Can We? Confessions of an American Cultural Heretic.



I'm simply not willing to have this particular kind of hope yet. Call me a radical or a skeptic:

I don't believe in individualism, and I don't believe in the free-market--at least not the entirely free market. I don't believe in the goodwill of private industry, left to its own devices, and I don't believe in American superiority. I sure as hell don't believe in the military/industrial complex. I don't believe in private medicine, and I don't believe in your right to sue your provider. I don't believe that the way we've organized ourselves politically is the best we can do, and I don't think corporate lobbies should be allowed a place in government. I don't believe that private organizations are the best equipped to meet social needs, and I don't think that care for our neighbors is best left to the churches. I don't believe that rags to riches is really what America is about. I don't believe in patriotism and I don't believe in nationalism. I don't believe in upper classes and lower classes. I don't believe it's every man for himself. I don't believe that the homeless are lazy. I don't believe that the choice is between the environment and big business. I don't believe that change is really all about hope.

I do believe in a well-regulated and well-organized big government. I believe that taxation can provide better funding for our social support system than tithes. I believe that we have to finally get pragmatic. I believe that America is in no place to claim the title "greatest nation in the world". I believe in well-regulated, government organized and run healthcare systems, transportation and housing infrastructures, student loan programs, and universal public education. (I believe in doing away with private education all together). I believe that we're all in this together. I believe that social oppression is real. I believe that the privileged have a responsibility to the unprivileged. I believe in high taxes. I believe that a non-military solution can be found to almost every problem. I believe that minorities are still getting screwed. I believe that we don't usually change until someone makes us. I believe that we spend twice as much on healthcare as any other country, but get worse outcomes than every other developed nation and several third world countries. I believe that 45 million Americans can't afford to go to the doctor when they get sick or injured. I believe that America has to stop comparing itself to dictatorships with no natural resources, and start comparing itself to countries with similar GDPs per Capita. I believe that will open some eyes. I believe in fair trade. I believe that we are in the midst of a major environmental crisis. I believe that we can figure out how to live without cars. I'm worried about our stockpile of nuclear weapons. I believe we have to take care of our neighbors, personally and nationally. I believe that we could do much better with the resources we've got.

Every candidate in the presidential race this year is a political moderate. Whoever gets elected, steps will be taken in the right direction, but I'm just not convinced that America--or our potential leaders--are really committed to change that will make a difference. Uninspired, I caucused for Hillary because in my estimation her policy moves the furthest towards pragmatism and justice, and I'll vote for Obama when he wins the nomination because he at least gives us a foundational belief that we can change things, if not policies that will really solve the problems. America, though, needs a serious wake up call, and I can't believe that we generally don't see that. We've dug ourselves into a hole, and we have to get serious about change if we're going to dig ourselves out.

Comments

yelsewesley said…
As always, Timmy, grain of salt:

1. That was the best praise chorous i've ever seen/heard. I wish they'd incorporated MLK jr somehow--maybe a radical soundbyte--something. And where was Dr. Devon Brown and his harmonica? MLK jr would really have tied it all together, though. He's the biggest political tool no person of color or guilt should be without. There aint no sophistry like MLKjr sophistry...O'bama needs ta rekanize.

2. Voting is for rich people. Rich people who feel guilty for something. Rich people who want socialism and can afford the 60% taxes that come with it. Man, I get a hard-on thinking about unwilingly giving up over half my pathetic income. Oh, you know what? Maybe I could get three jobs...Ooo, Ooo, I know, I could become a man of the cloth and fill people's heads with nonsense that I'm not even sure about myself--and get paid for it, steadily working my way to bishop. Shit, I'm set now. That blue collar life is for fuckwits. You're my inspiration. I'm going to re-enroll in seminary as soon as our new fancy government gives more grants than precious student loans. But first, I need to go out into the woods to ask god which denomination is true...hmm.

3. You're a radical and a skeptic...and you'd make a fine classical liberal if you'd tweak a few things. Just a few.
Tim Mathis said…
I thought I might get a spirited response on that one. I'm wound up on this, but I've been in a wound up mood lately, so I'm going to roll with it.

3. Classical liberal, socialist, pinko--all generally accurate and helpfully dismissive.

2. You've impressively picked up on the way socialism/liberalism works--60% taxes on the working class goes into a pot to make nice roads and parks, and to educate upper class folks to a PhD level in philosophy and theology. That's why there is a much larger impoverished class in nations with higher taxes, lower overall GDPs per capita and broad social programming like Sweden and Canada and New Zealand, and why the US is such a fantastic place to live for the poor. Here they get to keep their $7.15 an hour and only have to worry about paying for housing that's unaffordable, healthcare that's unaffordable, education that's unaffordable and food that's unaffordable. Until they lose their jobs--which weren't protected by legal regulation--and can't find others because they've all been shipped out on the NAFTA/CAFTA free market. Because we live in the land of the free, if they're lucky a giant storm will demolish their town's shoddy infrastructure, and they'll be able to find a church that will finance a move to a new city away from family, friends and troubles, or send in a youth group to build them a nice new home. As long as they don't get sick or ambitious, things should be fine from there out.

Granted, the wealthier classes do really struggle here: we've got to worry about how big our tax rebate is going to be, and then decide how much we'll have to donate to charity or the democratic party in order to assuage our crippling guilt. I'm just planning on giving all of mine to my old friends the fuckwits at the warehouse and moving to Canada, so folks down here don't get corrupted by my political radicalism. You're my inspiration

1. I guess I can't argue there.
bluecollarwes said…
Oh I'm just havin liberal fun with your liberal sensibilities. I perceived your wound-up state of mind, and couldnt resist. You should know we dont really disagree on a whole lot.

While working at my pleasant local blue collar establishment, I had some honest thoughts for a change:
I tend to be too gungho for privitization of many things, while on the other hand many people are overly zealous for socialist ideals. The nasty thing about the good ole USA is that we have the worst part of each, or maybe just no pure working form of either. There are no brilliantly planned social programs here, if any exist anywhere (you believe they do). There is really no free market either; Our incompetent government (local or federal) has its hand in most every aspect of business. (NAFTA has very little to do with free trade and is an example of irony if ever there was one.)

Everything I ever hear you say about social policy is smothered in good intentions and selflessness. And, honestly, who wants to deny housing, health care, and a reasonable standard of living to anyone? Sure, some people would raise a hand, but not too many. And for a government to tackle those issues would require for them to be, as you've stated, well organized and highly efficient ( I would add accountable and responsible to the citizenry). That should be a prerequisite before throwing more money around becomes an option.

As citizens, we're in a position to demand efficient results, as the government should work like a business, i.e if we arent supplied with services promised, kick the bastards out (which is much more difficult to do with a large central gov with large armies and guns, by the way).

At work, my vendors are supposed to supply me with whatever I order, and they have responsibilites to work their own product. I had a problem with one of them, and I wrote the company manager and told him I was not ordering until his guy got in line. I took money out of his pocket, you see. I got a visit from a manager yesterday making sure he could smooth things out for me and gain my business back. If things go well, I will order from them again. See, the government doesnt work that way, as you know well. We cant stop the flow of money when gov services are fucked up and not being handled correctly. Hell, if we stop paying taxes, we go to jail. The whole relationship is completely backwards--we should hold them accountable, not vice-versa. We arent responsible to pay them, they're responsible to provide our services. And if I'm fucking paying to house the homeless, then I better not see a damned homeless sleeping in the park, otherwise I fire/impeach/demote whatever dipshit cant get a bum into a house.

Now, if you want social policies with responsibility, then I hope you get them. And I'll pay for them so long as I have a choice to pay for them. No auto-deduction-bullshit-money-supply with which some redneck can start 10yr war. If I want to pay for pretty roads, I check the "pretty roads" box when I do my taxes. It would be less complicated than the cluster-fuck of forms and codes we have now. If I saw actual positive results from paying taxes and had a choice in paying, I would freely choose many social and internal programs. But I'm not just going to consent to throwing even more money into the hands of the incompetent or unproven and HOPE it works like it should in theory. Is that remotely fair? It's unrealistic to believe that we'll ever have a choice in taxation, but you understand my concern and angle, I hope. If its taken unwillingly, its theft--or rape if we're talking about taxed ass. Theft and rape are baaaad.
Tim Mathis said…
Man, you've always been annoying like that...

The fact is, which you've probably picked up on, I actually don't have much hope for the US because our governmental system is inherently inefficient, and extremely difficult to change. At this point we are planning on moving to Canada in about a year and a half, mostly because living here makes both of us tense and angry. I have to freak out about it every once in a while for catharsis. It usually happens as I'm driving alone through the rich Eastside on my way to work, and it's gotten more frequent since I've started working directly with people most negatively impacted by our lack of social supports. I really do think this place is driving me crazy.

It's not even that I particularly romanticize more socialistic parliamentary systems like those that exist in New Zealand, Canada, etc. They've got their problems, and you do sacrifice a significant amount of autonomy in those systems (there's sure not going to be a tick box on your ballot, and the citizenry doesn't vote on nearly as many policy decisions as we do here). It's just that they're palpably better than what we've got. Toss in our disturbing military/industrial complex, our media-brainwashed culture, our conception of ourselves as the Greatest Nation on Earth, and a culture and gov't so complicated and convoluted that there's no hope for longterm change, and I just can't take it.

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