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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Heartbreak, or why people like socialism

I am heartbroken. Seriously. I don't remember being this upset. Well, okay, I do remember being this upset but it was just about my own stupid shit -- the junk that happened to me and the impact it still has on my daily life. That's that. This is something else again. This is this, the big this: moral failure. This is a meteor crashing into earth. Sorry, Craig Ferguson, this is not a great day for America. Not this day. After spending three hours today watching the reality TV drama -- the real TV news story of the 6-year-old boy who was floating over local farm country in a UFO-looking hot air balloon, my heart often in my throat, truly fearing for his safety, sparing a thought or ten for the terror he might be experiencing, anticipating heartbreak in the likely event it would end in catastrophe, the real news was still coming. The kid was safe. But we're not. I first went to Poland in 1980 because I was intrigued by the Christian-Marxist Dialogue then active. Describing that more carefully is another story for another day but the jist of it had to do with the ethical teachings of Jesus and the ways in which Karl Marx had lifted up the ethical vision of the Judeo-Christian tradition and set it to (bad) music. Principles of common wealth, common ownership, common labor, common participation and reward were attractive to many who knew the teachings of Jesus and his radical call to discipleship, Jesus' call to living for others. You may be surprised -- I hope not -- to learn that I met in Poland many fine, fine people who were ardent believers in these same values, who were fine with the label "Marxist" (but not communist), and with whom I felt I shared a bedrock of common views about the world, about how to live in the world. Of course, Marxism had one big flaw (well, it had more but this did it for me): too much optimism about human nature. We're just not good enough, generous enough, kind enough to live the way socialism envisions living, and sharing life in community. Say what you want about the problems of implementing socialism. But I'll then ask you to show me how capitalism, as we practice it in this country, is working for us all so much more effectively. We're not good enough, generous enough, kind enough to live responsibly with the benefits of capitalism. We need a big-time babysitter. We are in the midst of a massive fuss about changes to our health care system. People are outraged at the costs. How can we afford it? Easy. The 129 billion dollars being paid out in bonuses to the Wall Street geniuses who brought us meltdown and disaster last year would be a strong start. In fact, it would pay for about a year of the proposed change, with a public option. It would go a long way toward paying for cost of living increases for senior citizens who have been told they aren't getting one this year. But no, the goons who screwed us last year are being rewarded. Again. Who are we? Who are we? I am heartbroken. To think we are this people. We are the people who will choose to do this and not that. We are so out-of-control greedy and so morally empty, we let this go on. This is a most disturbing indictment of this nation. If I believed in retributive justice meted out by an angry God (and maybe I do), I'd have to say we're toast. To let this happen. 129 billion dollars. In bonuses. Well, bonuses or salary, for that small pool of people, it is immoral. 129 billion dollars. Do you know how much we could do together, to care for the least among us, to provide education and health care and adequate housing, and food, for heaven's sake, to those who are unable to provide for themselves, or who have lost their jobs, lost their means of personal production? With 129 billion dollars. I wish Barack Obama was a socialist. This is unbearable. It is hard to know what to do but if you have ideas that are more effective than simply calling our congresspeople and the White House, again, I'd love to hear it. How about a mass outpouring of outrage on October 20 instead of a mere calling campaign? I'll go to the streets. Wanna go too?


John said...

You are right. If this is who we are, we are doomed and probably should be. When I was a child I was surrounded by people who spoke other languages, and by a father and mother who told me of the shining country across the water that was my country. Europe was only a few years past the war at that time, wreckage was nearby and young boys grew up knowing they should not touch strange objects in the fields they played in. This young boy felt for those around him, carving a new culture from the wreckage, but he knew his own country was the Right way, the shining example they should strive for. Now, the older boy wonders if that shining country existed, and struggles against the feeling of betrayal.

Kathy Peterson said...

Yes. I'll go to the streets with you. What we are seeing here is so sad and like you said all about "greed" and "selfishness" disguised with a whole ideology about "right" and "wrong?" It just doesn't fit for me. How can you not care for the "poor?" Why do Christians choose what they are going to go by in the Bible and cut out some parts out or do not choose to follow some passages and say it's for someone else like you can share God's love if you have the spiritual gift or throwing money at an organization is the same as doing it? Some things are optional like caring for the poor and fighting for justice for all? Isn't hating something we should not do or lying? Sometimes I think, Jan that the bright light in what we experienced (and mine was nothing like yours) is our heart for others and our passion for justice.

Gayle said...

And what do those bonus recipients do with the cash? Fund research to cure a disease? Fund programs for the disabled? Open host homes? Donate one of their mansions as a homeless shelter?

Don't be silly. They buy things they don't need, and houses they don't live in. The really sad thing is this: all that money and so little to show for it.