must be for ALL--one for all and all for one (--or it should be for no one)!! No more bond issues to grease the wheels of a few, no more tax breaks to business entities and moguls with offshore accounts, no more municipal shell games with taxpayer money, no more bailouts to banks who run citizens into bankruptcy with service-charges, and no more of all the rest, while denying basic needs to those who have been ground down in the fallout of World War III, the invisible war declared on you and on me.

If we believe that what we think matters, we need to read more (to be better informed), we need to talk more (not merely exchange chat quips and tweets), we need to rise up on our hind legs and declare ourselves to be active members, all for one and one for all, against the bipartisan circus act that will keep telling us we have to pay the price for their bad and self-interested, self-perpetuating policies.

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