There is not much that can be said of the last few years in America that has not already found its way into Presidential speeches, Congressional testimony, pundit-filled shows on cable, talking-head shows on financial networks, and blogs of every description and size. Since the beginning of the precipitous plunge of the nation toward Depression, there has been enough wailing, moaning, gnashing of teeth, and finger pointing to fill volumes. It has been fodder for politics, for industry, for banking, and for the news.
The jabbering, multitudinous and myopic, has left people at odds over what is to be done, provided political ne'er-do-wells the opportunity to ply us with their conspicuously anti-middle class screeds, and turned up the volume on the blathering to the point of obscuring the painful truth -- the precipice is still not that far away. The fact remains: people are hurting. Not the rich... no, their place in American culture is insulated from the vicissitudes of life by their avarice and the generosity of the rest of the citizenry in letting them absent themselves from paying their due. The people who are hurting are the overwhelming majority of Americans who are finding their pay cut, their hours slashed, their jobs eliminated or shipped overseas, and are left floating in a sea of debt they were told they could handle by banks and other agencies who were only interested in the money they could make. And this group, representing just about the full breadth of us, is barely hanging on.
We can blame no one but ourselves, really. The lackadaisical culture we have adopted in America, leaving it to "others" to handle our problems, has led us, invariably, to this sea of troubles upon which we ride. We hand our money to others to invest for us, blindly thinking they have our best interests at heart. We accept deals on loans from banks, thinking they are trying to help us and not themselves. We gobble up credit, assured that we can pay off our balances, not worried that the banks will change our rates, sight unseen. We hand education to school boards, never worrying that they might be wasting our tax money, weakening our curricula, and leaving our children with less of a future than we had. We are more than happy to go along with political parties, sure they are working hard for us, and not simply consolidating power for their masters, the Monied Powers.
We have spent decades turning a blind eye, letting our interests be handed to those who have only their interests in mind as they go about their machinations, never worrying that anyone will take notice. Sometimes they are caught, sometimes they are thrown into the light of justice by their misdeeds, but sometimes even the most heinous of them are not touched, free to lie to us to our faces without fear of any sort of retribution. This has become the standard of many a Congressman, perfectly willing to say whatever it takes to get us to vote for them, only to work tirelessly for themselves more than for their constituency. When Senator John Kyl's office clarified his bald-faced lie on the floor of the Senate by claiming that it was "not intended to be a factual statement," they were only confirming what we already knew about facts and politicians.
The American Dream, as it was, is dying, because it was based on doctrines of fairness, honesty, the right to work and to have your work recognized for its value. They heyday of that system is now long over -- employees are being replaced by cheaper contractors, or being forced to do more work than they used to make up for comrades who have been fired. More and more jobs are simply leaving, heading to places where laws are lax, human labor is cheap, and human life even cheaper. CEOs make millions for shuffling papers and looking good in three-piece suits, and slashing jobs to increase profit margins; the regular worker is seen as a parasite, leeching away profits to have health care and vacations and sick days, when they should be grateful to have a job with the company. The problems of the worker are no longer important, even though it is those workers who, after the nine-to-five grind, go out and become the consumers that drive the American economy.
While people argue over the ludicrous, deny the factual, bury their head in the sand, and cling to the tired tumult of gainsaying, we sit at the edge, still. Our advance halted, no one has the courage, it seems, to back us up from the edge. We act as if we can sit there indefinitely, staring into the abyss, mocking it with our presence, rather than take the danger it represents seriously. In that precipice lies the death of a proud nation, conceived in blood and sacrifice, tossed away like just another roadside cigarette butt. Still for now, we will most certainly begin to edge toward it again if we do not break the habit of clinging to pointless mockery and partisan bickering.
There are no sides in this, no parties, no right and wrong. There are only people, Americans, the vast majority of whom are suffering some form of indignity due to the mismanagement of the nation by shirkers, partisans, and power seekers. People go hungry, people go homeless, people become ill who need not, and all some can do is argue over abortion and birth certificates and the Federal debt. We have no will anymore, no desire to actually see our country run as it should be. We have taken our hands off the wheel, ignored the icebergs, heard the rumblings from the mountain and thought nothing of it. While a decent nation crumbles and its decent people suffer, circus clowns lob pies and call it governance.
We are at the edge. The cool breath of the deep chasm whisks by our face and lets us know that if we are not careful, its maw will swallow us whole. The time for bickering about how we got to the edge is over; the time for clawing our way back from it is now. Anyone who is unwilling to take our current predicament seriously, needs to step aside, and let those of us who wish to see America saved from certain doom save it, before it is too late.