Wednesday, March 16, 2011

American decline picks up steam

The most depressing aspect of our economic situation is how our leaders are handling it. Everywhere you look, governors and mayors are cutting funding for schools, firing teachers, eliminating or combining schools, shutting libraries and closing senior centers (and often blocking Medicaid, refusing to authorize life-saving surgical procedures, etc.). And on the national level, many in Congress are trying to remove every safety net that protects the citizenry.

The thinking seems to go like this: when times get rough, throw kids and seniors to the curb. Do not hesitate, just toss 'em out. And no matter what, don't focus on the money-grabbing by corporations and individuals that is occurring at the exact same time. No, no, no. Keep your attention narrowly focused on harming kids and old folks.

How does this make sense? At senior centers, many older people obtain their only meal of the day. Without it they'd be in real trouble. Plus, this is their only opportunity to socialize because there is no one in their lives who visits them. Most are utterly alone in the world. The centers are also a precious source of warmth in the winter and cooling in the summer. They're a vital lifeline for these people. Take the centers away and you leave seniors without food, friends or support. How could this be a good idea?

And as for de-funding schools and firing teachers, there is nothing more shortsighted. Legislators and elected officials are eating the future of our country. Depriving kids of a good education is the last thing we should do in bad economic times. Where will our new, educated workers come from? Who will pick up the pieces of our shattered economy? And as for libraries, they are places where dreams are born. Libraries not only nurture kids' minds, they provide a safe harbor away from the threats of the streets (and sometimes, their own homes). It is utterly insane to cut educational services for young people. It is an act of national suicide.

Yet you never hear this in our public discourse. We only hear that more and more of these attacks on our future are taking place. And people seem to accept these actions, like lemmings. This is such a simple thing to understand. Maybe it would help if we transform this into personal terms and see how it really looks.

When a breadwinner loses a job, the family takes the youngest child, stabs her and tosses her out the window. If they're really under pressure, they then take grandma, drown her in a tub and bury her in Potter's Field. Because that's the American way. It reduces costs and that's all that matters.

It's funny how when you make it personal, you see the lack of sense in this way of thinking. But on a grand scale, our attitude seems to be, "Who the hell cares?" Wake up, folks. Bad things are happening right now.

If we don't take a look at ourselves and right the ship immediately -- and I don't think there's any chance that this will happen -- then we won't be able to come back from this, at least not for several decades. Our country is in a period of runaway mental and moral decay. Every civilized society cares for its young, its elderly and its infirm. If people don't understand this today then the country is no longer civilized. It's that simple.

And the worst part of all this, of course, is that there is no hero on the horizon. There is hardly anyone in public life who speaks honestly because all the players have ulterior motives. It's a greedy grab all around -- and the people be damned.

It's all decline, all the time, everywhere you look. I think we've passed the tipping point.