mercredi 25 janvier 2012

After the Vacation

Back to work...

Vacations are fun. You leave everything behind and then come back with the view of life anew. Everything will come out great. You're batteries are charged and the world is off to a fresh start.

Then, of course you get back. After the Christmas break, it's even worse. Christmas is fun, no doubt, but what with the excitement of shopping, wrapping presents, seeing them ripped open in the blink of an eye, seeing parents cousins in-laws, eating tremendous amounts of food, and then starting all over again a week later with the New Year, it is easy to realize that the Christmas break is the one break you come out of more exhausted then when you went in!

Coming back though let you start afresh, and the best way to start is to tally up the last year. 2001 was an interesting year. The high water mark of the Tea Party, the Occupy movements, the Indignados in Spain, the Greek revolt and the British riots are all huge signs telling the elites that they have gone too far. Some countries have taken matters into their own hands. Iceland has told the IMF and the European Central Bank to go climb a tree (which, in Iceland, would take some doing, as there are no trees). They then indicted their top bankers and rewrote their constitution - online. Argentina, I hear, did something similar, and while thing are far from perfect, their economy is booming. Whereas the rest of the world is staying the course, maintaining austerity policies - and seeing their economies tank.

Jobs (Steve) and remembrance

Steve Jobs' death is somewhat symbolic in that he was the last entrepreneur (Gates has retired and the rest of manufacturing are held by corporate entities). He actually wanted to make things that would change the way people interact. and he did it. He was willing to risk his shirt and even lost it at times but always came back up, dukes in the air and ready to take on the next fight. No single person did more to make a computer personal. Now he's gone and we're left with a bunch greedy morons who haven't figured out that if the bottom line represents only money, they have created nothing but extensive arithmetics.

2011 should have trundled out a long lists of commemorations, but that didn't happen.

2011 is a decade mark for the the two most defining wars in American history.

It was the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (or the War between the States, or the War of Secession, depending on who's talking). That war essentially changed how the United States defined itself as a nation. The term United States went from being a plural subject to a singular subject. We say 'the United States is the last Super power'

2011 is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into World War II. Good or ill, it forced the United States to state that fascism (and not communism) was the greater threat to freedom. The fall out of the war was a restructuring of the World's political and economic structure, creating the most stable and vibrant society in centuries.

The only commemoration we did discuss was the tenth anniversary of the fall of the twin towers. It is interesting to compare how we reacted to both attacks. In 1941, America went to war, but not with out raising the sunken ships and realigning the entire society for a long hard war. In 2001, we sent a few battalions and put the entire invasion on a credit card. And Ground Zero is still a hole in the ground today.

In the week of 9/11, or, if you will, 9/11/11. Time magazine devoted an entire edition to the event. The most startling article was the closing editorial that chanted 'nothing has changed'. This, in and of itself is a surprising statement. The first thing that 9/11 proved was that the US security system is so dysfunctional that the government can't get the various agencies to work in concert, and therefore felt the need to create yet another agency, the Department of Homeland Security. We are so constantly subject to unwarranted searches that we don't even notice them. for now, all we have to do is take of our shoes in the airport. I'm waiting to find out when we'll have to strip naked to buy a postage stamp.

While waiting, Obama just signed into law the permission to use the army to clamp down on terrorism at home and indefinitely detain US citizens without charge. Indeed hardly anything has changed. We just trashed the very meaning of the US Constitution and have paved the way for a military dictatorship, but that is only consequential.

The other comparison is how well organized we were for World War II and how badly the War on terrorism has been botched. Eighteen months after entering, America had stopped Japanese expansion at Midway AND established an effective foothold in North Africa, launching the invasion of Italy.

After ten years  the two official wars (well as close as we will ever get. Congress needs the threat of a filibuster in order to decide to pee;I shutter to think of the covert operations we are undertaking) have all but hijacked our system of government. We entered the war without an objective - the proof of which being that the ostensible objective, the elimination of Ben Ladden (and that took seven years) has done nothing to change the course of the war. The troops we sent over there were ill equipped and ill prepared to fight such a war, and the home front was ostensibly shut out from any real participation. The public has been asked to go on with business as usual, which basically amounted to spending with reckless abandon.

Thrift and the deficit

We have conveniently forgotten the meaning of the word thrift or effort. I'd like to remind the few of you who are still reading that when Clinton left office, our budget showed a surplus. By the time the Twin Towers were hit, our new President had turned that surplus into a deficit that profited nobody except a few of his cronies. It is surprising to note that I have never read, seen or heard any one ask this annoying question: how are we going to pay for the invasion of Afghanistan?

After eight years of reckless abandon, our banks finally imploded. Our new President, it turns out, had the right idea, was given an overwhelming mandate to put that idea into practice and then was torpedoed by his own team. With political friends like that, who needs enemies? They liked the 'bail out the banks' idea, but somehow never managed the pesky problem of making the banks do their jobs. We bailed out these afore mentioned banks with almost three quarters of a billion dollars (gee where did that come from?) with no strings attached.  And now our monument to LaLa Land Journalism, Time magazine is asking why the banks are still not doing there job? Well, who told them to?

And so of course, there is the new deficit to think about. This of course drive me to a dither. As a unionist, I always come up against the same answer: the deficit. Whenever I talk to anybody about doing something to raise wages, improve working conditions, or just simply make sure we can take our vacation next year I hear a long sigh followed, by 'yes, but there's the deficit'. There's no money so we don't have a prayer. Perhaps, but remember that for the last forty years we have almost incessantly reduced public income and expanded public expense, and most interestingly not for public needs. The corporate elites get great break when they jet set around the country (of course it makes a lot of sense to travel in jets. No one with an ounce of sanity would use our roads!)

So while you spend your time wondering why you can't pay the rent or get a better job, because that will ony happen with the Second Coming, let me at least wish you all a Happy New Year...