It’s not as if we don’t get our fair share of warnings — as in, these Billy Joel lyrics from last century: “… Every child had a pretty good shot … to get at least as far as their old man got… Something happened on the way to that place: they threw an American flag in our face …"
by Donald Croft Brickner
If there is a preposterous irony to history’s in-and-out-of-a-century’s worth of Big Shot compulsive money-making, it’s that it couldn’t survive without the Little Guy.
Certainly, not any more — that dark era appears to be ending. And it’ll likely never return again. Today’s future grandparents will see to that.
It can’t. Without the middle class or even the poor, what do you know: there is no more money coming in to continue to fatten the wallets of the greedy, the vicious, the profits-shovelers, the addictively self-absorbed, the relentlessly self-serving.
Who isn’t completely fed up with bullies by now? They don’t represent America. They barely represent bullydom, in all of its guises.
To one-note capitalists, by the way: How does the last player on the Monopoly board collect rent?
Answer: he or she can’t. They never could. The Parker Brothers’ game always ended in a stalemate — yet that notion inevitably sailed by all of us, unnoticed.
All of us.
* * * * *
Even Fox News’ days (and those of its ilk — not to isolate only Fox) are probably inevitably numbered. Fixated, loud proponents of stock-buying as a meaningful, even critical-to-our-way-of-life activity, its producers and on-screen pundits have forever attempted to elevate their bullying materialistic bravado into some kind of art form — never mind all the pushing, pushing, pushing of their severely limited and limiting views about what it means to be an American citizen, which they still clang into our heads daily.
And they also draw substantial salaries for doing that — at least for the time being.
Lord knows, their be-true-to-your-school-(and-only-your-school) format has never held the pursuit of philosophical curiosity and inquiry (nor balanced truth, either) in very high regard, all claims to the contrary.
Then along came a national majority vote in favor of Barack Obama — the bullies’ selected enemy — and their hinges blew loose with rage: an outcome the loudest of whom refused to admit was coming.
Such targeters are notorious for underestimating their foes.
Ergo — and not to provoke a flurry of smugly victorious high-fives — they’ve failed. These inappropriately named conservatives largely backed inexcusable distortion all fall long in an effort to prevent a black man from becoming our new president.
Is that overstated?
Bullying materialistic bravado, it might be said, has now become irrelevant. Fox News, et al, will be absorbed, and their essence will be added to that of our own.
Insisting that it’s not their fault: it’s those goddamned socialist tree-huggers, is irrelevant.
Eventually, Fox News, et al, will comply. Resistance is, you know — futile.
* * * * *
A renewed nationwide demand for healthy psychological parameters will initiate unexpected humbled introspection and personal responsibility — down the road.
For now, outraged clingers-to-the-past will mostly keep yelping, and may possibly tragically even murder a perceived liberal or two. That’s when all of this will end.
The post-elections hatreds haven’t abated. They’re coming out from under their hoods as fierce and self-righteous as ever, and they’re packing verbal heat and looking for trouble.
Bullies used to be the vilified other-nationalistically-driven individuals Americans once defended themselves against — weren’t they?
What are these hate-mongers doing now, running around pretending to be us?
* * * * *
And it is right here, right now, that all of that snide attitude, voiced above, will come to an abrupt end. Just had to get it out of my system. It’s done.
Anyway, besides …
…Don’t you dare say it again, Donald Croft Brickner — don’t you dare..!!:
–We’re all in this together.
* * * * *
It turns out that even after all efforts to eradicate the notion ontologically (and in every other manner possible), all people, of all persuasions, actually do matter.
“Them” and “us” are fast becoming synonyms. It soon will no longer be either/or.
General Motors and Ford, just to name two brands of compulsive corporate inflexibility, appear to be learning that lesson too late at this writing, as more U.S. megabusiness icons like them (and including them) threaten to close their doors.
After all, how many more gigantic bailouts can our federal government deal out?
Not many, one must figure. An increasingly unbalanced federal budget can only end in its being forced to declare bankruptcy — talk about a first ever event! And without the bailouts, the big business dominoes will quickly begin to fall, without resolution or an end in sight — and the irreversible economic Detmer Curve will kick in.
This is no small pickle. In addition to everything else, it’s cultural death. Wave goodbye to dreadful TV phenomena like TMZ. Ten years from now, that show, and those like it, will be viewed upon in retrospect as full bore embarrassments.
There is an upside or two to come out of all of this.
* * * * *
Former downsized employees, heretofore callously kicked to the curb (and consciously ignored by our media), are soon going to have some well-dressed company. Some of these may even turn out to be former members of the media.
The economic playing field is being leveled — and for many it’s now scary as hell.
Phase One, featuring a societal downward spiral (replete with figurative snapped wings and screaming passengers), has already begun its freefall — and, stated once again, it isn’t going to be saved at the bell. Real world impact relief options will become fewer and farther between with each passing week through the balance of this year, and likely well into the next.
The good news is that no matter how this crash manifests itself, it won’t be lethal, and it will be a one-time-only event. These essays have been intimating (if not flat-out stating) as much for several years now.
Regardless, none of these events should be a surprise to anybody any longer from a big picture perspective.
Hardly anyone’s even arguing we’re facing an abbreviated recession any more.
* * * * *
Once we’ve hit bottom en masse, the worst will be over. This, too, we’ve strongly proposed in previous treatises — and there’s as yet little evidence that idea is off-base. There will then, however, be a sluggishly slow-moving oblivion-esque recovery that will in all likelihood resemble Catholic limbo. Think numb. That’s Phase Two.
Then, like a phoenix rising from the ruins, we’ll begin to take thorough stock of ourselves, individually and as a culture, and rebuild … well, just about everything.
What these Phase Three changes will end up looking like is anybody’s guess.
There’s no sense in going there until a true bottom has been hit. And we’re not even close to that day arriving.
* * * * *
And it’s here, after the preceding big roundhouse windup, that this can be stated:
There can be no widespread, meaningful economic recovery without realistically bringing the consumer in to participate … as a partner with business. The days of manipulating people into mindlessly parting with their money are just about over.
The consumer increasingly has less and less income to spend — that, no matter how low Big Oil plummets and our once-seemingly-critical gas costs decrease.
American consumers, who drive — and drive is the word for it — more than two-thirds of our economy, can’t spend what they literally don’t have: money.
Still, companies shut down almost daily across our landscapes, and in doing so, they commit a double suicide. The only people who can revitalize our economy are the very ones losing their jobs. Salaries for the unemployed are logically rare.
* * * * *
Big oil or no big oil, the damage done to the economy appears to be irreversible, at least in its present incarnation. The process in play will be hurtful emotionally.
And all those people out there now (and in the days ahead), without incomes..?
The solution here is simple: the overwhelming majority of us will need an entirely new job in less than two years. Most of us will find menial wages in the interim.
Many kinds of jobs will either cut way back or cease to exist. We need new jobs.
And if that’s the solution, and it’s the only place to go: then let’s start to pony up.
Less talk. More action.
* * * * *
This downward spiral notwithstanding, it’s important to formulate at least some rebuilding plans now that can be implemented once the bottom has been hit. Plans that can actually be implemented.
We’ll require truth and foresight to come up with them — but come up with some we must if we are to mitigate what’s here.
We’ll all pretty much know when the bottom arrives. Warring factions will have become exhausted and broken, and will be forced to admit they’re lost — just as any addictive behaviors end ‘fessing up once they reach Step One: we admitted we powerless over fill-in-the-blank, that our lives had become unmanageable.
This is all an addictive process.
“Unmanageable” — that’s what lives become after the bubbles of denial finally pop, and the beholders hit bottom: they realize there’s no more songs and dances to be done that will turn around what have become clearly by then shattered lives. Shattered lives hurt — and it’s out of that hurt that the numbness of immobility will first set in.
That terrible immobility must be avoided at all costs — or we might not survive.
* * * * *
“…And I won’t be getting up today,” sang Billy Joel in Allentown. We’ve seen this level of hopelessness settle into America’s closed factory towns of 20 years ago, and we did nothing to correct such debilitating tragedies.
Michael Moore built his career on the back of his first acclaimed documentary, his directly-related, all-the-factories-in-Flint-are-shut-down-for-good, Roger & Me.
Yes, yes: bravo, Billy — bravo, Michael. Still, most of us did virtually nothing … except watch — or, and in the case of Mr. Moore, sneer.
And then we replayed that indifference outside of New Orleans after Katrina — emphasis on outside.
We all kind of figured that was “them” — we were “us.” And so, here we are now: what goes around, comes around.
This mess is all about us doing this to us.
There almost assuredly is a God (sorry, atheists — that’s the only fully logical and tenable determination) — but that creative force had nothing to do with this locked and loaded debacle we’re now responsible for having created.
One clear fundamental bottom line:
We can’t wait until after we crash, and the majority of us end up frozen in place with our deadened depressions. The Great Depression of the 1930s, by the way, got its name in part because just about every breathing soul was psychologically depressed.
None of us wants to go there again.
One quick aside: if individuals who sneer ever caught their expressions on film, they’d stop sneering.
* * * * *
So long as they’re not foolishly or unrealistically conceived, then, many such jobs plans could well be carried over into Phase Three’s rebuilding, maybe four years (or so) down the road. That they’d “just” be plans now is hardly a mere formality.
Unfortunately, there remains a significant minority of us who still insist nothing’s really wrong with America, and they’re determined to cling to what’s now strongly indicated is fast-becoming a lost past — and all in the space of one generation.
That’s not stupidity on their parts, either. It’s just core-level denial.
It’s also very human.
Regardless: like it or lump it, Major Change has arrived.
So, this question must be posed — and right about now is a good time to pose it:
What do we want to do about this crisis?
At present, about the only thing that’s on the table is this:
# # #