Letter to a Friend
This essay is really just a slightly edited email reply I sent to an old friend I’ve known since grammar school. I’ll be 81 next month and he’s a year older so it isn’t as if we haven’t had time and experience enough to analyze what is going on in our lives, our country, our planet, and our minds. I’m afraid I just let my annoyance show, but I think it may just be time. The paragraphs between the asterisks are the pertinent part of an email he sent me.
“Somehow, I have this nagging feeling that the world is laughing its ass off at what is happening in America.
Is it not time to create a new form of government and get on with it ?........we do appear to be idiots, incapable of knowing what to do next.
In many ways, our generation seems to have been patriots and responsible folks. However, somewhere along the cycle, all of our values have been changed to "entitlement seeking adults who care only about themselves" and taught their children to seek only those things which are "free".
What happened............How did we ---- this up so badly?”
Here is my reply:
You ask what has happened to the US. I do read and think about what has happened and what is happening. I have come to the easy conclusion that hard, brutal labor is not a good way to spend one’s life. There is plenty of pain in life without that. Just because one generation has to work in a salt mine doesn’t mean subsequent generations should have to do so as well. We actually have a chance to improve the lives of everyone alive today and to take care of other species and the Earth if we can stop the mindless greed of our corporate masters.
I disagree that we were "patriots and responsible folks" and that later generations are “entitlement seeking adults who care only about themselves” nor do I think we need a new form of government, we just need to return to the idea of “commonwealth” that made life decent for more of us when we were young. The rich, the plutocrats, the oligarchy, whatever you want to call our new corporate masters do not understand the idea of sharing. Jesus did. Buddha did. But the new elite only understands greed. Greed is not good. Fighting endless wars is not patriotism. It is simply an efficient way to enrich the wealthy while impoverishing everyone else and killing the planet. That is what our “patriotism" was all about from Korea on. Just the military-industrial complex exploiting its markets. Eisenhower warned us. He didn’t find patriotism so uplifting because he saw how it was being used to guarantee profits to Lockheed, Raytheon, and anyone else who could get their snout in the trough. The world is not laughing its ass off about us. The rest of the world is frightened of us. With good reason. We have military bases all over the world. We are fighting multiple wars at the same time and continuously. Hillary Clinton and our generals look as if they want to start an atomic war with Russia.
Automation is killing jobs left and right. Where do people get jobs nowadays? Typists and stenos aren’t needed. Factory work is being done by robots. There are few manual labor jobs going except for fruit and vegetable picking, some carpentry and electrical jobs for skilled workers, cobblers for those who can afford leather shoes, garbage collection, sewer maintenance, and other civil service jobs, and service jobs like Wal-Mart. You can still work in a donut shop if you can get the job before some other person does. Today is not like our boyhood or even like your daughters’ youth. Stop thinking today is like yesterday. It isn’t. With the wealthy stealing everything they can get their hands on, with overpopulation stressing the planet, with climate change happening far faster than anyone expected, with social safety nets being shredded and plundered by the oligarchy for their own gain, with the idea of caring for each other being corrupted into wanting “free stuff” how the hell can anyone think that business as usual is working?
Automation could lift everyone out of subsistence lives to easier and better lives if greed wasn’t our overriding goal. We no longer need to work long hours for subsistence wages if we would just learn to share. Why should some people have five or six mansions, private jets, and more money than they can spend in five or six lifetimes when much of the worlds’ populace is one meal away from starvation and has no medical care or dependable shelter and is in danger of being brutalized and murdered by soldiers of one kind or another? I don’t believe that wealth makes one better than someone who works manually or who can’t even find a job of any kind. In fact, to me great wealth is a sign of callousness, greed, and moral deficiency. The very things that Jesus talked about with scorn. Remember the rich man and the eye of the needle? The greatest evil in the world is not being out of work or being poor or even being lazy, it’s in being so selfish and so cocksure about one’s own worth that one does not give a damn about anyone who doesn’t look or act or speak or believe like oneself.
Corporations are plundering the entire earth with our government’s direct aid through the military and trade deals that are really just cover for making corporations superior to national governments and laws. We don’t need a new form of government because what we now have is a new form of government. We need to get the government back that we had in the forties and fifties. This change has come about purposefully by the planning of the wealthy and corporations to reverse the New Deal even before the ink was dry. Do you know that a wealthy cabal had plans to take over the US during Roosevelt’s first term of office? Smedley Butler and others stopped it just in time. The plutocratic plotters didn’t give up after being caught and what we have now is the fruition of their plans: government by corporations and their wealthy owners. For example, how about the student loan scams of universities and banks legalized by the US Government, about union busting, about the corporate capture of government regulatory bodies, about the concentration of radio, TV, and newspapers in six large corporations, about the price fixing of big pharma, about the loss of family farms and the degradation of our food by big agriculture, and on and on and on?
It seems to me that Christ’s message is very clear. He didn’t give a shit about whether or not someone was looking for an easy life, he just cared that people believed in taking care of each other and being good stewards of the earth. Corporations are the worst stewards possible. Their daily actions are evil: pollution, degraded food, and the unrelenting pursuit of wealth and power are the characteristics of the modern corporate state. The new ethos is that everything should be for sale: our water, our government services, our health, our private lives, in short, everything we need to live should be owned by the plutocrats and paid for by the rest of us on pain of suffering and death. This time is not the same as when we were young. It’s very different and the old rules don’t work. Unfortunately, too few understand what is happening and the extreme danger the Earth and all its inhabitants and species are in from this mindless corporate greed.
Now do you understand what has happened and what is happening and what is likely to happen in the future? It’s very unpleasant and dwelling on a return to an imagined past greatness and glory won’t work. Sorry.