American Nightmare…tales from Carlin

Lately it may seem that I have been so absorbed in my own personal world that I have been oblivious to the happenings in the world…after all I haven’t done much blogging about world happenings. Today’s post is one that I have been thinking about but until today I just didn’t have the time to put it to paper (or monitor). Yet as I deal with the increasing stressors in my own life and think about how many of them are tied to scarcity, I realized what I am facing is just one sliver of the crazy pie we are being fed against our will.

If you have never seen George Carlin’s American Dream clip, take 3 minutes and check it out. In the bible in the book of Ezekiel 33, reference is made to a watchman who “when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people” well readers in many ways I think foul mouth comic Carlin was probably one of our many watchmen. In his way Carlin told us about the “owners” of this country but I will be damned if many of us just thought this was some hilarious shit being spouted by an old guy.

Well folks, now that we are being told that the country is broke and sacrifices have to be made, it’s awfully funny that everyman/every-woman is being asked to make those sacrifices. In Wisconsin folks are fighting for the right to bargain, in Detroit we are being told half the schools will be closed and classrooms will swell to perhaps as much as 60 kids per class. White guys are feeling like minorities and the madness grows.

Yet as a collective aside from those brave souls in Wisconsin, most of us are sitting back passively struggling to maintain the illusion that all is well when for most of us we know we are living a lie. I think about the fact that in the years since I have started blogging how many real life friends I have had tell me casually how they too are struggling, yet on the surface all looks fine. (So many struggling with basic survival, even down to having to visit local food pantries yet on the surface you would never suspect they had become those people) But because to talk honestly and openly about money in this culture is frowned upon most of us never do it…actually I have found being a big mouth about money and lack thereof has served me well. After all I never would have found out several years ago I was the least paid person on a team of folks despite having the most experience.

Nope, rather than coming together and having unity as a people we would rather maintain illusions and dreams that are nothing more than nightmares and worse case turn on one another. A few days ago when I read the piece about white oppression and the white’s only scholarship; as a Black woman, my first response was a knee jerk reaction rooted in race. Folks this is about more than race, the fact is in America race and color on some levels is so last millennium…the only fucking color that matters is green as in money. If you are part of the ruling class that holds most of the wealth, no one gives a rat’s ass about your race or ethnicity.

However we are too immature to realize that. Instead we can go ahead and see racial tensions flare up as we are all focused on what we see as racism and how whites are not aware of their privilege. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of white folks don’t realize how good the have it compared to people of color. But this is frankly a diversion from the larger issues which are that wages in this country are stagnant, yet the cost of survival has risen and not kept pace. During the real estate boom, sure many folks made boneheaded decisions and used their homes as ATM’s to fund ridiculous shit. But the fact remains that at a time when healthcare cost increased and wages did not keep pace, plenty of people used their homes as ATM’s to supplement what they weren’t earning. Plenty of folks used and are still using credit cards to make ends meet because their wages don’t pay enough plain and simple. Yet we think all is well.

Instead of getting mad and questioning why it is that families can have two college educated wage earners yet still need help for insurance costs because jobs either don’t offer it because we have been sold a bogus dream about being contractors and selling ourselves…very nice scam by the way since its harder to access health insurance and save for retirement when you are a contractor. Or the price is no longer affordable because compared to our grandparents we earn less when adjusted to real dollars. I had a job a few years ago where I had a co-worker struggling to stay insured with our company plan that was costing him $700 a month!

This morning I found myself thinking about how my grandparents who were first generation middle class blacks who worked union factory jobs with high school educations had enough money every year for a yearly vacation to Jamaica or some other fancy locale (fancy for the 60’s and 70’s). These same grandparents had a house with a reasonable mortgage, saved for retirement and had a comfortable middle class life.  Yet now their grandkids (that would be my brother and I who both hold masters degrees) scrape to get by…its already been proven that most likely Gen X probably won’t have it as good as our Baby Boomer parents. Obviously there are exceptions since I know my parents didn’t have it so good but as Black hippies that was more a personal choice rather than a reflection of society.

Nope, the owners of this country are delighted that the masses are fighting, average white guys are mad because they think the Black folks got it good. We got folks who think the school teachers have it good…how dare teachers who already on average are not paid proportional to what they actually do (don’t give me that shit either that they have summers off) are mad because we want to cut into their retirement and health benefits. Hell, even doctors have to adjust to their corporate overlords as this piece in the NY Times talks about.

It’s no coincident that it seems like we have more kids and adults on psychotropic meds (sorta interesting how drugs can advertise too on TV, so you know what drug to ask your doc for), turns out a psychiatrist who wants to get paid is little more than a well educated line worker these days slotting folks into 15 minute segments trying to get the right combination of drugs in that brief period of time…drugs that affect folks minds. This school year I have had several kids at my center who have been put on heavy duty meds and the side affects are heartbreaking. Sadly these are kids whose parents have little in terms of financial resources so if Doc Feel Good says little Johnnie needs XYZ drugs with no actual talk therapy even if the parents wanted to protest lack of access to healthcare with choices and money to pay out of pocket leaves them at the mercy of a guy who only has 15 minutes with their kid. Time is money and if doing your job in a compassionate and honest manner dings your finances, well you have to make a choice.

However all is not lost, the fact that the protesters in Wisconsin are still out there and the Democratic legislators are still in hiding does speak to the quiet fact that many of us are fed the fuck up. The fact that more and more of us are realizing we are not alone in this struggle bodes well for the potential of some real change happening. Not that hope and change Obama used to get us fired up but the type of hope and change that will make the overseers sit up and take notice; after all they need us to work so they can keep getting rich. So it would be in their best interest to break us off a bigger slice of the pie.

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