Saturday, November 30, 2013

thoughts on anniversary of JFK's assassination

from Mary Brenner

United States of America is no longer the land of opportunity.  As we approach the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy, we mourn the loss of Camelot.  And more, we morn the loss of hope for the future and faith in the greatness and goodness of our country.  As we watch government’s decay and disfunction, we wonder where to look for reform.  And as we cope with decreasing well-being, we fear the worst is yet to come.  Already we can see that the promises of ‘democracy’, capitalism’, ‘unity’ and the ‘rule of law’ are washed away in the flood of modern trends, we can truly say that the civics lessons of our schooling are lies.  The promises of our constitution are obliterated.  The United States is no longer the home of the brave and the land of the free. 

Statistically most middle class families have had their real standard of living fall below that of their parents; and it is still falling.  Things are not as good as they used to be.  Now mom and dad both have to work just to get by.  

Start your own business on a shoe string.... it is not going to happen now.  There are too many taxes, rules and regulations that favor the big businesses and multinationals. 

Work hard and get ahead?  No longer.  As pay rates stagnate, well-paid factory work is outsourced or replaced by technology, the productivity of American workers improves to the point where we no longer need as many workers, or as many full-time workers.  Unions flounder in the face of growing competition from abroad, declining blue collar jobs, high technological inputs and increasing costs of health care and retirement benefits.

Higher education opens doors to upward mobility?  Costs of college have increased exponentially.  Student loans burden graduates with payments that often outpace the resultant good-paying jobs.... if they can find jobs in their fields.  Only the upper class continues to profit from education, only the graduates of prestigious universities get the opportunities promised to graduates.

Justice..... is still only for the rich.

Upward mobility?  No.  The class system is more rigid now than at any time in our past. 

Safety net?  With 47% of our citizens in need of transfer payments, ranging from Social Security (an earned insurance) to unemployment insurance (temporary), food stamps (inadequate), housing subsidies (under-funded), health care (if you are lucky), disability, and child-care subsidies (resented by anyone who happens to not need such help).  Despite the huge need and huge costs, there is not enough assistance to meet the need.  The downward spirals of poverty continue desperate social problems of low birth rate, hunger, drug addiction, alcoholism, ill health, crime and loss of hope.

The other end of the spiral is the concentration of wealth in 1% of the very rich.  Not only do these rich few not share, they are not fairly taxed.  Wall Street concentrates wealth in the stock-trading manipulations that remove most of the money from the productive economy and ties it up.  The gains of capitalism are not being re-invested in the public infrastructure of our country, and now we do not even have enough money to continue needed maintenance and repairs of our infrastructure.  We are witnessing decay all around us and should be ashamed of our public spaces and buildings, highways, airports, transportation systems, bridges, schools, and hospitals.   The glitz of a few downtown centers or suburban shopping islands and tourist areas are increasingly isolated from the mainstream. 

Made in America?  Not even possible to ascertain anymore.. Due to globalization, nothing is purely made in America anymore.  As consumerism rules, poorer and poorer quality of products lead to obsolescence.  And no public entity can regulate or oversee multinational corporations to protect us from excesses of slave labor, sweat shops, unhealthy products, environmentally ruinous production, unfair trade. 

State militias were usurped by the federal government when the Council of Governors gave up the control of state ‘national’ guard after Katrina.  Now the federal government with little of no legislative or state oversight can send our young men and women into harms way anywhere in the world, leaving no one to serve local communities in time of natural disasters.  Through ‘standardization’ regulations and federal grants the federal government sets the agenda for the dominance of the national security agenda over significant local issues.  Such militarization extends to control of the internet, of information and of all areas within 100 miles of a national border (half of Vermont). 

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