What a week! Emotions running the gamut, flying high only to plummet in a tailspin. Hints of transcendent energy peeking out from behind darkening clouds, teasing us with possibility and then fleeing the scene. Hopes of awakening from a long political nightmare dashed by the votes of those who should know better. My dear friend — and retired union rep — Fishin’ Jim likes to say that our freedom can’t be taken from us, but we can sure as hell give it away. Wisconsin proved him right.
If you’re wondering what those folks were thinking — how thirty-something percent of union families could vote for a man dedicated to the demise of their lifestyle and future security — then perhaps you’ve noticed that here, in post-rational America, we’re obsessed with things that aren’t real.
We create enemies we can go after and are subconsciously afraid of those who actually threaten us, so intimidated that we never glance their way. For instance, unable (and largely unwilling) to hold Wall Street accountable for criminal misdeeds, we are holding Main Street responsible for asking too big a share of what’s left.
In addition, we’ve bought this austerity business hook, line and sinker while handily ignoring how similar policy has created emergency in Europe.
This is as painful to contemplate as ‘moderate’ ex-Senator, Alan Simpson — charged by the president as co-chair of a commission that gave us the budgetary recommendations known as Simpson-Bowles — accusing the California Alliance for Retired Americans of being “a wretched group of seniors” and “greedy geezers” for depending on Social Security insurance. Oh yes, Mr. Simpson is a clod, but he and his friends, preoccupied with austerity measures, have discovered how to strike a dangerous and small-minded note in the nation’s psyche, causing the self-interested and fearful to decide that public workers must be punished for thinking their unions will protect them from having to work well into old age, and suggesting that seniors everywhere must come to terms with cat-food recipes.
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