In a recent conversation, we began talking about politics. I’m a registered Independent, and she’s a registered Democrat, though i think she’s probably really an Independent too, she just hasn’t changed the paperwork. She shared her perspectives on our current elections and the candidates, and why the surface of things isn’t always what we ought to be looking at. Nor should we turn a blind eye to making decisions we didn’t think we’d make, just because it’s associated with a party we always vote for. Her insight was, as always, edifying, and I felt, also important for people to have access to. So this is the content of what we discussed, along with some research and knowledge of my own.
Here’s the very definition of a vicious cycle:
John Q. Public struggles to make ends meet, especially since the housing market has crashed, and his mortgage is so expensive. He loses his job again, and thank god he can go to the pawn shop and the check cashers loan place to get by until he’s employed again.
But when John goes to the check cashing place, he finds that they are going out of business and can’t rewrite the loan because it’s now been made non-lucrative by recent legislation for these busineses to operate. He finds the same problem with the pawn shop. This new legislation was ostensibly created to help the average person, but it accomplishes the opposite by hyperfocusing on the supposed unfairness of the business, when it is that business that was keeping many Americans afloat. Are we to also pretend that these check-loan and pawn shop places are not supposed to profit? Isn’t that what business is about?
So, John Q. goes home despondent because he doesn’t know where he’s going to get the money to survive. And this is what no one talks about.
Now, the same thing is happening to other John and Jane Q.’s, and they might be in more dire financial shape than the first one. They might be willing to do something drastic to support their families. Let’s call one of them Michael Q. Public. Michael Q. has become so desperate that decides he needs to do some breaking and entering to get some money. He already knows the pawn shops aren’t buying because of other recent legislation, and so he can no longer find things of value to sell, and must go for the cash. He breaks into John Q.’s house, and when John Q. hears something and comes down to check it out, he is confronted by this desperate Michael Q. Michael then demands money and John says he doesn’t have any cash in the house. So Michael takes him hostage, making him drive to the ATM so he can withdraw money to give to Michael. Then, of course, he’s been seen, and so he has to kill John, because he doesn’t want any witnesses. No one talks about this.
So, while John’s family is learning that their beloved husband and father has just been killed, Michael continues his crime spree, because now, he has nothing to lose. He is eventually recruited by a drug dealer, because he is told he can make guaranteed income. This is also the appeal to Michael’s younger brother, who would rather join him in that business, than flip burgers at McDonald’s for minimum wage. And this is also what no one talks about.
Mrs. John Q., meanwhile, is dealing with overwhelming grief and financial devastation, and can’t file bankruptcy because she and her husband had to do that five years ago during another of his layoffs. She has no hope of paying the mortgage, and she and her children are either homeless, or forced to move in with her mother. And this is what no one talks about.
Down the street from Mrs. John Q. Public (widow), resides Sally Q. Public, a single woman in her 30′s. She has been offered a job in another state, and has to take it, because she fears she is about to lose her job at the bank, and she only has her own income to depend on. Since there’s a crunch in defaulted loans, many banks are closing, and the work grapevine has informed her that her boss is about to hire a bi-lingual employee to take her place, since bank employees are now required to be bi-lingual. The new hire is also willing to take less pay. So with joblessness looming, she had to put her house on the market in anticipation of her move to another state for a different job.
Sally Q. doesn’t have much time left, and must sell her home, or lose her new job opportunity, while also losing her previous one. She has had a slew of potential buyers, but none of them will offer her a fair price. They all want to pay $70k for her $150k house. Then, she receives an offer from an African American couple, who will pay $100k. She feels this is her best chance to sell and get herself relocated and re-employed. But her neighbors have begun to complain to her that she is selling to a minority, and it will drive their property values even farther down, and they want her to hold out for a “white” couple. She simply can’t afford to care. On a larger scale, Sally understands this is what will happen in America with business too. Businesses may not want to sell to that Saudi investor, but they have to accept the price he’s offering, as the business is going under. And this is what no one talks about.
Added to this circuitous but firmly connected set of realities, is the ongoing news from the medical community that most people can expect to live to well past the age of 100, and that those in their mid-thirties might even reach 150. According to a special report by Barbara Walters* we are all living longer. I was surprised to learn that there are currently over 84,000 centenarians in the United States, and that by the time the Baby Booomer generation reaches that age, there will be over a million.
Sounds hopeful. Especially to someone like me who always feels there will never be enough days in my life to accommodate all I want to do and learn experience. But there’s a dark side.
When the Social Security system was set up, men were living into their 70′s and women to their 80′s; now they live into 80′s and 90′s, respectively. The Social Security our mothers were depending on is being spread very thin, already. And much of it is now going to the immigrants programs, which means people in that age-group will vote for McCain, because Republicans are notorious for allowing and encouraging thriving business, and for giving businesses tax breaks because they take on the liability of all those who don’t own one. And these businesses have the pensions that senior citizens depend on. If the businesses go under, however, those pensions and health care and Social Security goes under too. The Democrats, meanwhile, are notorious for pushing all the social help programs that undermine the Social Security system. Our grandparents and elderly parents and friends and siblings will be rendered destitute if they even dare vote democratic. Voting republican for them, is a matter of financial survival.
My friend Justice Harlow says, “I own some stocks, but I’m not rich. The companies that I invest in are owned by Republicans. Do I want to take money away from big business and republicans when that means I will lose everything–my 401k will be worthless because stocks will fall? And I’m not even a Republican. But I might be switching parties if this continues. Your 401k is not in ‘Johnny’s Quick Stop’ down the street. It’s in big oil and Google, and pharmaceuticals, and other big businesses.”
When all the bleeding heart liberals out there succeed in undermining every support for business, then all the Greenpeacers and ecological militants will be very happy, Harlow says, “Everything will be green because all that will be left is grass.”
On a personal note, If the guy who owns the house I live in, who’s a business owner a builder, goes under, I might be living in my car. It’s biting the hand that feeds me, to encourage or otherwise support restrictions on Big Business. Harlow elaborates, “If you don’t own a company that employs you, it implies that someone else owns it. If you don’t kill the cow that made the steak you eat for dinner, then that implies someone else raised it, killed it, and sent the meat to market. Down with big business, means you don’t eat, and you don’t have a place to live. Businesses don’t employ you because they think you’re a lovely person, they are in it to make money. They need those tax breaks and incentives.”
She gave a further example of the Nissan plant in the delta of Grenada, MS which created 5000 jobs that was instrumental in getting all those folks out of the welfare system. Those people were able to buy homes and cars, and become consumers, and that helped the economy and many more things, all the way down to better roads. “The Republicans are the ones who want to help business, ” Harlow says. “The Democrats want to cut all that out and give it to people who don’t work.” Further, she added another metaphor to the equation: “If a cat comes to your door and cries, and you feed it, it comes back every day to eat. And if you move away, the cat might die. But more likely, it will catch field mice and rabbits and rummage through trash–do whatever it had to do to survive. Likewise, if welfare women couldn’t refer to their newborns as ‘another check’ and were instead forced to work for a living, the problems this creates would dissipate.”
I agree, that the survival instinct is pretty strong. And we ought to be calling on that part of our humanity, rather than the newly evolved instinct to freeload. The ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ used to be the poor and the rich. Now it’s the ‘haves and haves,’ and the have-nots are in the middle–the middle class.
This leads me to one of my most cogent and shocking personal conclusions. McCain may be stupid about the war and stupid about the economy, but if he’s in office, the Republican Machine will still operate all around him, and this will keep big business alive and keep us, by extension, able to live our lives without fear of losing our livelihoods, our health care, our homes, and our sanity.
Instead, what we see happening now is the outsourcing of jobs, ill-conceived trade paradigms, and an immigration policy that has served only to destroy our economy, the job-market, and our Social Security System. The murmurs of “recession” are incorrect, in my mind. I not only think we are firmly entrenched in recession right now, but I think we’re headed for a full-fledged Depression. And this leads to even more failure in a chain of events predicated on one-dimensional, surface-thinking.
We stand a very real chance of being bought out by other countries. As Harlow reminded me: “Just like the Indians bought up London in the 70′s, they’ll do that here, because our dollar is becoming worthless. Now rich Middle Eastern businessmen take over our trade routes, and our major companies. They will have dual citizenships, and be able to vote.” This takeover, Harlow believes, as do I, will be in the financial and investment sector, and–frighteningly–in government. This is also what no one talks about. Terrorism from within. Recall the old caveat, A House divided against itself will fall ?
So this vicious cycle is something no one talks about. But our silence, in this case, really does equal death. Before long, desperation will be the order of the day and we will no longer be a country of, for, and by the people, but a country of, for, and by the whim of other wiser governments who also have the resources to do whatever they please.
Forget about the global climate change, an asteroid hitting the earth, Old Faithful in Yellowstone erupting, a terrorist attack, or even nuclear war. America will be destroyed from within by its own policies and its own inability to do what needs to be done for fear of stepping on some toes and hurting some feelings.
Good luck with that.