Monthly Archives: September 2012

"Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils"

Fall, the lovely traitor,  with its brilliant colors and crisp air, tempting me to shuffle through piles of rustling leaves, always lifts my spirits, only to deposit me in the long, dark winter. I always forgive Fall. My body is programmed to experience Fall as a season of beginnings. This could have to do with the fact that I spent almost my entire life going to school, first as a student, then as a teacher. Since the school year starts in September for me each year begins in September. I get that gut-wrenching mix of excitement and anxious anticipation still, even though, for this part of my life I no longer arrive at a school in September. However, being a devotee of beauty, the excitement does not go to waste because the colors and the freshness of the air seldom disappoint.

This is the tree at the side of my old farmhouse. Its leaves have turned russet earlier than most of the trees in my neighborhood. I recently learned that my beloved tree is a “bad” tree. It is a Norway maple. Norway maples produce a prodigious number of seeds. This maple variety is therefore taking over our forests and choking out other trees including the desireable Sugar maple. In fact my tree has been “banned”, poor thing and can no longer be sold at local nurseries. Still, I love my tree. Even a “bad” tree is better than no tree. On the day I saw my Norway maple I had a terrible feeling that I would somehow lose it. It is an old tree. I thought someone might consider it in danger of being uprooted in a storm. Now that I have been told that it is a “banned” tree I hope they don’t make me take it down. Although it was planted by the village and is on village land, apparently I, as homeowner, would have to pay to have it removed. That would be really rude and quite impossible for my budget at the current moment. Hopefully my tree will be “grandfathered in” and I will get to enjoy my “bad” tree for many years. However, it is ironic that, just as I have come to treasure it, its future is in jeopardy.

                                                  “If you would ever leave me it could not be in Autumn.
                                                   Seeing you in Autumn you never should go.”  (loosely from Camelot)

                                                   (Yikes, pretty corny, huh?  But I would mourn the absence of my tree)

Mission to Paris by Alan Furst – Book

Alan Furst, says the book jacket of his newest book, Mission to Paris, is “widely recognized as the master of the historical spy novel.” What we have here is a suave, elegant spy novel; not an action-filled modern car or plane chase in sight. When Austrian born actor Frederic Stahl is sent by his studio, Warner Brothers in Hollywood, to Paris to make a movie for Paramount France called Après la Guerre, he doesn’t really want to go. It is 1938 and Hitler is already marching his bully march all over the face of Europe. However, after making a gentlemanly escape from a married lady with a drunken husband on the ship  from America, he arrives in Paris to take up residence at the Claridge Hotel (not his usual choice, but still very grand).
Paris is, of course, beautiful and Frederic Stahl once lived in Paris so he knows it very well. He runs into Moppi, an old, but awkwardly gauche acquaintance who tries to bribe him to throw in his lot with the Germans who are hanging around France making life uncomfortable for everyone. France is not yet at war with Hitler, but it is a very near thing and the tension between the Germans and the Parisians is making Paris far less pleasant than usual. Mr. Stahl is in Paris to work, however, so he immerses himself in learning the lines for the film. Filming does not go smoothly at first and Stahl finds himself with time on his hands, but the Germans in Paris won’t leave him alone and keep trying to bind him, with his Austrian roots, to their side. They do not try to lure him with praise or women, wine and song. They try to ferret out any questionable behavior on his part in order to blackmail him. Fortunately there is little to find.
Eventually the director and the other actors arrive on the scene and the film gets rolling. Frederic gets involved with a chic Parisienne named Kiki de Saint-Ange and he is quite busy. Although he forgets the call to espionage for a while he eventually chooses a side and agrees to judge a film festival in Berlin so he can complete a secret war task for J.J. Wilkinson of the American Embassy. Thus begins Frederic’s life as a spy. In the middle of making his movie and spying for his country Stahl also falls in love, and not with the sophisticated Kiki. When the movie has to go to a castle in Hungary for some of the filming, Frederic comes face to face with the seriousness of Hitler’s quest to rule all of Europe and then perhaps the world. Of course, I cannot tell you the ending, but you surely already realize that Frederic Stahl was an accidental spy, as opposed to one trained in espionage.
I do like to read novels set in Paris, so Mr. Furst’s book had this in its favor. I also like spy stories. And Mr. Stahl makes a very manly spy. Furst tells us this, “Stahl had brought his favorite sweater to Paris, very soft wool, in horizontal gray and black bands, which hung loose from his shoulders. This he wore, along with chocolate corduroy trousers, some cedar-smelling cologne – not too much! – then put on his belted raincoat and found his umbrella.” I don’t ever remember reading such a careful description of how a man is dressed in a spy novel before but then Frederic is on his way to a real date with the object of his affections. If you enjoy cerebral spy stories played out in a time of great danger and deadly intent in the beautiful city of Paris at a time when war trumped beauty (and who wouldn’t?), you will like Mission to Paris.

Agenda 21 and Microapartments

I am thinking that I might have to give Agenda 21 a bit more of my attention. Agenda 21 is the result of a United Nations conference held in 1992. The actual Agenda 21 document is available on the internet as a PDF. It is about 350 pages long but if you read over the 40 chapter headings you will get the drift. I have written about Agenda 21 before, notably during “paranoia week”. Conspiracy theorists call Agenda 21 a “plot for global domination and forced environmentalism.” The word “sustainability” as in a sustainable life on this planet is the “code” word in Agenda 21 (agenda for the 21st century).  Conspiracy theorists are also called Agenders. They say that if you start hearing suggestions like roof top urban gardens and bike paths, capturing and reusing rainwater, and ideas for improving sustainability (of water, air, soil, trees, etc) then you are being steered by UN agenda 21.
Another facet of Agenda 21 is a recommendation that governments move in the direction of high density housing in urban areas. This week we learned that San Francisco is building micro-apartments which require tenants to live in about 230 square feet. Looking around the internet it seems that Mayor Bloomberg in NYC asked architects to design apartments in the Kip’s Bay area with floor plans between 200 and 300 square feet. These mini apartments are already being built and in fact people are already living in these tiny spaces. After all, there are 7 billion people on the planet. We should be in favor of plans that will sustain the earth’s resources.
So when my local community says that they do not intend to extend infrastructure into new areas for developers, when they limit development to infilling areas that already have infrastructure like water and sewers and roads sufficient to handle increased traffic and so on, this is something we should be in favor of. If would seem to be more realistic in terms of our current economic restraints. However, it becomes unpalatable if it is part of some overall plan to which our local, state, and federal governments have agreed without our knowledge.  The idea that someone may be pulling strings from behind the scenes and manipulating us to conform to an agenda that has been kept on the “down low” rubs our American souls the wrong way. We like to have problems explained to us in clear terms, we like to have input into the solutions that are decided upon, and then we like to have a role in the implementation of any plans for the future. What bothers us most about this “sustainability movement” is that someone may be moving us around like pawns on a giant chess board. This we would find very unacceptable, if it turns out to be true.
Here’s where we point a finger at each of our eyes, adopt a threatening stare, and then point those same two fingers at your eyes. We’re watching you!

Voting – A Moral Imperative

Greece was a democracy. Rome was a republic (also a form of democracy) which gave the vote to citizens of Rome. Even India is noted for having an early democratic form of government. Then democracy disappeared from the face of the earth for centuries. There were kings, there were queens, there were emperors and pharaohs, chieftains and popes. Almost every nation had one form of authoritarian government or another. People, ordinary people like you and me, were subjects. Our ruler may have been enlightened or frightening, greedy or benevolent; it did not matter what the nature of the ruler was, subjects had to do as they were told. Lots of people languished in prisons without ever being charged with a crime. Even subjects caught for crimes that seem relatively minor today were sometimes hung or severely punished. Life was hard and people longed for freedom. They longed for dignity. They longed to have an opportunity to be prosperous.
Sometimes we have to remember the past to realize how lucky we are to live in a free and enlightened nation like America in the 21st century. We take our freedoms for granted. We are upset when our government seems to withdraw or limit any of our freedoms. People are angry with the number of new laws that are passed to keep us safe from ourselves, rules about restraints in vehicles, rules about foods, rules about smoking and drinking, and rules about texting and talking on the phone in the car.  Where will it end we ask?
We must admit, however, that there are certain rights that are fiercely defended even in these “nanny state” days. We still zealously defend our right to free speech, even though we would sometimes prefer not to honor the same right for others. Our government does not usually arrest us for our opinions unless there is a perceived threat of violent action in there somewhere. We strongly defend our right to bear arms and so far our government has bent over backwards to keep even assault weapons generally available in response to the hue and cry of gun proponents.
The one right we do not defend quite as strongly is our right to vote. Even though this is a right that is not enjoyed by people in many places around the globe we find reasons to avoid voting. We say we are frustrated that nothing ever changes. We say that our one small vote can’t really make a difference. We argue that the Electoral College really elects the president, that this is anti-American and elitist and therefore we refuse to vote in protest. Even worse, we just can’t be bothered. Our forefathers allowed only property owners to vote. As recently as the 1950’s some Americans were not allowed to vote or were subjected to such strict voter poll requirements that they found it impossible to qualify to vote. Republicans are passing laws in a number of states this year, in 2012, that require things like a photo ID to vote, things which are difficult for some Americans to get because of costs or transportation needs, or lack of a birth certificate (which is often lost).
With voter rights once again being challenged, this time in the name of “voter fraud”, it is more important than ever to vote. If you don’t exercise your right to vote (a right people are dying for) then you have no right to complain about our government. It is not just your right to vote in a democracy; it is your hard-won duty to exercise your right to vote. It would be wrong to suggest that people just winning their voting rights through demonstrations and even wars are winning something that is not worth having once it is won. It is essential to vote, especially in this year when America is choosing whether it wants to be a business (Republicans) or whether our America will fulfill our social agenda in the context of balanced budgets (Democrats). This year our election involves a real choice and it is a very close election.
Vote! Voting is a privilege that is not shared by all the peoples around the world. If you are lucky enough to live in a nation where you can vote in a legitimate election then you really need to exercise your right to vote. Vote! Don’t forget; don’t be too busy; don’t be too disillusioned; don’t let them stop you with voter ID laws. Vote! (But only once, please.) No matter who tries to influence your vote and no matter how hard they try, you cannot be forced to vote for a particular person. You still get to choose who you want to vote for. Vote!

Bait and Switch? (The 2012 Election)

What if Obama is elected in 2012 and the Republicans still block him from pursuing his political agenda, the newscasters ask. Are they implying that if we want any movement in Washington we had better pick Mitt Romney? Are they trying to make Obama look weak? Are they disparaging his schmoozing abilities once again?
Suppose we don’t like what Mitt Romney’s party stands for? Should we elect him anyway? Is movement in the “wrong” direction better than no movement at all? Politicians who disagree with each other, who have different platforms, are not interchangeable. Will we be better off with Obama holding the line (as he is now) or with the Republicans pursuing their extremely backward agenda? Suppose Obama’s actual trajectory became by necessity “hold the line” instead of “Foreward.”?
The newscasters’ implications are wrong. We would be better off with Obama even if he couldn’t accomplish one thing than we would if the Republicans are given carte blanche to enact most or all of their agenda. We can’t go where they want us to go without actually going there, and that would be counterproductive. Why would we want an America with:
·         No Social Security
·         No Medicare
·         No Medicaid
·         No Welfare
·         No WIC
·         No Food Stamp
·         No environmental protections
·         No pristine national parks
·         No tax deductions
·         Higher taxes
·         No business regulations
·         No regulations for Wall St.
·         A huge military
·         More wars in the Middle East
·         Energy drilling and mining every where
·         No clean water regulations
·         Returns of acid rains
·         And etc.? (like abandon the progress we have made with women’s health issues)
Republicans sound so reasonable as they repeat their “litany” of how to lure big business back to America over and over again. After we have heard something chanted again and again it strikes us as familiar enough to be true, a sort of mantra. However, the current crop of Republicans are anything but reasonable, what they repeat is no mantra, and all those newscasters are wrong to suggest that we have an either/or choice in this election. What we have is either moderation (Democrats) or nuttiness (Republicans). And what the Republicans are actually boring us with is known as political propaganda with an occasional glimpse behind the curtain. The glimpses are the important part, not the propaganda.
This is a key moment in American politics as we are finally talking about genuine issues that need to be resolved. If only we could reach the point in our dialogue where we were not just repeating two monologues; if only we could sit down at a round table and hammer out a workable compromise, then we might make a strong America to face the global chaos that will precede any worldwide global cooperation. Maybe that’s why we love stories about aliens coming to earth, because we know we would all unite against a common enemy (I have to get space in here somewhere). Right now we need to keep the Republicans away from the oval office and from Congress, if possible.

French Lessons by Ellen Sussman – Book

French Lessons by Ellen Sussman is a novel set in Paris, one of my favorite settings for a story. Three French tutors meet at a café each day when they finish giving individual French lessons to tourists who pay an agency to hire a French tutor. Three tutors, two men, Nico and Phillipe, one woman, Chantel, are involved with each other and this time, unusually, they are also entangled with their students. Each of these stories is an amuse-bouche that is as delicious as any little appetizer you may have enjoyed.

Josie is assigned to Nico and she is a French teacher in America who is in Paris because she doesn’t know what else to do. She has experienced a sorrow in her life, an illicit sorrow that she cannot share with anyone else in her life. She decides to take some French lessons to work on her accent and to get her out of her hotel room. Nico is handsome and young and, although he usually does not flirt with his students, he has some issues on this day also, so he gently flirts with Josie. What does their day bring?
Riley is a disenchanted expat wife with a baby and a toddler. She never sees her husband who is working in Paris. She has not learned to speak the French language and she does not feel the love everyone has for Paris. She signs up for French lessons in a last ditch attempt to bring her life back into balance and she is assigned to Phillipe, handsome and slightly dissolute, but just the ticket for Riley on this particular day. She is falling out of love with her husband and her mom just phoned to say she has cancer. What happens when Riley spends the day with Phillipe?
Jeremy is married to a beautiful movie star and he is in Paris while she makes a movie. He is from California and he restores antiques. He is most at home in his canyon home and his woodworking shop. He feels like a duck out of water in Paris. He knows French but is shy about speaking it. Jeremy spends the day with the lovely Chantel. Chantel is organized and professional. She lives in the city but yearns for a more rural life. These two meet the morning after they each experience a crisis in a personal love-sex relationship. Will they find solace in each other’s company? Will they be unfaithful? What will their day bring?
Just like a buffet of amuses-bouche these stories delight and entertain, and although complex are tasted in a moment with flavors that linger on the tongue.

September, 2012 – Booklist Addendum

Here are some books that were supposed to be on my September booklist that got lost in a notebook. These are recommended by  just about everyone.
Winter of the World by Ken Follett – from the Century Trilogy – Bk. 1 was Fall of Giants – “Ken Follett follows up his #1 New York Times bestseller Fall of Giants with a brilliant, page-turning epic about the heroism and honor of World War II, and the dawn of the atomic age. Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants , the first novel in his extraordinary new historical epic, The Century Trilogy, was an international sensation, acclaimed as “sweeping and fascinating, a book that will consume you for days or weeks” ( USA Today) and “grippingly told and readable to the end” ( The New York Times Book Review )… As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. With passion and the hand of a master, he brings us into a world we thought we knew, but now will never seem the same again.” (card catalogue)

Both Flesh and Not by David Foster Wallace – This is a book of essays by the late David Foster Wallace. I don’t usually read essays, except in magazines, but I was so entranced by David Foster Wallace’s writing in The Pale King that I have to add this to my list. ”Beloved for his epic agony, brilliantly discerning eye, and hilarious and constantly self-questioning tone, David Foster Wallace was heralded by both critics and fans as the voice of a generation. BOTH FLESH AND NOT gathers 15 essays never published in book form, including “Federer Both Flesh and Not,” considered by many to be his nonfiction masterpiece; “The (As it Were) Seminal Importance of Terminator 2 ,” which deftly dissects James Cameron’s blockbuster; and “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young,” an examination of television’s effect on a new generation of writers. A sweeping, exhilarating collection of the author’s most emotionally immediate work, BOTH FLESH AND NOT spans almost 20 years of Wallace’s career and reminds us why A.O. Scott called him “The Best Mind of His Generation” ( New York Times ).” (card catalogue)

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon – “In this novel the author takes us to Telegraph Avenue. It is a story that explores the profoundly intertwined lives of two Oakland, California families, one black and one white. Here he creates a world grounded in pop culture: Kung Fu, 1970s Blaxploitation films, vinyl LPs, jazz and soul music, and an epic of friendship, race, and secret histories.” (card catalogue)

Is This How You Lost Her by Junot Diaz – ”A collection of stories, by turns hilarious and devastating, raucous and tender, that lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weaknesses of our all-too-human hearts, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. “Exhibits the potent blend of literary eloquence and street cred…”–O Magazine” (card catalog)

Older book that I would like to add to my list:

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – “A spoof on our culture featuring a drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation house near Boston. The center becomes a hotbed of revolutionary activity by Quebec separatists in revolt against the Organization of North American Nations which now rules the continent.” (card catalogue) (Because I like his style-)

Clash of Kings, Bk. 2, Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin – Book

Clash of Kings is the second book in The Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. This series of books is, of course, the basis of the Game of Thrones movies from HBO. Martin creates a world of Seven Kingdoms that is epic in scope and he is a skilled enough writer to suck us right into this world of good knights and ambitious, blood-thirsty knights, of Queens who rule with treachery and good Queens who wield their power by inspiring trustworthiness and loyalty. We get attached to so many of Martin’s characters, both the nefarious ones and the heroic, that it is difficult to imagine that we would ever tire of following these people as they trade power back and forth with ruthless violence, shifting family alliances, or sometimes just act out of the deep love they bear for their home and their people.
We have, from House Stark at Winterfell, Catelyn and her daughters Sansa and Arya to once again beguile us with harsh choices and the integrity of their family. We have Catelyn’s sons, Robb, Bran and Rickon, who must survive without their great and gracious father, so foully murdered by House Baratheon, We have the direwolves the Stark children adopted as pups, who are their protectors and who enhance their power. The Starks do not fare well in this second book. We can only hope that since they are the good guys they will somehow triumph in the end, but things look pretty grim for the residents of Winterfell.
Cersei from House Lannister was married to Edward Stark’s greatest friend from his youth, the cuckolded and murdered King Robert of House Baratheon. Joffrey, Cersei’s oldest son, rules in the old king’s place, but he is young and the elders in House Baratheon, with encouragement from some, convene armies to “help” the young, king.  Joffrey is the bastard offspring of Cersei’s incest with her brother Jaime and a psychopath. His “allies” actually hope to perhaps help themselves to the Iron Throne. Fighting is fierce in this war of houses and if you don’t think swords and battleaxes can be brutal weapons you will find they are perfectly sufficient for up close and personal mayhem. This book is full of this clash of the kings and we wait to see who will be the winner.
We also have Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf, living in an age when differences are barely tolerated, with a brilliant mind trapped in his pain-filled body and who labors for his awful sister Cersei who values him only occasionally and who forgets his talents as soon as he helps her get her way. Tyrion is no saint, but his intelligence wins him a place in our hearts and we hope that he will survive by the use of his wits. Cersei and Tyrion separately collude with the eunuch, Varys and with Littlefinger, who know everything about everything, are loyal to no one in House Baratheon, and who, instead, use everyone to weave their own webs and accrue their own benefits.
We have Jon Snow, Edward Stark’s bastard son, exiled from Winterfell by Catelyn’s jealousy, and forced to defend the wall that separates the Wildlings from the Kings and Queens and the attendant Houses. Jon has “taken the black” and vowed to keep the people on one side of the Wall safe from the creatures on the other side of the wall. Jon has gone to look for his kin with a troop of others of the Watch and as the book ends we are uncertain of Jon’s future. Jon is our hero though, so we know that he had better be around to help win the day.
We have Daernys who is the true heir to King’s Landing, the castles and land, and the Iron Throne now held by House Baratheon since the last great wars. She is the Dragonborn who has been living in exile and is trying to find her way home without her beloved and with the three young dragons (the only dragons left in this world) who were born at the end of Book 1.
There are many, many minor characters who we love and lose along the way (minor characters are much more likely to be expendable than major ones) as the wars rage through the pages of these books. This is fantasy writing at its best, taking us to a world we will never inhabit, except in our mind and entertaining us happily.
 I’ll take a second to talk like the back of a book jacket. Very entertaining! Can’t wait to start Book 3!
After all, the long summer is over and winter is coming.

Afghanistan and Opium – How Can a Stoned Nation Survive

On Monday I went online to see how important opium production (poppy growing) is in Afghanistan. Sometime last week it suddenly dawned on me that Afghanistan is as much a drug-using and drug running country as Mexico ever was. Afghanistan has probably provided the surrounding countries with opium ever since the days of caravans and the Silk Road. We know the Chinese have a long history of opium use. It is very possible that silk was traded for opium. Wikipedia says that “Afghanistan has been the greatest illicit opium producer since 1992, excluding the year 2001. Afghanistan is the main producer of opium in the “Golden Crescent”. Opium production has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001. Based on UNODC data, there has been more opium poppy cultivation in each of the past four growing seasons (2004-2007) than in any one year under Taliban rule. Also, more land is now used for opium in Afghanistan than for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 92% of the non-pharmaceutical-grade opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan.” “In addition to opiates, Afghanistan is also the largest producer of hashish in the world.”

There may be, among certain users and drug lords, a strong desire to see Afghanistan remain what it is, a supplier of opiates to a number of countries around the world.

This Wednesday, September 19, 2012, on CNN there was a story about opium and Afghanistan and it talked about the large numbers of Afghans who are addicted to opium. This is not only a terrible waste of human possibility but it also explains why Afghanistan might fight to remain an agrarian culture. There is a book Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords, and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan by Fariba Nawa published in 2011 which talks about the toll opium use has taken on Afghan families. For a while, CNN said, methadone programs were made available to addicted Afghans, but, apparently, these programs have been discontinued.

I know the Taliban was atavistic and extreme but when the Taliban was in charge they did not allow farmers to grow opium poppies. Our American troops are not in Afghanistan to fight opium wars, and when we chased out the Taliban, opium production soared. When we leave opium will most likely continue to be the main product of the Afghanistan economy. 
Is opium production and use creating a prosperous society in Afghanistan? It doesn’t seem so. Is a nation of people addicted to opium use ever likely to reach its full potential? Probably not. Is it our responsibility to “save” the Afghans. I don’t think we can and I don’t think they would thank us for it. Will we be able to stand by and watch a once proud culture drug itself to death? We will probably have to but it will be a grievous thing to see. Hopefully the Afghan people will find a safer way to make a living, one that isn’t wrought with self-sabotage, but it is difficult to imagine what business would thrive in such a harsh environment and provide the kind of income that poppy growing seems to offer. If Afghan could use their talent with poppy growing to grow opiates for the pharmaceutical industry perhaps Afghanistan could thrive. However, they would have to stop using the opium they produce. It is also very possible that without all that opium the Afghan people could invent a prosperous economy and take their place among modern nations.

The 53% vs the 47%

When Mitt Romney tells his country club friends that 47% of Americans don’t pay taxes and that they are victims because of their dependence on government is he really talking campaign strategy? Yes and no. Or that new word, nyes, nyes, nyes. It makes a certain nasty sense. Why try to sell yourself as a candidate to people if they will not vote for you? Romney says that those who pay no taxes and collect all the “entitlements” are on the gravy train and they know Republicans intend to derail the gravy train and send all their “taker” asses out on the mean streets of America to make their own way. He actually is saying that all these people have been taking a free ride from the other 53% of tax payers and that the 53% can no longer afford to pay for these “entitlements” and that they will no longer pay for them.

In a sense he is correct, although Republicans insist on counting people on Medicare and Social Security as “takers” even though we were told that these were benefits we paid for, because there is not enough money to make the programs work for much longer. Republicans are selling a much grimmer America. The people Congress once tried to subsidize and protect were the poor, the disabled, the children (especially the children). Seniors were not being cared for, they were taking care of themselves with the help of their government. Now, when money is scarce the GOP says that in order for America to remain a financially viable superpower all the “deadbeats” must be turned loose and the few people who are genuinely needy will be taken care of by not-for-profits or churches. Now we will be inundated with children who don’t have enough and America will enter some Dickensian future.
It is probably true that there are Americans who take advantage of the programs our government offers and who have no intention of going to work unless they actually have to. Do we have any idea how many people are gaming the system? The number is probably higher than the number of examples of voter fraud in this country for which we are being subjected to an elaborate system of voter ID laws. Do we have any idea of how many people have languished so long in the system that they don’t know any other way to live and who will turn into productive citizens only if the system turns them loose? I don’t think we do.
However, I also don’t think any of these things matters. I think the GOP believes that the top earners in this country are done paying for the poor, the disabled, their grandparents and any other people who want to take assistance from the government even though they pay no taxes. The billionaires feel we are hanging onto their coattails and bringing them down. They want to fix the laws in America so that the 53% do not pay for the 47%. And they do not care that seniors thought they were paying their own way because it didn’t work, the program is going broke. Gramma and Grampa better go get a job so they can pay for their health care all over again.
Most of us have some pride and do not want the 53% to take care of us. Some Americans cannot afford to let pride stand in the way of their survival. The reason this is an issue right now is our depressed economy. We need jobs and we need them soon or our government could go broke. When we had jobs that paid better than a living wage we could afford to take care of less fortunate Americans. Without jobs we can’t. But doesn’t the GOP reasoning essentially disenfranchise 47% of Americans because they say they are not paying their way. Apparently we buy the right to be a citizen by paying taxes. America never placed salary requirements on citizenship, at least not since 1776. If you can only be a citizen if you pay into the American government then what will happen to all the people who no longer qualify to be US citizens? What if jobs don’t miraculously appear when you tip everyone off the gravy train?
No matter how true the financial arguments are that are coming out of the Republican camp I cannot embrace their view of an America that is just a profitable corporation. I cannot embrace their view of an America that has no social functions. Instead of settling for an America we won’t recognize let’s have a serious discussion about a combination of cuts and tax increases that will improve the tax balance in America. But it is a sad thing when wealthy people used our government to create laws that favored wealthy Americans and then, when they cornered most of the wealth in the nation, they started to scream like little girls that people were touching their money. It is not just the people at the bottom who will bring America down, the greed at the top plays a big role also.