Tiny Bubbles

My wife has a migraine and went to bed early, and my best friend’s phone is going straight to voicemail, so I’ll try to blog even though it’s been eight days and I still don’t have anything in mind to blog about.

We have a new walking program, and we’ve been doing good with that, we’ve taken a walk every day for the last week or so. Also have a new meditation program. That’s been a little more hit and miss–we’re doing the meditations when we lay down at night, and some nights we’ve just been too tired to do them. But I have noticed, in the short period of time we’ve been meditating, that my worrying and ruminating seem to have gotten a bit better. I’m not thinking about being homeless as much for sure. Part of that may be that I haven’t been paying attention to the political news. I did note that the Democrats lost that special election in Georgia, which doesn’t surprise me. Nothing about them has changed since last November, why should they start to win in red districts? Now personally, I don’t understand how anybody other than a billionaire could be a Republican, but I’m sure Republicans wonder how anybody could be a Democrat.

We all live in our own little echo chambers, our own little bubbles where the only news that gets in is the news we want–or at least, ask–to hear. On my Facebook feed I get everything from Bernie Sanders, Liz Warren and Jeff Merkley, and nothing from any Republican. Why would I bother? Nothing they could ever do or say would make me change my mind or my opinion of them. Why let them poison my news feed? But the problem is, we’re all like that these days. I’m the only person I know whose political viewpoint has ever done a 180. I voted for W. in 2004, to my everlasting shame, and it wasn’t until Katrina in 2005 that I woke up and realized that the Republicans were nothing but a sham. That was before iPhones even existed (I think), and before I ever heard of Facebook. But I started out as a Democrat (I voted for Clinton in 1992, the first election I was allowed to vote in) so I guess I’ve just come back to my roots. But still, my family is loaded with Republicans, and we seem to have a mutual understanding that I will ignore their posts if they ignore mine. I’ve unfollowed most of my family, and I assume they’ve either unfollowed me or chosen to ignore me when I post some of my pro-Bernie propaganda or something about how the government is bought and paid for by billionaires.

Nobody ever talks anybody around anymore. Everybody I know has their political viewpoint, and it’s set in stone and nothing can really change it. Now granted, I don’t know a whole lot of people, but I sense this is a problem in our larger society. Nobody can even agree on facts anymore. We used to be a country that believed in science. We still seem to believe in technology, but I don’t know that people believe in the science behind it. In my opinion it’s because we’ve become a nation of morons. I saw some poll on CNN the other day, where 48% of American adults don’t know where chocolate milk comes from. 7% of them thought it comes from brown cows. When I hear shit like that, I just lose all faith in humanity. Well, not humanity in general, but Americans in particular. Most of Europe seems to have its shit in one sock, especially the Scandinavian countries. You know, all those rotten “socialist” countries who have the happiest populations in the world? But can we use them as an example and do things they way they do? Oh, hell no, I don’t want my tax dollars going to this program or that kind of people or whatever. Jesus wept.

We’re never going to get anywhere as a society when 48% of the country is so stupid that it doesn’t know where chocolate milk comes from, and thinks electing Donald Trump as President is a good idea. Our problem isn’t the politicians, it’s that people in America are so goddamn stupid they’ll vote for whoever puts the most commercials on TV. That’s the truth. If we had an educated and informed population capable of critical thinking, buying elections wouldn’t work because everybody would be following the money and know that Congressman X only thinks Bill Y is a great idea because Corporation Z donated a million dollars to his re-election campaign. But instead we have Republicans sitting on mountains of cash (and corporate Democrats too) and shooting down any and all potential opposition by just throwing money at an election. It shouldn’t be this way, it’s not SUPPOSED to be this way, and the only reason it ever got this bad is because a ridiculously high percentage of American people are just plain fucking stupid and/or ignorant. If that burns, it’s because it’s supposed to. The truth hurts. We’ve got a country that’s 45% Democratic, 45% Republican, and 10% undecided–meaning they think so little about politics and what’s good for the country that they can’t even be bothered to have a goddamn opinion. And it’s the 10% undecideds–the lowest common denominator–that decides 95% of our elections. Reminds me of an old quote I’ve heard attributed to P.T. Barnum: Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

And it’s not just the school system–otherwise the millennials would be the worst of the bunch, since most of our schools had already gone to shit by the time they got to them. It’s our whole fucking society. This anti-intellectual, anti-science, hate-the-smartest-guy-in-the-room culture we have permeates every aspect of American society. Trump is not the disease; Trump is the symptom that the disease has progressed to the point of being potentially fatal. Everybody and everything is to blame, from the media, Wall Street, and the big oil companies right down to you and me who aren’t calling our Senators and Representatives every single day and bitching to high heaven about damn near everything they do. It’s all of us. It’s modern-day America. Our nation has a cancer, and that cancer has metastasized into every limb and every organ. There is only one answer: the patient must die in order to live.

In other words, we have to scrap the present system, write a new Constitution that’s up-to-date (version 2.0, if you will), and restart the whole goddamn government from the ground up. This time we have to make it not only idiot-proof, but money-proof. I mean, the Founders did a great job and I love the Constitution as much as the next guy, but what other document never needs revision and updating? Hell, they even reword the Bible every now and then. I’m not saying we need to scrap the whole thing, just that it needs a solid rewrite to be in line with the 21st century and the problems and challenges we face as a people and as a nation. The government the Founders gave us worked pretty well for over 200 years–longer, I’m sure, than any of them ever dreamed it would last–but the system is broken now. The rot is too deep, the cancer is too widespread, and there is no way out of this except to rewrite all the rules from scratch, making sure the corporations and billionaires and lobbyists can’t rule over the people. It’s SUPPOSED to be WE the PEOPLE. We the PEOPLE are the ultimate authority. We the PEOPLE are the ones who have inalienable rights. We the PEOPLE are the court of last resort, and the government is supposed to work to OUR benefit. Right now, it isn’t. Love Obamacare or hate it, it’s wrong to take insurance away from over 20 million people, causing an extra 30k or so deaths every year. But it’s going to happen, because it’s what the billionaires want. All the phone calls and letters to the editor in the world don’t matter when there’s a guy on the other side giving out million-dollar checks.

So what is it going to take to make this happen–to get a new Constitution, or at least a new Amendment saying corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech? I don’t have the answer to that, but what I think is this: it’s going to get very bad in America, and it’s going to happen faster than we imagine. We’ve been on top for a long while, and our fall from grace isn’t going to be a gradual decline. We’re going to fall and fall and fall until we hit rock-bottom and the people, even that 7% who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows, get so sick and tired and fed up with everything that there’s open rebellion in the streets. It’ll happen when people can’t find homes and can’t feed their kids. That kind of desperation has brought down governments since the beginning of time. And it will again. But unless we wake up of our own accord, which I don’t believe will happen, it’s going to come to that. It’s going to come to people rioting in the streets and hanging effigies of their Congressmen from every lamppost and tree they can find.

Maybe I’m being unduly pessimistic, although I don’t think I am. Maybe we can elect Bernie and he can lead us to the Promised Land. But right now I can’t see it. All that money will pour in against him and everything he tries to do, and the people aren’t awake enough yet, by and large. That’s going to be the hard part, the awakening. I’m not saying it’s going to happen tomorrow…things may continue to sputter on as they have for quite some time. But when we hit bottom, we’re going to hit hard, and we’re not going to get up for a while.

Well, I guess I found something to blog about after all. Finishing just in time, because my wife’s migraine got better and she’s awake now, so I’ll stop here. Thanks for reading. =)

Precipice (Daily Prompt)

Today’s daily prompt is Precipice, and oh brother, are we on one.

It feels like things are wheeling out of control. Every day is a new Trump scandal. Now we have a special counsel, former FBI head Robert Mueller, to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia and his attempts to obstruct justice. Everybody should note that Mueller is a special COUNSEL, NOT a special PROSECUTOR. He serves at Trump’s pleasure, and Trump could conceivably fire Mueller just like he fired Comey. Nixon fired a bunch of people on his way down, so don’t be surprised if Trump axes more people as he gets more and more freaked out. In my opinion, we have not only grounds for impeachment, but may have grounds for actual treason, which last I checked still has the death penalty as the listed punishment. Trump may–oh the irony–do time in prison before this is all over.

So what happens after we impeach Trump? Well, assuming he’s clean of wrongdoing, we get Mike Pence as President. While not the comic-book villain Trump has become, Pence is every bit as bad. Well, maybe not every bit–at least we could probably trust Pence with the nuclear codes–but when it comes to pushing a conservative agenda, Pence would probably be much better than Trump at actually getting things done. Of course, by this point the whole administration will be so galactically unpopular that they may not be able to get anything done anyway. The GOP’s Congressional delegation is a bunch of rats who are figuring out that the ship is sinking. They will eventually come flying out of their holes to scramble to a lifeboat, and that will be the end of the Trump/Pence administration for all intents and purposes.

What if Pence is dirty too? Then, God save us, we get Paul Ryan as President. So it just doesn’t really get any better. Again, the GOP may have lost so much credibility by that point that Ryan is practically a lame duck by the time he gets the Oval Office. But either Pence or Ryan could conceivably stop the Republican bleeding and get them back with their shit in one sock. We have to stay vigilant, and keep working through groups like Indivisible to resist the GOP agenda at every turn.

But, back to the prompt of Precipice, it feels to me like the country is on another precipice, and that is this: what is holding our economy up these days? Manufacturing only employs like 8.5% of the population. I feel like we’re the town where everybody makes money by doing their neighbor’s laundry. We’ve got trillions of dollars floating around out there somewhere, but who does it belong to? The large corporations and billionaires. And the next time we have an economic shock (because the banks are still up to the same tricks that got them in hot water in 2008), all that money is going to get sucked right out of the system.

In America today we seem to have two classes of people: those who order Starbucks, and those who serve Starbucks. It seems to me that the latter class vastly outnumbers the former, and quite frankly, that’s not going to work, economically speaking. The whole system is built on Americans being good consumers, but when you have no money to spend, you cannot consume. More and more of America is having to divert its money to paying off student debt or credit cards or whatever else it may be, and less and less of America has any money left at the end of the month to consume much of anything. The iPhone 23 will be great, no doubt, but by then who will be able to afford it? For instance, I look around at the small town I live in, and what do I see? I see a Walmart, a Safeway, a bunch of fast-food joints and convenience stores, and a couple bank branches. How much consuming do you think the people working at these places can really do? Where’s the money? All these jobs are minimum wage or maybe a little more. There’s a mill a few miles out of town that may have a few skilled laborers, but that’s about it. I look at the price of houses in my town and all I can think is “where are the people who can afford this?” Hell, aside from subsidized housing like I live in, I don’t know how people afford rent around here.

I feel like we are on the precipice of another financial/economic disaster, where the bubbles all burst at once and we are left looking at each other wondering where all the Monopoly money went. The stock market has been booming since Trump took over, but what happens when he goes down and his agenda goes down with him? Who’s going to be the FDR that pulls us out of the Great Recession of 2018? Who? Mike Pence? Don’t make me laugh.

The fact is that America is running on fumes, and it’s just a matter of time before everything unravels. And when I say unravels, I mean Great Depression levels of unraveling (or worse). There is a great blog out there called The Automatic Earth that does a better job of explaining where we are and what’s going on than I ever could, and gives advice on how to survive the coming collapse. I’m not in a position where I can take advantage of most of their advice, but if you are, you should check out their site and educate yourself. The link above takes you to a page of TAE primers that will show you what’s going on and what you can do about it. It’s very sobering and not for the faint of heart. I don’t claim to understand all of it, but what I do understand scares the crap out of me. Inside me is a closet survivalist who wishes he was in a bunker on the side of a mountain with some guns and ten years’ worth of non-perishable food, but that’s not the fate I’m meant to have. When the collapse comes, I will be right there in the middle of the rubble, trying to claw my way out.

Well, that’s enough cheerfulness for one day. Thanks for reading. =)