Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Insanity By Any Other Name...

It's now the 4th quarter of the 10th year beginning with 2000 and I'm writing this because so much of what is going on in the world, and particularly in this country, makes me question my own sanity. Yes, it has been a while since the last post but that had more to do with a wait-n-see attitude than anything else. I wanted to wait and see if the election of this nation's first Black President and a majority for his party in both Houses of Congress was going to make a difference. My conclusion: Yes, it has. But not the way I hoped...

While the rest of the world has reacted as I believed they would in seeing the Obama election as a positive signal after 8 years of the most negative, polarizing administration since Woodrow Wilson, the change in the US of A has been discouraging to say the least and frightening to say the most. Racism has roared back to the front in levels unseen since the 60's at the height of the Civil Rights movement. For 40 years it had been more or less resigned to an underground, mostly off-the-radar status, that occasionally flared up in cases like the Rodney King beating, the Amadou Diallo killing, the James Byrd Jr. dragging murder, or the Sean Bell killing, but now it has gathered itself and risen like a mangy, rabid rottweiler ready to attack.

However, this time it seems to have decided that it can play directly in the sunlight and out of the shadows going openly after any and every thing that looks like it might benefit people of color: healthcare reform, gun control, border stabilization, and blue collar jobs. Using fear of becoming a minority as its rationale to keep ordinarily good men and women of European ethnicity from opposing and relegating it back to the shadows, there is more than a passing nod to the limbaughs, becks, and bachmanns of the world while when it was perfectly permissible to vilify Rev. Jeremiah Wright for his views, nothing is being said about an Arizona crazy church where the pastor preaches vile and despicable hatred for Obama.

Here's the rub. This time the overt racism is being handled like a precision instrument that has the power to inflict blunt force trauma. The Rupert Murdochs, the Goldman Sachs, the Morgan Stanleys, the Exxon Mobils, and the like have decided that this is the best smokescreen that they could ever have to keep the masses from recognizing that the real problem isn't the color of anyone's skin but the fact that some 3-4% of the population is controlling 90% of the wealth while the other 96-97% of us scramble over something less than 10%. Racism has the irrational effect of blinding people to the facts. Its very nature is predicated on ignoring the obvious and proceeding to the stereotypes. And that's what makes today's version so much more insidious because while it has always been an evil tool borne out of fear, that fear used to be genuinely spawned out of ignorance. Today, those who wield it, not only know better, but would do so with full knowledge of the catastrophic effects on our society, and all simply because of greed.

So, we have democrats as well as republiklans involved is this great morality play that is geared to somehow make us believe that there continues to be a "debate" over moral issues when all evidence points to the central theme being played out as "haves" vs. "have nots". Why else would Wall Street get away with hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars with no strings attached and precious little oversight while many more hundreds of thousands of jobs related to the automobile industry are allowed to disappear as lawmakers quibble about a few "measly" billion dollars (some 31B)? And why else could a Dept. of Transportation figure out that 3 Billion dollars could come very close to rescuing the auto industry by putting that money directly between the consumer and the industry but that kind of thinking somehow eluded the Dept. of Commerce and the rest of the administration?

And in this, Mr. President Obama, even you have fallen prey to the fallacy of the economic policies adhered to by your chief fiscal advisers who all subscribe to the generally unmerited theories of Milton Friedman and the U. of Chicago. They're dead wrong because nothing has ever proven to be able to police itself. It's simply mankind's nature to need controls and yet Friedman's standing principle is on the market's ability to do just that. You said, Bro. Barack, that 'we couldn't stand by and let the financial system fail' and you also said that 'we don't want to see our friends and neighbors who work for the health insurance companies lose their jobs'. Well, I believe you to be wrong on both accounts and here's the irony -- because both of those statements violate the theory that you were educated under.

If the market truly works, then businesses must be allowed to fail to show that the system can work and correct itself. And further, in the case of health insurers, those that bring no intrinsic value to a process should be eliminated. We need a new system and a new process as we're already seeing a fresh influx of greed on Wall St while unemployment reaches unprecedented numbers. Not because of the percentages but because of the size of the population. With over 300M people, a 10% unemployment figure represents the highest number of total people ever not working in this country!

So all of this brings me to the title of this missive. Every major society of the recorded and studied periods of history all failed because they allowed the decadence of greed to foster an environment of the rich few to lead lives of debauchery (Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, etc.) while the masses groaned under the weight of oppression. There's a very old adage that simply says, 'those who ignore the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them' which can today be coupled with the new popular definition of insanity: 'doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result"...

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