Posted by: distributorcap | July 6, 2010

Bye Bye Miss American Pie

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not religious, that I do not believe in any sort of afterlife and that if there was a God, he would have found another planet to oversee a long time ago.

But in that mix of atheism, agnosticism, apathy and doubt, I do believe that a society (as opposed to just one person) is judged by how it treats the various members of that said society. Being that no society since the dawn of civilization (a term used very loosely) has even been so homogeneous to include just a privileged class – that final judgment will almost always manifest itself in how the weakest are acknowledged and cared for.

“Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.”
Pearl S. Buck, My Several Worlds [1954].

“A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.”
Samuel Johnson, Boswell: Life of Johnson

“The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.”
John E.E. Dalberg, Lord Acton, The History of Freedom in Antiquity [1877].

“…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
Last Speech of Hubert H. Humphrey [November 1977]

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man”
Mahatma Ghandi

The above quotes highlight five groups from which any society will be ultimately be judged based on how they are treated and integrated (in no particular order):

  1. Children
  2. Elderly
  3. Infirmed & Handicapped
  4. Needy & Poor
  5. Animals

Somewhere in the past 234 years, this country has been transformed from a society that grew and cared abouts its members to one that has come to believe that anyone who is weak and cannot stand up for themselves is really a just a parasite and cancer on that society. (I will go out on a limb at date the inception of that philosophy to January 20, 1981). Our success did not breed altruism, rather is fostered greed.

As spokesperson from the any of the 5 groups above will tell you – America in 2010 has failed or is failing all five of them. If you are a rich white person with good health – you probably do not have a lot to complain about. But based on how our business, spiritual, media and political leaders have acted during the past 30 years, Judgment Day for the US will not look like a July 4th Celebration. Bombs will not be bursting in mid air.

Again, anyone who knows me knows how cynical I have become about this great American Society. We are not that great. In fact we are not that good. I have very strong doubts about this country’s long-term survival as a union of 50 states. The glue that holds a society together – a common bond for the good of all its citizens, a national purpose to better the entire society, and a way for those on the outside to be welcome on the inside – has come undone. Sometimes it seems that is every man for himself.

As things turned sour, instead of looking to ourselves for solutions (which ultimately means acknowledging mistakes), many Americans began to turn its back on the weakest – which means the groups above. I do not know if it is human psychology or a sociological fact – but it is never “my fault” – someone else is always to blame for failure. It wasn’t too long ago that the Germans blamed the Jews for their collapse. In many ways, there is a similar blame game going on in the US. And that most hated group in the US today? It is not minorities, not immigrants, not gays, not Palin-worshippers, not atheists, and not doves – but the poor (although a disproportionate amount of the poor are minorities and immigrants). If you listen to the teabaggers and the right – you hear that the poor are ruining this country.

The anger toward health care reform, the hateful talk about those collecting unemployment insurance, the indifference towards the ecological disaster in the gulf (the only disaster talked incessantly about on the right is the economic disaster, not the ecological), the trauma in passing S-CHIP, the resentment at immigrants (legal as well as illegal), privatization talk about Social Security, the continuing choice of guns over butter – all prove beyond a shadow of a doubt how much this country hates poor people.

After all poor people are nothing more than a drain on society. For every dollar they contribute, they are pulling $3-$4 dollar out of the our pockets. The government is nothing more than a cash register for the needy. These are people who do nothing and would rather lie around watching American Idol than earn $7.15 an hour flipping burgers or unpacking crap made in China. Hard-luck stories or event beyond their control (like shipping jobs over to China to make the crap they don’t want to unpack) mean nothing. Anyone on the government dole is a tumor that needs a strong dose of chemo.

If you read between the lines of Beck, Palin, Hannity, Limbaugh and especially the teabaggers – shipping these leaches off to a place like Poorschwitz would make this a better place – there would ultimately be more for society’s most productive members. Sharron Angle called the unemployed “spoiled.” Reagan claimed the poor drove around in Cadillacs.

Since hating the poor is technically not socially acceptable, Palin and the teabaggers have taken the easy way out – disguising their hate towards the people they consider bloodsuckers with resentment towards groups that have virtually no voice and practically zero allies – immigrants, children, animals and the infirmed.

I really wonder how long any society can stay together when the commonality is rejection and hate as opposed to inclusion and betterment. And exactly who are Palin and Limbaugh going to hate when they get rid of the poor. I have a few ideas – and we all know who they are.

With the mass mainstream media continuing to drive the narrative that paranoia is the panacea (“how can the world hate us? but since the world does hate us, we just have to destroy everything that is making our lives so miserable) sure as I am sitting at this keyboard – you can expect that the threads that hold America together will continue to come undone – and the 5 groups that reside near the bottom of the ladder will suffer the most.

Why did I pick 1/20/81 as the day the music died:

“What we have found in this country, and maybe we’re more aware of it now, is one problem that we’ve had, even in the best of times, and that is the people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless, you might say, [are there] by choice.”
Ronald Reagan [1984]

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Responses

  1. Fabulous post. Very well said. This country had better turn around soon. I like to remind people that on the quarter it says "E Pluribus Unum." From many, one, and not every man for himself.

  2. piny (gmb) – i personally think it is too late – i dont think we can be rectified as a nation. I know, a pessimist – but NOTHING in the past 30 years has given us reason to believe in a future for ALL of us – just a privileged few.as poor as the current administration is, the next one come this Nov will be worse – and they are chomping at the bit to put the nails in the coffin. The recent pronoucements about unemployment are just the tip of the iceberg

  3. It's funny (odd, I mean) how so many of our ills go back to Saint Ronnie; he really started us off in the conservative clown car heading towards the cliff. Chimpy just put the pedal to the metal.Regards,Tengrain

  4. It's funny (odd, I mean) how so many of our ills go back to Saint Ronnie; he really started us off in the conservative clown car heading towards the cliff. Chimpy just put the pedal to the metal.Regards,Tengrain

  5. (the only disaster talked incessantly about on the right is the economic disaster, not the ecological)Good point!

  6. "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."John Kennedy, inaugural address, 1/21/61St. Ronnie was a catalyst, but he tapped into something that was already there. Maybe it's because I'm a southerner that I think this way, but to me it always comes back to race. In the 60s, a lot of white America patted themselves on the back for supporting civil rights legislation and figured that black America should be grateful to them. The urban riots created a white backlash among those who thought blacks were ingrates. Pretty soon, they start thinking that all welfare dollars go to minorities even though whites were getting by the biggest payout. Suddenly, there's a conviction that white tax dollars are going to ungrateful, indolent blacks who have nothing better to do than break the law. Nixon comes along with his law and order code words, setting the stage for St. Ronnie. That's my version of late 20th C. American history, anyway.The lazy black stereotype predates the Civil War, and show how deeply ingrained racial attitudes can get. How slaves breaking their backs harvesting sugar cane can be lazy while their masters lounging on a veranda drinking mint juleps can epitomize the work ethic eludes me, but people bought into it nonetheless.

  7. A most perceptive post. Reagan's administration was the beginning of the "me generation" and it's only gotten worse. "I'm sorry you're lying there dying but you're in my way."

  8. The rich and the middle class hate the poor because they fear they may one day join their ranks.When my grandparents immigrated to the USA in 1910 from Italy, they were truly dirt poor. They each carried a suitcase containing their clothes and a few personal items.All their earthly belongings in two suitcases.They worked six days a week, for more than 50 years. Being dirt poor molded and shaped their character. It fueled a profound work ethic in them.But, once they had money, they were unflappably generous and charitable to people who had less.I remember reading how Dick Cheney's income was reported one year to be in the $30 million dollar range and as a percentage of income, he gave less than 1% to charity.My grandparents — hardly rich, I am confident gave more to charity in their lives than Dick Cheney ever gave in his miserable lifetime.

  9. Christopher:Good on your grandparents. Philanthropic organizations will tell you that the biggest donors to charity are the poor — they give a much larger part of their income than the Dick Cheneys, who are the real parasites.

  10. I share your fear over what our country has turned into. I find myself wishing in the dark corners of my mind that Skyler does not outlive me, because I know that he will not be cared for properly.

  11. Ugh! that Reagan quote is awful. But hypocritical– Reagan is responsible for the closing of mental health hospitals in California and across the United States. Is it any wonder that California seems to have all of the crazy homeless people? State mental hospitals were taken away by Governor Reagan in the seventies, and federal mental health programs were later taken away by President Reagan in the eighties.When Ronald Reagan was governor of California he systematically began closing down mental hospitals, later as president he would cut aid for federally-funded community mental health programs. It is not a coincidence that the homeless populations in the state of California grew in the seventies and eighties. The people were put out on the street when mental hospitals started to close all over the state.Seeing an increase in crime, and brutal murders by Herb Mullin, a mental hospital patient, the state legislature passed a law that would stop Reagan from closing even more state-funded mental health hospitals. But Reagan would not be outdone. In 1980, congress proposed new legislation (PL 96-398) called the community mental health systems act (crafted by Ted Kennedy), but the program was killed by newly-elected President Ronald Reagan. This action ended the federal community mental health centers program and its funding.In closing, the next time you pass by a homeless person on the streets, screaming to themselves at the top of their lungs, remember Reagan. And if your kids need to go out and get jobs at age 9 to pay down the national debt, be sure to tell them that they can thank Ronald Reagan, and President Bush, for their misfortune.Those people dumped on the streets from mental hospitals are there by choice– Ronald Reagan's choice, that is. When many States in the Union are now facing billions in budget deficits, you know which programs get slashed first….Children ~ EducationElderlySick & HandicappedNeedy & PoorAnimalsA sad but true post D Cap

  12. Hi Cap;“As a child I understood how to give, I have forgotten this grace since I have become civilized.”…..Luther Standing BearI think you discovered the reason for the decline.I believe in God, although not the one portrayed in many written works. What you believe is up to you, it does not take away the fact you are a human being.I also think the following is appropriate.“The earth does not belong to man. Man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand to it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.”

  13. I wish you were not so articulate. Now I am depressed. I need a beer. Probably more than a few. 'Cause 1. I am a child at heart 2. I'm getting old 3. I am sick and tired 4. I am out of work & poor 5. I feel like an abused dog

  14. It's things like this that make me want to toss my keyboard. I wish I could have said it as well, although I've been trying. . .

  15. This is the most right-on post of any that I've read in several years. You have articulated my stream of conscientiousness in a way that I could never do.I have become the cynic of cynics regards this country and it's selfishness. This post says it all for me. We're screwed…

  16. I wonder if Reagan was in the throes of dementia when he said that?He was a class A asshole. Death really became him.

  17. You hit it DCap and you are correct in that it will continue to "come undone". We're not getting this back.To me the Ronnie era also was the start of pure unaccountability in government and it continues and is much worse today.Well hot damn I just don't recall ya know dere.I love my country and would do it again-I'm a marine we don't cry we just get teary eyed a whole bunch when we talk about da motherland.I am beginning to think that there are not that many who share this view you have written about and that's bothersome.Thanks!

  18. You now what irritates me?If I stand up for people's rights, welfare, unemployment, food stamps and things representing compassion, they call me weak kneed liberal.I am more conservative at times about other things and they brand me as right wing nut.I am neither of those things. I'm just a human being with kids, grandchildren and a family.I think a lot of people are like that.We should ignore the extremists. When the audience goes away, maybe they will too.Or maybe people like me should just take over. 🙂

  19. What a great post. I'm afraid we've moved too far to the right as a nation to ever get back. The rightwing media has been so effective in convincing Americans that it's okay to act on their worst impulses that I don't see a way to get back to a time where it would be considered normal to think beyond your own needs. Was there ever such a time?

  20. I feel like you do, DCap. The media keeps people dumb and distracted. I don't have a tv, but I can't even escape pop culture. I shouldn't know who Lindsay Lohan is, but I do.

  21. you guys all flatter me – and inspire me.thanks for all your insight and thoughtsi hate being such a pessimist – but they way things are going, the negativity just keeps getting reinforced.and with a country that is SO SELF UNAWARE – i still hear people (in this liberal center called NYC) – that will vote for people like Peter King or even Sarah Palin just because they "will lower our taxes." there is never a thought for anyone but themselves. they think sending a $50 check to Cancer Care or dropping a quarter in a homeless guy's can is enough to satisfy "community" the fact that people like Palin and Boner talk with only fear in their voice doesnt matter. all that matters is how it affects "me." the fact that obama has not reversed the 30 year decline in 18 months means he is a failure in many (if not most) Americans minds. Add to it he is a black man who has "not succeeded" and you have a double tragedy. dont get me wrong – i think Obama has been a big disappointment, but i KNOW that having John Boner, Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell running Congress will guarantee the slippery slope gets oilier – so to speak. personally i dont think there is any turning back. this nation will not last this century. not a chance. and it probably shouldnt – why would i want to live in the same country with ANYONE who can actually find any good in Sarah Palin or who would vote for her. the best that can happen is that we are Czechoslovakia and not Yugoslavia.oh and fuck you Glenn Beck – you are the worst piece of shit imaginable.

  22. D-Cap, what you said. And thanks to Fran for the history lesson.

  23. I'm previously self-employed.Could *never* afford health insurance (something I didn't even need years ago to see a doctor) and now in a wheelchair, have several cats, eat via foodstamps.I was the American Dream at one point.Never overweight and spending my time in front of the TV.Now I make my only money via Ebay, selling garage sale type items.All the local stores are gone and a Walmart and Target take all my community's money. Much of that is sent to China.It's pretty much over for me now and I'm in no way unique. Yet I'm not even 50 years old.But when I die I can do so knowing I didn't rob or cheat anyone. I guess there's no real point to my post other than to say thanks for something so well-written.This from someone who understands how right you are firsthand.

  24. i am going to be uncharacteristically optimistic. are we really worse than we used to be? i don't mean economically or politically, but in a spiritual way, not religious, but what is in the hearts of most americans. yes, there are plenty who will vilify anyone unlike themselves, but i don't believe that they are in the majority. i think what's happened is that there are a lot of megaphones that are available for the haters and the selfish and the bigoted. that doesn't mean there are more of them; they're just louder. the fact that they have soapboxes like faux news and the hate radio shows to spout their hate gives others like them permission to stand up and be counted. they no longer have to wear white sheets and meet somewhere in the woods. that doesn't mean that it's any more widespread that it was before. it's more publicized, it's more open, and there will always be a certain percentage of people who think like they do. however, i still think that most people are good and empathetic. i don't believe the polls, because they're worded and interpreted to achieve the wanted result. districts are so gerrymandered that you can't really read into election results to figure out where the average american stands on most issues. the worst thing that can happen is for good people to think that all is lost, and there's no use in fighting anymore. now i can get back to my normal state of cynicism.

  25. Lisa: Don't despair. Eventually, young people will rebel against the attitude you describe. It might well be the current generation, as they're heading into a country brought low by their parents' grasping.DC: Obama hasn't disappointed me in the least. I think he's great at understanding exactly what he can squeeze out of the system and getting it. That's what community organizers do. I have no complaints.

  26. K;You may have forgotten that the generation that got us into this mess was the anti materialist, peace loving, pot smoking, stop the war in 'Nam crowd.We have changed and became worse than the generation which preceeded us.Why?Because we achieved middle classedness and got comfortable living like little despots in our McMansions and traveling where we chose to see fit.We trained our kids to be just like us. 🙂

  27. You hit the nail on the head, I think. Although the truly insidious part is how the blame game works by playing these groups off each other.My elderly mother who was a Civil Rights activist for most of her career as an educator is now one of the most vehemently anti-immigration folks I know. She practically spits the word "Mexican" and cusses in the presence of people speaking Spanish. It's disturbing, to say the least. She would cop to care for the poor, gays, animals, the young, the elderly — but on immigration, she could be a Republican (or possibly a Minute Man Militia type).I've tried to talk with her about this, but the lure of a scapegoat is hard to give up, even for some life-long liberals and otherwise critical thinkers.So, when you say in the comments section that you don't see us correcting this trend, I am inclined to agree. And well, so deeply sad, that.

  28. Ichabod, there's something wrong with peace?

  29. Hi K;Nothing wrong with peace, but it appears we lost a sense of that from the Hippie era.That is what disturbs me, so many have lost that 'feeling' 🙂

  30. Bungy32;I was in a place in Mexico, listening to a blues singer from LA who was down for the weekend and a table of 7 or 8 Americans in their thirties and early forties were partying.I kept hearing "F__king Mexicans" etc.The waiters and staff were all Mexican and understood English.I knew the workers, some of them were my friends, had families and were good at what they did.I was about ready to get up and remind these people they were guests of Mexico, not the other way around and they left.That happens too frequently, or the "patronizing" type who look down their noses at you with a smile on their face.If it was an isolated incident, it wouldn't be so bad. That causes a reaction. Next time some good people go to visit they may encounter reverse discrimination.No one wins.

  31. I'm lost, Ich. the hippies had a dark side, but name me someone who doesn't. My late wife embodied the best part of the hippie ethos: Sweet, gentle, listened to great music, and believed in live and let live. We could all do worse.

  32. as usual slappz you show what a fucking asshole you areyou know you are not welcome here but you insist on leaving your turd droppings in a place where no one wants to see what you have written, nor does anyone believe a word you say.i should leave up the comment so people can see what a moron you are – but i rather not have these bytes polluted with your ignorance.

  33. Dunno where the Slapster got his data from, but–1. You can't meaningfully extrapolate that results from one state to the other 49 (each state has its own disbursement policy);2. New York's costs are relatively under control (see charts here;3. The new health care law won't be in full effect until 2015, so it's far too soon to draw any conclusions outside of the CBO scoring, which predicts that it will lower the deficit slightly or be deficit-neutral.As the JAMA article (see link) shows, some states have higher costs than others, but they cluster in a swath running from Montana and North Dakota through Texas: Supposedly tight-fisted red states.

  34. first thanks to all of you for your insight and of course educating mesecond K- ignore slappz. he is a racist bastard who hates anyone who isnt white and rich. he thinks he knows everything (go read his blog if you have a barf bag). i think he works for one of the financial firms that has raped this country – and he of course blames all the "little people" for the financial crisis (you should see what he says about the Community Reinvestment Act) – i actually hate him more than people like Rush – because with Rush you know what you get. Slappz likes to throw his made up facts around and proclaim it as the gospel.sadly there are too many slappz on this planetenough venting

  35. //oh and fuck you Glenn Beck – you are the worst piece of shit imaginable.//.. boy… you gotz that right!GMB…//I shouldn't know who Lindsay Lohan is, but I do.//I still don't. I think she is just filler when Fox dosen't want to report 'News'DC.."sadly there are too many slappz on this planet"Yupperz. What's worse….they have infiltrated! I wonder if Orkin can handle them!

  36. Great post, even if I'm not quite as depressed or cynical about our future as most seem to be. Being an atheist in the Buckle of the Bible Belt here in middle Tenn, I understand the contradictions between what the good Christian neighbors say and what they actually do. I've seen political discussion go from debate to rage in the past few years, and have been part of the annual arguments over the holiday turkeys (it's tough being the family progressive).But as bleak as our future looks now, and as deserving of the ass-kicking as the Dems might be for letting this great opportunity pass so easily back to the merchants of evil who brought us to this sorry state of affairs, we can't lose sight of the fact that we owe it to the generations to follow to do better than what's being done now. Better on the environment, better on political appointments to appeals courts that will decide future law, better on equal rights for ALL, better on a more productive national discourse. We will survive as a country, and those of us who actively worked for progressive causes will always be remembered well in the fair light of history… it's a good fight we fight.

  37. Great post, even if I'm not quite as depressed or cynical about our future as most seem to be. Being an atheist in the Buckle of the Bible Belt here in middle Tenn, I understand the contradictions between what the good Christian neighbors say and what they actually do. I've seen political discussion go from debate to rage in the past few years, and have been part of the annual arguments over the holiday turkeys (it's tough being the family progressive).But as bleak as our future looks now, and as deserving of the ass-kicking as the Dems might be for letting this great opportunity pass so easily back to the merchants of evil who brought us to this sorry state of affairs, we can't lose sight of the fact that we owe it to the generations to follow to do better than what's being done now. Better on the environment, better on political appointments to appeals courts that will decide future law, better on equal rights for ALL, better on a more productive national discourse. We will survive as a country, and those of us who actively worked for progressive causes will always be remembered well in the fair light of history… it's a good fight we fight.

  38. Great post, even if I'm not quite as depressed or cynical about our future as most seem to be. Being an atheist in the Buckle of the Bible Belt here in middle Tenn, I understand the contradictions between what the good Christian neighbors say and what they actually do. I've seen political discussion go from debate to rage in the past few years, and have been part of the annual arguments over the holiday turkeys (it's tough being the family progressive).But as bleak as our future looks now, and as deserving of the ass-kicking as the Dems might be for letting this great opportunity pass so easily back to the merchants of evil who brought us to this sorry state of affairs, we can't lose sight of the fact that we owe it to the generations to follow to do better than what's being done now. Better on the environment, better on political appointments to appeals courts that will decide future law, better on equal rights for ALL, better on a more productive national discourse. We will survive as a country, and those of us who actively worked for progressive causes will always be remembered well in the fair light of history… it's a good fight we fight.

  39. slappzare you that desparate for attention that you have to write hereyou really are a loser

  40. I would like to exchange links with your site http://www.blogger.comIs this possible?


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