I’m not sure I know how to live in this country any more, they’ve changed too many rules. Maybe we need to start making our own.
I’m not so sure I know how to live in America any more. When it comes to politics, I’ve always been the sort who’s in favor of a mixed economy, believing that a balance of free markets and social programs is the best choice for governing. Regardless of the finer points of my political opinions, I got good grades in Civics class, and was properly indoctrinated as a US citizen growing up. Although what I’m about to say is going to sound like it’s partisan and politically motivated, it’s really not. It’s about lifestyle, and responsibility to my fellow citizens and financial agreements. Like many, I’ve had some credit issues here and there, but as we’ve learned recently, lenders are kind of like drug dealers, offering a magical solution to all your problems, without advising you of the long term dangers of the solution they provide. But by and large, I’ve always believed in hard work and paying my bills and taxes on time. The entire fabric of my basic moral fiber as a citizen of the world’s leading capitalist democracy has been slowly unraveling for a while though, and I find it harder and harder to keep living like the American I thought I was. For me it all started when 19 Saudis engaged in terrorist acts against the US, and the administration at the time perplexed the world by responding to the attacks by starting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And as if going against a long-standing tradition of not engaging in wars of aggression wasn’t bad enough, it was clear that a large part of that administration’s motive at the time was personal financial benefit, and a desire to privatize the military, so other “disaster capitalists” could do the same. Check out Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine if you don’t know what I’m talking about. This unraveling of my faith in our government continued when the same administration – under the guise of keeping us safe – started data mining citizens and otherwise eroding our basic rights, and in collusion with a monopolistic telecommunications company, no less. The fact that two presidential elections appeared to be stolen bothered me, but election fraud is more or less a tradition in American politics, just read Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, an American Political Tradition-1742-2004 if you don’t have a rational level of cynicism on the topic. All of this left me rather unsettled, but what really has finally made me consider chucking the social contract altogether was the massive bank and insurance industry bailouts and the recent supreme court decision to grant corporations the same rights as individuals. The former flies in the face of the most fundamental principles of capitalism. The latter suggests that if corporations have the same rights as individuals, I deserve a bailout and a bonus too. I’m not joking about this. I’ll gladly play the game of capitalism by the rules; I think it’s a great game when played with the right balance of self-interest and social responsibility. But the fundamental rules have changed, and I feel I have no choice but to reconsider my lifestyle accordingly. Does this sound melodramatic? I don’t think so. What about you? Is it business as usual? Do these paradigm shifts in government bother you? If so, do you plan to do anything about it? I fear we won’t.