Friday, March 11, 2011

Circling the Drain

I have reached the age where thinking about the end game of life is more than an abstract concept. My health is fine, and I fully expect to be around at least another twenty-five years, but what were casual thoughts in my thirties are now concrete obstacles that must either be dealt with or maneuvered around. I’m hoping to get to retirement before the current political climate makes the working economy unendurable, with the idea that Social Security and Medicare will remain relatively intact for a while longer, as the ability of Republicans and the Tea Party to play groups against each other there is minimal. No  one wants old people living under bridges, scrounging meals from Dumpsters. I hope.

What is most discouraging is that I see no way not to leave my daughter and grandchildren a worse country than I inherited. I have no delusions, there; the country I inherited had plenty of issues. I was born before meaningful civil rights legislation, during the Cold War (though, thankfully, no wars of the shooting variety), not too long after Joe McCarthy’s self-serving inquisition. It was also a time when working people could join the middle class and not have to live from paycheck to paycheck and could reasonably expect their children to go to college and improve themselves, attitudes that only increased in the Sixties.

What will I leave? A country where “every man for himself” has more significant meaning than any time since the Oklahoma land rush. No fiscal responsibility in government or the population that elects it. Fiscal responsibility? Hell, there’s no fiscal sanity. Political “leaders’ tell us we have to cut the deficit by trimming only programs that make up about 12% of the government; Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid are off-limits. Tax increases, even for those who have most benefitted by the frenzy of tax reduction in upper income strata, is unmentionable in civil discourse.

So cuts to “discretionary” spending it must be. You know what constitutes “discretionary” spending? Food safety inspections. Occupational safety. Prescription drug testing. Highways and infrastructure. Education. People in Pennsylvania can light their tap water with a match due to gases released from a coal-mining technique known as fracking, and the governor is working to make the regulations less stringent.

The salient purposes of government are to protect the population, to provide what individuals cannot provide for themselves, and to level the playing field at least enough to prevent the advantaged running roughshod over those with less power. Not here. Not anymore. Now it’s to pad the lives of those who can best afford to take advantage of the system. Corporations have more rights than people.

I hope my time doesn’t come for a while yet. There are things I want to do, and people I want to spend time with. But when it does come, I’m not going to miss this shit one bit. I’ll just feel badly I wasn’t able to think of anything productive to do about it.

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