The LuLac Edition #597 Oct. 10th, 2008
PHOTO INDEX: BLOG EDITOR AT THE TERMINAL.
FROM MY DESK
AMERICA THE PLACID
What has struck me about the most recent financial developments in this country is how calm Americans seem to be about all of this. I know that I grew up in the 60s where there were protests about the war, civil rights and poverty. In the 70s, the Nixon administration was regularly picketed for its attempted stealing of the Constitution. These issues were abstract ones that while they concerned us, were essentially no threat to our economic livelihood.
But this crisis where homes are at stake, retirement earnings (money that was put aside by hard working Americans who played by the rules) and the survival of our country as a superpower is in the balance, no one seems to be excited or bothered. A doctor I know said he took a beating on the market and will be working until he’s 80. Another man of means shrugged his shoulders when he told me he lost half of his retirement. It might be that I don’t have much, but if I had that amount of money tied up, I’d be going wild about now.
Our country has seemed to be in a haze since the 90s. Lulled by the prosperity of the Clinton years and the mantra that “You Could Have It All”, Americans set out to get it all. American business, now buttressed by the stock market was only too happy to provide the better life, at three or four times the profit that business in the 50s offered it. And we grabbed for that brass ring. Everybody, for a time was happy. The people who overreached did it with credit, not equity. The businesses who sold it to them, gave them the easy credit didn’t do it in an altruistic manner. With every line of credit, you, the consumer paid for it with higher rates. But no one cared because it was a few extra bucks a month. But then the gas prices rose. Then things got tight. And let’s not forget about the war. Billions a month in a lost cause but God forbid if you said it was the wrong war at the wrong time because then you were labeled unpatriotic. The war muzzled us for any type of meaningful protest. 911 was not a rallying cry for defending freedom and our nation but a warning to “keep your head down, shut your mouth and we’ll take care of your civil liberties”.
Things are falling apart but no one is screaming. The Presidential campaign has produced two fine men who are playing it safe. No one dares to say that this is a problem that will take generations to fix. Obama talks about health care for “the folks” but like the last Democratic President, Bill Clinton, he won’t have the discretionary money for any social program no matter what he cuts. And John McCain tells us, “his friends” that he can fix things through bi partisan leadership and his ability to be a maverick. But he has not been a maverick when its come to the middle class. The record shows that. The campaign has become a series of sound bites that have degenerated into calling Obama a terrorist because of his passing association with a weather underground member and questioning John McCain’s fitness to hold office at his age as well as his erratic focusing on the economic issues. There has to be more than this discourse but there won’t be. The reason why is the candidates know in their heart of hearts that they can’t fix this overnight. In the back of their minds they might know whoever wins might be a one term President if he chooses to do the right thing. The campaign has become a reflection of the American people’s attitude toward its government during the last 15 years. Don’t challenge me to actually do something patriotic. Just tell me things will be fine and let me have my SUV, my overpriced house I can’t afford, my weekend dinners at Olive Garden and my NFL on Sundays. Somebody needs to start telling the hard truth. This generation, the grandsons and granddaughters of “The Greatest Generation” have to face the facts: the party’s over and no one is going to bail YOU out except for YOU. There has to be outrage over the fact that business essentially screwed over the Middle Class in this country. There has to be a demand that the swindlers and the greed merchants pay. There has to be a protest, an accounting. It might come on election day, or it might come when the hard reality of job loss, loan restrictions and real hard times beset the American people. For now, there is a “silent scream”. It must get louder….or else the same institutions that have harmed us recently will do so again. With impunity. You can bank on that!