Let me pay homage to the Gods of Understatement, there is something terribly wrong with this country.
Lately, whenever I get down about my life, I can always find solace by perusing through Mary Meeker’s USA Inc.. In her analysis, which contains enough graphs and spreadsheets to send any McKinsey associate to orgasmic heights, she paints a dire picture of U.S. federal government budget and the sack punch it’s about to receive from the troika of unfunded liabilities named: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. It’s not looking good for us, not looking good at all.
Death by Unfunded Liability
Last Thursday, deep in the winter of my discontent, I grabbed my pitch fork, broke out my red AIDS walk t-shirt (I got it at a garage sale), and marched down to Zucotti Park to join the #OccupyWallStreet protests occurring in Lower Manhattan. From what I had heard on the world-wide web, it sounded like some real Tahir Square type of shit. But to my dismay, when I arrived I found much less Arab Spring and much more UC Berkeley. It was like a giant Halloween party where everybody came dressed as a Hippie. The icing on the cake was a large tribal dance being performed by a group of the protestors.
Tahir Square it is not
Hippie movement or not, I do support the call for change. But I see the #OccupyWallStreet movement’s abstract protest against ‘greed’ and ‘inequality’ as feckless as it is futile. Should the top 1% feel guilty that they are rich? Should there be a blank text box at the bottom of a federal tax return asking people to pay more than they are required to?
In the true spirit of a rhetorical question: of course not! The ability for the rich to avoid taxes is a result of a tax code so full of special interest loopholes that you could hang from it the world’s largest shower curtain.
Simply put #OccupyWallStreet protest is barking up the wrong tree, in the wrong city and at the wrong people. I see the real problem lying about 200 miles to the south in Washington D.C. Knocking on millionaires’ doors, and chanting slogans in front of Goldman Sachs have as much chance of success as a Math major does at a sorority sex party. As ideologically different the Tea Party and OccupyWallStreet movements appear, at their roots, they are bound together by a common disenfranchisement with the federal government.
Like all things in life, it can be boiled down to a LOTR reference
The state of U.S. government reminds me of Frodo after he was stung by that bitch-spider Shelob: paralyzed and foaming at the mouth. The government has long since stopped representing the individual, and instead serves the legion of lobbyists, corporate donors and PACs that hold the keys to any legislators dream of re-election. ( exhibit a: Ethanol tax subsidy, exhibit b: the repeal of Glass-Steagall) These underlying interests are then put into a spin machine and sold to a brain-dead population through a mix of zealotry and used-car showmanship.
The Founding Fathers were smart, but not that smart
Now I am sure if Sean Hannity were to honor me by reading my blog, he would undoubtedly want to beat my pinko ass at the mere mention of the fallibility of the
Founding Fathers. You see, in conservative dogma, the Founding Fathers hold the same divinity as Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour and Peter Ing do in Toronto Maple Leaf lore. The constitution is a marvelous document, and it legitimately balances the traditional sources of power: the courts, the legislature and the executive. But I think maybe Jefferson was too busy boffing his house slave, or maybe Washington was occupied making amends with the Cherry tree federation, because they did nothing to protect government from the sultry allure of money. If elections are decided by whom has the largest dollar warchest, then its only natural that those getting elected owe their allegiance to those who provide the dollars.
Campaign finance has to be regulated, electioneering has to be stamped out, as both serve to completely undermine the notion of a representative government.
Even the Supreme Court, that last line of defense against a government run amok, has abandoned us. In its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205, the Supreme Court struck down a ban to limit corporate contributions in elections as being unconstituional and violating freedom of speech. In his dissenting paper, Justice Stevens remarked “the court had committed a grave error in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings”.
Clarence Thomas, who voted to strike down the ban, said nothing, as usual.
Yet campaign donations and lobbying mean nothing if it doesn’t get people to change their votes. And this is where our society’s swan dive into the deep end of the retard pool proves most fruitful. It’s shocking just how dumb, easy to manipulate and prone to fear-mongering we have become. Surely this is not the nation of our grandfathers (well definitely not my grandfather, he is Indian). The democratization of information means nothing if people do not seek it and form their own judgements off it. Instead, we sit with our mouth held a gape as spoonfuls of 30-sec soundbites are shoveled into our gullets between episodes of ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’.
Hope is kindled
But all is not lost. Be it through the activism of the Tea Party, or through the hippie protests of #OccupyWallStreet, hope remains kindled. Maybe these movements represent a slumbering populace stirring awake in the passenger seat of a car headed straight to the heart of Baltimore (a fate much worse than driving off of a cliff). As the country moves closer to another economic precipice, maybe a long-dormant revolutionary spirit stirs awake?
Science-fiction has given us many reasons to be afraid of our innovations, none greater than the potential for humanity to be enslaved by its own creation. Usually this is followed by images of the red pupil of Hal, or of sentient machines out to make us all Duracell batteries, all of which remain far from reality. However, what if these creations aren’t some robot, but rather the legal entities we have created and afforded to the same rights as a person yet which yield influence far greater than any person?
Remember the boiling frog.