Two Anecdotes On The Future of America

By: W.D. Noble

Returning to the Past is America’s Future….

#1 – The Future of Public Services – Bracketed by three main freeways (at a distance), the little town of Alto, Texas lies southeast of the Dallas metroplex on the way to – well, no place, really. It’s one of America’s small towns – grown from farmland and farming people, and largely independent of most things except the land.

Now, however, Alto is getting some press – although it’s now famous for something which I’m sure the citizens wouldn’t want.

It’s the first city in the nation to downsize (read: fire) its entire police force.

Local county sheriffs fielded 20-something calls in the first week of this debacle – over 75% from the little town of Alto (including the arrest of four men from the Dallas area who’d decided to knock-over one of the town’s banks in broad daylight).

#2 – A Return To The 17th Century – About a month ago, a man in his late ‘50’s from North Carolina – unemployed for three years and badly in need of hospital treatment for a chest condition – robbed a bank in his hometown for $1.00. The reason? So he could go to prison in order to get proper food and medical care.  This Dickensian return to the whole debtor’s-prison concept of ‘charity’ hardly raised eyebrows.

We only need to read these two stories within the greater context of what’s happening in America to understand that catastrophe is just over the horizon. I’m not talking about ‘severe recession’, where the populace is kept in check by unemployment compensation and variant welfare programs.

I’m talking about the kind of thing which only requires a spark to set off some very unpleasant consequences.

All over America, states and cities are either engaged in or contemplating variant degrees of ‘shutdown’ in order to balance their budgets. The Federal government, misled by a group of people who’ve caved-in at every turn and in thrall to a mob of economically-illiterate morons calling themselves the ‘Tea Party’ is all set to give the far Right everything it wants by way of budget-cuts.

We can forget any additional safety-net. We can count on the Affordable Health Care Act (disparagingly called ‘Obamacare’ by its detractors) being defunded. Say goodbye to parts of Medicare; count on the retirement age being raised on Social Security (and count on some early moves to privatize it).

Speaking of privatization, you can count on private corporations being handed prisons, schools, fire departments, and anything else which can be sold-off (corruption is the usual result of such actions, as evidenced by the recent test-cheating scandal in Atlanta, and multiple instances of corrupt judges sentencing people to for-profit prisons for financial kickbacks).

What’s the outcome?

I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to see a lot of sick people. A whole lot of them. Babies; too. Plenty of banks out there to be robbed for a few dollars – because the fear and stigma of a prison-sentence is nothing compared to starving in the street with a treatable medical condition.

Speaking of starving, there’ll be more than a few people living in the street this fall and winter. By Thanksgiving, it’ll likely be impossible to ignore the problem – parking your car downtown will be a risky affair after dark – and in some cities, because of the lack of police and the increase in desperate people, it’ll be dangerous anytime.

Retail businesses in city-centers will have to organize, pooling resources to hire additional security.

“Wait until October”, said Ralph Nader, recently. “That’s when the budget cuts will hit home.” He’s right, of course – the timing of Federal, nationwide budget slashing, cold weather and desperate people will be a perfect storm of sorts; a trifecta of disasters.

With the Democrats now behaving like Republicans and the Democratic leadership from Obama on down now obsessed with reelection rather than leadership, and with the true tenets of Liberalism now little more than a memory, we cannot look there for solutions. The extremists in charge are not being met by extremists on the other side; instead, they’re met by a group of ‘intellectuals’ led by Obama and promoting the idea that logic and reason will prevail in the face of a group of people who’ve already bought and paid for the government, the courts and the military. What Obama and his supporters don’t realize is that they’ve already lost.

America’s religious institutions are now engaged in the business of self-preservation through endless expansion and fund-raising; some have created themselves anew, touting a weaponized gospel of conquest and radical extremism. Speaking out for truth and justice are a thing of the past; advocating the lot of the least among us is by and large history.

The real question that’s left isn’t “What do we do?” The real question is, “What happens next, and when?” Frankly, we’re likely past the point where the Bush era destruction of the rule of law is reversible; we’re past the point of reversing the damage to the economy from thirty years of Chicago School economic idiocy, as the ‘trickle down’ theories which brought us to this pass are now firmly ensconced as Holy Writ among the new crop of Teabaggers and suchlike; we’re also likely past reversing much of the damage done to our environment (that issue being mired in a politico-religious morass based on the far-Right’s rejection of science).

No; the only real issue left is to do a little math – and ask ourselves whether it’ll take 50 towns like Alto before the whole thing collapses, or 500; whether it’ll take 1,000 people robbing banks for health care, or 10,000 before a revolution occurs.

I don’t put much faith in the ballot-box any longer; the inmates now run the asylum, and current trends are calling for more, and not less, of the same. Elections are an ineffective illusion; a means of giving people the misled notion that they’re actually participating in their own government.

Two anecdotes. The future, as I’m fond of saying, isn’t set – but connecting the dots is becoming more and more a bleak affair; a Greek tragedy where the outcome is more and more certain. We’re out of money, out of time, polarized down the middle, and past the Age of Aquarius. Peace, love and understanding are thin on the ground; the storm you see in the rear view is the New Dark Age, coming to bite us all in the ass. Objects Are Closer Than They Appear.

Plan accordingly.

About astranavigo

Astra is one of the clever monkeys occupying space on the Third Planet From The Sun. While it was an early wish of Astra's to be one of the first to go to Proxima Centauri, he knows this is not to be; instead, you can find him here (some of the time) using simple tools to create communication. Holding up a mirror and saying 'Looky! Mistofer Emperor! Y'ain't wearin' no clothes!" is but one of the services he provides here. Others are subverting prevailing wisdom, peeing in people's Cheerios, trashing on their Imaginary Friends (he does this a lot,) and shifting paradigms without benefit of a clutch. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he hopes he'll never have to learn the true meaning of some of his dystopian fiction.

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6 Comments on “Two Anecdotes On The Future of America”

  1. This, by way of commentary and response on my own website (where this article is also published) bears repeating:


    “The sad thing is I believe you, as usual. Things are just getting worse. After reading the only rag in Arizona this morning telling me that Obama is going after Social Security and lets screw the working class yet again one more time by adjusting the tax set up where we will pay the largest share of taxes and the rich will get no new changes. I give up. I use to care about voting, doesn’t seem to mean much these days. All Obama wants to do is get reelected. Maybe he has a plan we can’t see. Like his second term it won’t matter is he gets reelected and he can be as tough as he wants. Who knows. “

    Response:

    And, as I’m fond of saying, I take no pleasure at all in being right.

    When Obama was running for President, I caught hell for pointing him out as a panderer; someone who was chamelionic and as Machiavellian as necessary in order to achieve his goal.

    The only thing the guy did with his first 100 days was host a Super Bowl party – oh; and win the Nobel Prize for simply showing-up.

    We shouldn’t be surprised at that last one – he became the ultimate recipient of the ‘everyone’s-a-winner’ award; proof and positive-reinforcement of the fact that all one has to do is participate, and the teacher (or the committee) will put a nice, shiny medal around your neck.

    Not-So-New-Newsflash: I think we all know instinctively that life doesn’t work that way.

    So, we reap what we sow – in the midterms, we elected Pelosi and her people with a clear mandate to impeach Bush for his wholesale-run on the Constitution, to put an end to the depredations-made-manifest in the Patriot Act; et. al., and to put an end to these accursed wars.

    Instead, she and the whole Dem leadership wimped-out, handing Bush the last two years of his term on a platter, so he and his cronies could finish destroying the economy, and ruining an entire generation with his ‘git-r-dun-Jesus-is-on-my-side’ philosophy.

    I wrote letters. I protested, for-f**k’s-sake – and what amazed me was the complete lack of action from those who called themselves ‘Progressives’.

    Reason and logic have been shot in the chest; they’re bleeding on the floor, and the Teabagger/Neocon/Fascist-Fundies are grinning over the corpses. This is their time now; we have no reason to think otherwise.

    Obama has stepped politely over the bodies of Reason and Logic, bearing an olive branch for the gunmen.

    We are so screwed I can’t begin to describe it all….

  2. I see several issues involved here, Will. One is the conflict of government funded law enforcement versus a dwindling police force through federal cuts. In order to advocate for law enforcement at this stage in the game, leaves bankrupt states with no choice but to hand over their law enforcement agencies to private contractors. Since our courts have already joined the advocacy of private prisons, the question is one of who shall maintain law and order; the official police force already dedicated to keeping three million Americans in prison, or one that springs from the needs of the community to bring miscreants to justice. If the courts are not serving justice anyway, than the funding for the court system should also be hacked. It is, after all, supported by our tax payer dollars and should cater to our best interests, not the manifested desires of corporations.

    The anti-science religious rabble did not cause our environmental break-down. The perpetrators are the presentation of false science that weakened the guidelines of the food and drug agency as well as the environmental protection services. It was a service of denial to impact reports, to unsafe procedures, to culpability for man-made disasters, using sham science as its basis of argument. The anti-science fanatics are simply gullible. Believing the industry that has brought them their bread and butter could not possibly be responsible for the environmental calamities that have attacked them, they lay the blame on sinners whose derelictions had little to nothing to do with environmental waste. The more shamefully guilty are those who know the basic fundamentals of science; its cause and effect; yet choose to believe the liars of corporate administration because it’s convenient.

    We are so screwed, and not just by a corporate government that has chosen to see people as numbers to exploit, but by an Earth in its upheavals as it seeks to rectify the imbalance created by squandering our natural resources. Let the anarchy begin. It is the only course left to survival, the only hope for life with dignity, the only way we can reconnect as humans with compassion and sound reason.

  3. If this is your vision of the future of the nation, you are an optimist – incidents like this are only the beginning of a total upheaval of social order that will ultimately result either in the break-up of the U.S. or else the imposition of a police state that will make Nazi Germany look like a fucking paradise. Naturally, I hope for the former and am presently preparing myself for the coming chaos.

    In the meantime, expect all sorts of crazy shit to occur – expect to see regular people (who have been screwed out of jobs and left neck deep in debt) to take up arms and start expropriating the wealth of the elite by force, SWAT teams gunning down protestors in the streets (no more batons and tear gas, just a hail of hot lead), declaration of martial “law” (read: the government formally declares war on the general public) and the emergence of guerilla cells (composed of a mish-mash of ideologies that have not been represented in Congress whatsoever) all over the country. In other words, expect a goddamn warzone.

    I have given up of the U.S. – my concern is to fight for control of what comes next…

  4. “expect to see regular people (who have been screwed out of jobs and left neck deep in debt) to take up arms and start expropriating the wealth of the elite by force”

    I had a history professor who once told me, “Will, remember – if you’re going to be an historian, you have to take a long-term view. When it comes to people, however, you have to take a very short-term view – because most people can’t think past their noses; most have a short memory, and few have an education.”

    It took me a while to really process that comment, but he was right.

    Things have a habit of sorting themselves out – not because we humans are necessarily grand creatures with vision and problem-solving ability; in point of fact our history proves we suck at both of those activities (with a few glimmers every now and again to make it interesting for those who actually write the histories and examine our past) – it’s because our one real motivating force is a desire for routine and stability.

    In other words, we’re going to willingly set ourselves up for whatever makes it possible for us to live life and not have to think. (This, by the way, is why I’ve said that in any sane world, the perpetrators of this mess would all be hanging in iron cages at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in New York; the mansions of the elite from the Hamptons to Laguna Niguel would be torched to the ground by howling mobs of 99’ers – but again; we Americans tend not to operate that way. It’ll take more than what we’re suffering right now to make that happen – and the core of my piece, above, was the extended parlor-game of wondering ‘when; and how much’).

    The thinkers among us have always been in a minority. It’s a guarantee that we’ll be shouted-down when we rail against the evils of religion, Fascism, or any other form of ultra Right control (at this point, I’ll state that there are a also very small handful of thinking-conservatives who are concerned about a move too far to the Left; they’re not getting much press, because the danger isn’t terribly real as the genuine Left ceased to exist in any practical form over thirty years ago).

    When it comes to people, however, I take a very short-term view, as my professor advised – this is where history gets interesting, because the average person detests their own past; it’s complex, it’s difficult to understand, and it’s boring to most of them.

    Understanding the past, however, is the best way to get a good idea of the future. I’ll agree with you on this – our short term future sucks for certain (and probably the long-term as well, barring a miracle). Balkanization is probably the kindest thing which could happen – but as religious Fundamentalism is sweeping the world right now (with the exception of the aforementioned minority of thinkers), it’s a safe bet that things will continue their drift in that direction – and humanity seems bent on it, because things are peaceful, stable, and ordered when religion runs the show – there’s just no freedom of thought, movement, or action – and we humans appear (historically) to be all right with that, too.

    The Enlightenment is gone, for all practical purposes; in at least one state here in America, Jefferson has been rendered a non-person (unless the people who rewrote the textbooks want to put some words in his mouth); he’s a convenient puppet now for the Theocrats; the real teeth of his writing and vision are now safely on the shelf.

    We have several candidates for the nation’s highest office who are Theocrats – Bachmann is just the most-egregious example of this lunacy. Again, the thing you should be doing here is looking at the majority who seem to, if not support, at least be willing to go along with this line of thought – and again, it’s not because it’s good for America or the world; it’s because it promises to grant security, stability, peace and order to things.

    Personally, I never thought I’d see the day when a candidate for President made the statement that we should turn the nation’s government over to people who looked only to a disembodied deity in order to ‘heal the land’ – but that day is here, the time is now, and the people appear ready to do exactly that.

    Against their Imaginary Friend and his new brand of supporters, there is no argument. Their Sky-Guy’s words can only be interpreted by them, and he makes up the rules as he goes along – this kind of circular ‘logic’ can’t be countered; the normal rules of logic and reason don’t apply. They promise a sort of 1955-America when there was doo-wop and full employment – and most people seem happy with the notion.

    Against that, ‘fighting for control of what’s next’ is absurd.

    Take care of yourself. Vote for sanity. Don’t count on much of that, however – it’s not the way to bet.

    -W

  5. @ W.D. Noble,

    I have similar concerns – not concerning who gets into office (politicians, regardless of part afiliation or espoused ideology, are just empty suits that excel at only one thing – taking bribes for favors), but rather the willingness of the average person to just go with whatever nonsense pours out of the corridors of powers (this talk of “god” or “national security” or the”greater good” or whatever other bullshit happens to be popular at any given time…). However, this kind of propaganda only has power when the common man’s basic needs are met: at the rate unemployment is climbing and wages are dropping (not to mention the disappearing social safety net…) people are going to lose faith in the system sooner or later – just as people lost hope in the Roman empire once it no longer had the means to continue with the bread and circuses, so too will people lose hope in America once they see the dream is dead.

  6. “people are going to lose faith in the system sooner or later“

    Safety-nets are ‘cheap’ programs – something which the myopic-types in the Republican party have yet to learn; the money (unlike ‘bailouts’) winds up right back in the economy; the benefits are immediate (it prevents nasty things like civil unrest and outright revolution.)

    This is what’s likely holding America together – but the Republicans appear to be bent on destroying what little is left of the social-fabric by way of cutting off what they persist in calling ‘entitlements’.

    Nearly a third of the workforce is now comprised of ‘contractors’ (that’s a fancy way of saying that an employee now has to fend for him or herself, absent any safety-net whatsoever); about 20% are unemployed when you add everything up, and the rest are scared to death.

    I’ve studied enough history to know that this is no way to run a country – unless you want to use that massive military we’ve built up to keep everyone in line.

    None of us are any more than a stray comment from getting a couple of Taser prongs in our hide and a quick trip to jail. The Posse Comitatus Act (which precludes using the military against civilians) has been neatly co-opted by allowing city/county/state police-forces to acquire everything from advanced small-arms to armed-helicopters and tanks.

    We agree on this – it’s going to get ugly here, and fast.

    -W

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