America, Recession, Division- How Long Can We Go On Like This?

Jobless Recovery?

How Long Will This Recession Last?

Short answer is:  A long time.

The last time we had 10% unemployment was during Ronald Reagan’s first term.  In fact I think it was in 1982 that it was highest.  So perhaps the Obama people will look at it and draw parallels and make optimistic conclusions.  After all, just two years later Ronald Reagan was re-elected in a landslide.  Well its not that simple.  Those two numbers are where the similarities end.  Our situation today is completely different than it was 28 years ago.

Sure the economy was just as poor, sure we were going through some kind of jobless recovery.  But nothing like this.  We had money then.  Yes, before the 1990’s Americans saved money.  And when we did not save, we lived from day to day.  In 2010 its nothing like that.  No one saves money, we live on credit, day to day is a dream for a lot of folks.  Now of course as much as the right would want to pin this on Clinton or Obama, and the left on Bush, its not their fault despite president Bush telling us to go shopping after 9-11 and wanting everyone to own a home.

The politicians did help to create the larger fiasco, but not our rampart consumerism.  They did not tell us to buy cars we don’t need on credit, or televisions we could not afford, again, with credit.  Or anything else we wanted now!  On Credit of course.  In the 1980’s America was still a manufacturing nation.  In the 90’s we were switching over to a service economy, but with a dotcom boom the switch was quite painless and we actually prospered.  However we started to spend beyond our means.  And we kept it up all through the next decade too.

But then even our service jobs started to get outsourced.  And so to keep our economy going we kept spending.  And here we are.  10% unemployment.  And no prospect of recovery.  When the economy picked up during the Reagan era up the people went back to factories.  Today there are no factories to go back to.  The only way we can quickly recover from this recession is to go back to our pre 2008 ways.  Spend, spend, spend.  But that would mean a bigger disaster a few years from now.  So that is not an option.

So what is left for us?  Hope that the financial sector, the one we bailed out, recovers and that people will feel secure enough to start hiring enough workers for us to get out of this mess?  Well they would do it on credit too basically.  And we would not go back to work to our old jobs on our old salaries.  Everyone would want to save money, employers as much as employees.  So less money for basically the same work.  Right now many people would jump on that chance.  That is how desperate times are.

We lived on greed.  All of us.  No one is a saint here.  No one is more at fault than the next guy.  Yes even if the next guy used to run AIG or Goldman Sachs.  They might have knowingly cheated many people out of their lives and homes, but those people went willingly.  Because of greed people bought houses and cars they could not afford, they only heard what they wanted to hear.  After all, life was so good for so long, surely it must go on.  But go on it could not.

Yes everyone was telling us to buy, buy, buy, but no one told us to save.  We all became the instant gratification generation, no matter how old.  “On Demand” was not just for cable companies, it was a slogan for all of us.  And we demanded everything, now.  No money?  No problem, someone will give us credit.  Have a mortgage or a paid off house?  We’ll give you more money now, just refinance and you can buy more shit.  And all of a sudden families with hardly any bills found themselves with a lot of bills.  Bills they hardly could pay.  But no worries, more credit coming soon.

Both spouses were working.  One losing a job automatically meant a lower standard of living.  With hardly any savings and most likely a lot of credit it meant disaster for a lot of people.  Both losing jobs meant being thrown out of one’s house.  Yes many were fooled or talked into bad loans by greedy agents.  But they wanted all those things.  After all, having a lot of useless shit became a status symbol in America.  And with technology the way it is now, there was a lot of stuff to spend money on, oops sorry, credit not money, we had no money.

And so here we are.  Penniless, no jobs, barely making minimum payments.  What are our prospects of recovery.  Grim I say.  Its not like America can go on a housing boom to create jobs and stimulate spending.  We make nothing.  A lot of our service jobs were outsourced.  Who will hire us?  And what jobs can we do?

There is no magic bullet to fix this.  We can’t rebuild America, we can’t afford to.  Our brightest minds became bankers and stock brokers, not scientists and entrepreneurs.  Energy?  Right…  Like we ever are going to do anything serious about energy.  The ongoing 40 year debate that never ends.  Full of promises and no answers because we don’t have the willpower to change any more.  So where?  What will save us?  What will make us great?  Do tell if you know, cause I have no idea….

Two Americas?

Our best and only hope would be the government.  But…  yes, there is a but.  Our government had spent like we did.  Tax cuts, two wars, program after program and here were are, in debt with no prospect of ever paying it off.  Our government is a reflection of us.  Irresponsible overspending with no prospect of recovery.  In the old days we would build huge dams or a new road network.  The whole infrastructure would be rebuilt.  But the government has no way to pay for it.  We have no income.  We cut taxes so much that even in great times we still would be running a deficit.  And those two pesky wars we’ve been fighting for years now.  There was no thought to pay for them.  We wanted our cake (cakes actually) and to eat them too.

The last time we tried to fight a long war without making sacrifices as a nation we ended up with the seventies.  Awful inflation, rising unemployment, American national unity almost destroyed.  Now inflation is not a problem really.  Unemployment is high, and we are as divided as we ever were barring 4 years of killing each other.  We can’t even have a decent political debate on anything.  And I mean anything.  We are becoming two separate blocs opposed to one another instead of being one nation that has political disagreements.  Everything is becoming a political fight.  Today “debate” means screaming at one another and calling the other side names.

We stopped listening.  Whatever the other side says we assume they are wrong and that we must oppose them before they even finish.  As soon as they shut their mouths we start our idiotic and incoherent and senseless rants.  Even when they propose things we proposed just few years ago. Compromise became a dirty word.  Is this America?

Have we become so divided that we can’t agree on anything?  I thought being American meant standing together in tough times.  Just 9 years ago everyone waved the flag and spoke of unity when faced with danger.  Well we are still in danger.  And we are in as much trouble as ever before.  And what now?  Fuck you?  I will work for America only when its the America that I want?  And fuck everyone who disagrees with me?  Are we even still proud of our country?  Or have the talking heads on television and the politicians destroyed that America?

The America I love used to be able to do shit.  Hoover Dam?  No problem.  Skyscrapers?  How high do you want them?  Interstate Highway System?  Sure.  Land on the moon?  No worries.  What have we done lately that as a nation we can be proud of?  What gets us up in the morning as a people?  We had problems before.  Its not as we did all those things in perfect times.  We were divided then.  Racism, immigration, wars, political and economic divides.  Those were always the background to the great things we did.  We didn’t stop as a nation because we disagreed.  We disagreed and still kept on.

The greatest generation fought a war.  Those left home lived on rations and all worked towards one goal.  They worked in factories, they fed the troops, they bought bonds, they paid taxes.  All that to win, get the boys back home and go on living our lives.  What do we have now?  Two wars, hundreds of thousand of our men and women deployed over the years, thousands dead and wounded.  And what do we do here?  We buy shit.  Not one sacrifice!  No one asked us to do anything for our country.  We wanted a painless war, two wars actually.  No one suggested how we were going to pay for the wars.  Nope, we went to Best Buy and we bought fucking tv’s and video games.

Absolute madness.  The pinnacle of selfishness, greed and irresponsibility.  No politician asked how we are going to pay for all of this either.  But somehow we pretend that we care.  Do we really?  What have we sacrificed?  How do we care?  Buying a Chinese made cheap American flag does not make one a patriot.  Its like wearing those stupid coloured bracelets.  The American flag became a fashion symbol.  Look at me, I bought a $20 flag, I am a proud American.  Yet I did not raise hell when I found out our troops went into combat with substandard equipment.  But I have a yellow ribbon on my lapel so its ok.

Its pathetic.  Just how stupid are we as a people?  How ignorant can we get?  How biased can we become?  How intolerant?  And we have become intolerant.  Yes, we were a racist nation with a dark and shameful past, but over the years we overcame that and moved on to become better.  But now were are going back.  One would think that all this education and technology would make us more knowledgeable, more worldly, more tolerant.  But we keep doing the same shit over and over.  Blacks were going to integrate.  Quick, hide the white women!  Yeah, cause black people are so scary.  Now gays want to marry, and all of a sudden marriage is the most sacred of things.  This in a country whose divorce rate approaches 50%.  Laughable.  As if gays marrying was going to change our lives so much.  It does nothing to us.  If your religion allows gays to marry, change churches.  That simple.  The government is supposed to be separated from religion.  Its not that big of a deal if two dudes want to marry.

You can come up with as many pathetic straw grasping excuses, but it changes nothing.  Gay marriage is a private issue.  And the people who usually claim they love freedom and do not want government interference now want the government to interfere and want to take away someone’s right to marry.  How big of a hypocrite can you be?  Why are we even talking about this.  Its a non issue really.  We have real problems.  Two homos getting hitched should be way down on people’s lists.

But no, we fight over stupid shit.  The only people who are affected by this are the gay people.  Those who don’t like it, just don’t go when you’re invited, and don’t send them a gift.  Fuck em.  Let them buy their own shitty toaster.

Some Muslim group wants to build a cultural center and a Mosque a few blocks away from where the Twin Towers stood apparently.  How the hell is this news?  How did this turn into a debate?  Islam is a religion.  We have freedom of religion in this country.  If someone wants to build a center and a church then fucking let them.  Its that simple.  End of story.  Why should I care, I live in NYC, I wont be going to their silly center.  Not my problem.

But apparently I am supposed to care somehow.  Why?  Are we at war with the whole of Islam?  All Muslims terrorists?  Are we going to built camps for them like we did for the Japanese in the 40’s?  Have we learned nothing?  A few thousand lunatics speak for a over a billion people?  You want to give more of them an excuse?  You want to alienate a whole society?  All 7 million Muslims in America now have to pay because of a few lunatics?  Is that it?  Group responsibility?  Is the whole Catholic Church evil because some priests molested kids?  Are all the mega churches corrupt and full of fags because a few of their reverends turned out to be not so holy?  Ground Zero is holy ground now that no Muslim can step near it?

And I do love the excuses.  Because Saudi fucking Arabia does not allow churches, therefore fuck our fellow American citizens.  Really?  Saudi Arabia has now become what we measure ourselves against?  We want to be just like Saudi Arabia or a tiny bit better?  Cause I’m starting to get confused.  When President Bush was invading Afghanistan and Iraq he stressed that our fight is not with the Afghan and Iraqi people, nor Islam, but with the lunatics who aim to harm us.  But now America wants to take on the whole of Islam?  Are we fighting fundamentalist murders or the whole lot?  If the latter, then burn down every mosque.  If not, then what the hell is the problem?

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Famous last words.  Well, can’t we?  Do we need to resemble opposing fundamentalists in every debate no matter how trivial?  When has “compromise” become a dirty word?  Seriously!  Has it really come to this?  Are we going to now live in a divided country when the minority will do everything to sabotage the majority at every opportunity?  Is “NO!” going to be the official minority party slogan?  Not having a go at one particular party, but all of them, all of us.  I do not write this as a Republican or a Democrat, a leftie or a conservative.  I write this as an American.  A very concerned American.  The political landscape has been poisoned.  The politicians still make speeches about how they want to work with those across the aisle.  How they will compromise to achieve consensus.  The other side still pretends to look disappointed if it was not included in the process and something was done by one party.  But we know they are not.  We know they don’t want to.  We know that they want to lay all blame, and will minimize any credit when it concerns the other side.  I am actually waiting for the not too distant future when one or the other party will take power and instead of the usual empty bullshit they will say “Well, fuck you all, this is our time, we will do what we damn well please.”  At least they would be honest for a change.  of course the opposition would say “we wont give the bastards an inch!”

But, last time I checked we were not a nation of fundamentalist lunatics.  The majority are not either left wing nutters or right wing psychos.  We’re Americans, we’re sane.  Middle of the road kind of folks who get along with their neighbours.  We have our beliefs but are willing to listen to what the other man has to say.  We debate politics.  We look at issues.  We make up our minds after considering the issue, not by looking at which party is in power and America be damned as long as I get what I want, or at least I stop the other guy.  How have we become such loonies?  And if we are not, then why do we let the lunatics run the asylum.  And how in the hell do we let them get away with all this shit?  These people are supposed to be representing me and you.  They act in our name.  What they do reflects on us.  And we let them do this?  How?

Should we just divide the country up now and who ever does not like us let him move to the other side we wont tolerate dissent?  Perhaps we could fight a nice war over it?  Oh that’s right, we can’t afford one.  Where is the great America?  Where is the land that other nations used to look up to?  We still say we are number one, but are we really?  What have we done to deserve it?  How are we to lead the world if we can’t have a single civilized debate?

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