Foolin’ the People … About Money, About “Us” (The 1%), About Taxes, About Job Creation, About Democrats, About Republicans, About Generations, About Your Life, About You: Choose the Red Pill
Culture War, Class War, Chapter Fifteen: Money Madness
Obvious “Truths”—Fiscally Responsible Republicans and Tax and Spend Democrats
- Tax the wealthy, you’re taxing me.
- Democrats tax and spend, they bust the budget, balloon the National Debt.
- Republicans are fiscally responsible, fiscally conservative; they balance budgets and are careful about the National Debt.
- Rich people create the jobs.
- The wealthy are society’s creative sector.
- That “class warfare” stuff “just doesn’t work.”
Obvious “Truth” – Tax the Wealthy, You’re Taxing Me
But when you hear the same things again and again, even black-and-white facts can be put up for dispute. For example, during the 2008 presidential race and prior to Obama’s first budget the Democrats’ tax proposal was explained as a tax cut for the middle class and no increase on any Americans making less than two hundred thousand a year. This was a black-and-white fact, part of the public record, not in dispute. But how did the Republicans explain it?
That’s a Small Business?
I certainly heard it, over and over again; I bet you did too. Republicans were saying the tax proposal was going to affect small businesses. So we have small businesses that are making over two hundred thousand a year in pure profit? And that’s a small business? That’s a smallbusiness? I think if you’re making, after all your deductions and everything and you’re still making two hundred grand, I think that you’re not a small business, I think you can afford extra taxes, but that’s what we are told.
We’re All Rich. Somehow I Missed That Memo.
So apparently we got a group of people who think that people are really rich. The assumption is that most Americans are rolling in dough so that any tax increase on the wealthy is an attack on all Americans.
So, you can’t tax that sliver of the very, very wealthy a little bit more so that the majority of Americans might benefit. Benefiting the majority of Americans used to be how you got to “home base.” But now, it’s like, “No, you can’t tax Americans; we are Taxed Enough Already!”
Obvious “Truth”: The Democrats’ Want to Take Your Money.
The way this “obvious truth” is phrased now…no way to get around it, it’s a flat out lie…goes, “You can’t tax the very rich, cause that’s…” and they’ll just say it right out, “that’s gonna affect all Americans, that’s taxing everybody.”
Well how did it get to that conclusion when actually it’s going to lower taxes. And they were saying it over and over again, “No, we don’t even need to know what the plan is; we just know he’s a Democrat and that he’s going to raise taxes,” they would say of Obama…or for that matter of any Democrat at any time in recent history.
Now, how did that become true? Well because…he’s a Democrat and well haven’t you ever heard the term tax and spend Democrats? And there we go again.
Obvious “Truth” – Fiscally Responsible Republicans
Pointing Some Fingers Already
Alright, let’s go back. Pre-Roosevelt turn of the century initiatives so common and familiar now, such as the Food and Drug Administration, are the kinds of things Democrats brought in that added to government. Yet, Republicans spout misinformation; they get people angry about “evils” of such “big government.”
The Democrats are the ones who brought in the FDA, worker’s rights, workman’s compensation. They’re the ones who put in Medicare. They’re the ones who put in Social Security.
And we remember the Republicans are the ones who created the Great Depression, created poverty for everybody at that time. They’re the ones who did it again with Bush, who tripled and nearly quadrupled the National Debt under the twelve years of Reagan-Bush, then more than doubled it under George W. That’s a lot of goddamn money.
That’s a Lot of Money.
And then the Republicans were giving away seven hundred billion dollars to rich people who afterward were giddy in their ingratitude. This giveaway, keep in mind, came at the end of Bush’s terms. And you would hear CEOs bragging how they’re not going to spend any of that on people; they’re not going to use any of that money to loaning any of it out, which was supposed to be the purpose.
And even afterward, all Congressmen were agreeing that’s a huge amount of money, which at the time was the biggest amount of money being spent at one time, in such a short period of time on anything. And how could we forget that they just took the money and did whatever they wanted with it? They paid off debts to other rich friends; they went overseas and invested in other countries.
Chase Didn’t Use the Money for What It Was Intended.
Goldman Sachs used sixteen billion of what it received to pay off an outstanding debt to a German bank. The head of Chase bank is known to have said he wasn’t going to use the money to increase credit. In fact, he said he was going to keep that money and he was basically going to feather his nest with it and keep Chase solvent so that when other banks went under he could buy them up with it. That’s the money of the taxpayers he’s playing “Monopoly” with, mind you.
Obvious “Truths” – Tax and Spend Democrats
But stacked up against the facts we have this idea of tax and spend Democrats. It’s been repeated, going back many decades. It basically goes back to Roosevelt who ended the Depression and benefited virtually all Americans. And now that’s somehow a bad thing, brought up to get you mad about the tax and spend Democrat. And they’ve got all Americans convinced that if you vote for a Democrat, they’re going to take your money, they’re going to tax it, and they’re going to spend it on somebody else. Well, that has nothing to do with the truth.
Social Security, Medicare, and Surpluses, Oh My!
It has nothing to do with the truth. Certainly Roosevelt benefited all Americans with Social Security and so on; certainly Medicare, brought in under Lyndon Johnson benefited the vast majority of Americans. All these things the Democrats did. And Clinton raised taxes on the very rich a few percentage points and balanced the budget. Clinton created jobs and prosperity, balanced the budget, reduced the National Debt, and created a surplus that could have gone into creating a better America for all Americans. But, no, that was considered bad, because they said it hurt all Americans when the extremely wealthy had to give a little more in taxes.
The Fun Times Anticipating the Surplus
Never mind the facts, never mind that fact that we had a surplus that we were talking gleefully about how we were going to spend it. If you can remember, we were discussing investing in better roads and infrastructure that would have benefited even the businesses.
But no, it wasn’t about the truth anymore, it was about how you made it to home base, how you got money for yourself. And it didn’t matter anymore if you just skipped all the bases, and you started at home and went to home…if you just took the money. I mean, after a while the Republicans could just do that; tax breaks for the wealthy just because they were wealthy. Because, after a while, after all those years of repeating it: They could get away with, If you tax the wealthy you’re taxing all Americans. Wow.
Obvious “Truth”—The Wealthy Are the Job Creators
- Rich people create the jobs.
- The wealthy are society’s creative sector.
- Poor folks don’t create jobs, don’t invest their money.
- That “class warfare” stuff “just doesn’t work.”
Obvious “Truth” – Rich People Create the Jobs
Obvious “Truth”—The Wealthy Are Society’s Creative Sector.
Yes, I have actually heard it said this way; a good chance you have too. Here’s how it works: Raising taxes on the wealthiest is gonna hurt all Americans because by taxing that sliver of the upper two percent of Americans, you are inhibiting the creative sector’s ability to create jobs. Rich folks are society’s wealth creators. The wealthy are the creative people in our country.
They’re Creative All Right.
They’re the creative people, huh? Yea, they’re creative in stealing from us. They’re creative in fattening their wallets at our expense. They’re creative in getting people elected who are liars and things like that.
That’s not the kind of creativity I’d like to have. As far as creating jobs. Who creates jobs?
Excess Wealth Given to the Rich Created High Art Prices, Not High Employment.
Here’s the facts. You know all that money that was given to the rich people? All those tax incentives given to the rich people by Reagan? Well, It didn’t create jobs so much as it created a lot of excess wealth that went into, well, people were buying yachts, and they were investing in art objects that were being bid through the roof.
The wealthy were scrambling; they had so much money they were fighting over art objects. And the art objects — paintings and so on, famous paintings – were making headlines in being sold for so much. During the Eighties under Reagan it was common to hear of 39 million dollars for such and such…58 million, 82 million. Of the 25 most expensive paintings ever sold, only two did not come at a time when tax cuts of either Reagan or one of the Bushes were in effect. And because what? Because the rich had so much extra freakin money. Now you tell me how many jobs money tied up in art objects created?
Real Truth—The Rich Will Squander or Sit on Extra Money.
I mean it isn’t rocket science. It’s very simple … simple psychology. This has to do with facts: You give money to rich people who don’t need it, they’re the ones who are going to squander it; they’re the ones who are going to spend it frivolously, or not going to spend it just let it sit. They’re not going to benefit society with it; they’re not going to multiply it; they’re not going to invest.
In economics this is called diminishing marginal returns. Simply put, it means that food eaten by a hungry person will reap greater reward than the food consumed later when the person is satiated. The same amount of money funneled into projects, or people, will have a greater percentage return when sorely needed than when not; a dollar will go far toward feeding a hungry African child and will be as nothing for a rich American. You simply cannot throw money at folks or ventures and expect to get as much, let alone more, return or reward later when the person is less “hungry” or the project less “starved” for funds..
Obvious “Truth”: Non-Wealthy Folks Don’t Create Jobs, Don’t Invest Their Money
Real Truth: People With Less Money Will Sweat Over and Multiply Money, What They Can.
Whereas, you give a fraction of that money to a poor person, a tiny amount of that to a poor or moderate income person and what will they do? You have any idea how somebody who is poor will make a little bit of money go a long long way?
I saw my father do it. He is the same person making the meager fifty dollars a week at one point. And he wasn’t making much more, but he eventually got a truck driving contract with the U.S. postal service. He was able to own several trucks and to hire several workers.
So, why did he do that? Because he didn’t have a lot of money. And by taking those chances and becoming a businessperson, taking that little bit of money he had, he created jobs for a few other people. Because he was motivated, he was desperate. And for him it was all about a chance to raise himself out of being poor. He spent his life scanning for such opportunities till he finally came across one.
Billionaires Are Not Highly Motivated to Become Millionaires.
So you have people who would take any money coming their way to better their situation in life, the real American way. They would really love to be millionaires; they would risk their very lives for that. They would work their asses off. But those folks aren’t the people who are already billionaires.
But Nobody Will Point This Out!
So you’ve got these inanities thrown out there. They’re being said over and over again…” Rich people create the jobs; they’re society’s creative sector.” These obvious untruths are not being countered by journalists and pundits. There is really no one pointing out that anything is a lie, there’s nobody saying out loud that these self-serving pronouncements are untrue, or that what is being said is vastly different from the facts.
Makin’ Foolish People – Foolin’ the People About “Us” (The Rich)
- Things you hear a lot are true.
- Simple “truths” are real truths.
- Democrats think they’re better than everybody; they’re snobs, elitists….
- Unlike Republicans who are regular people just like me, folks I could sit and have a beer with…who’d understand me.
Confused People Take Comfort in Stupidity
When ALL You Hear Are Lies, You Begin to Think It Has to Be the Truth.
So, what happens? What is the result of these things being heard long enough, with nobody countering them or anything. It’s natural, if you hear something said enough, you don’t question it.
I myself am that way. I was told that we should go into Iraq because there was weapons of mass destruction. I didn’t hear anybody saying anything differently. So I believed it. Well, that turned out to be a lie.
It’s just natural that if you don’t hear anything to counter something, you’re going to believe that the only thing being said is the truth. And that certainly has increased over time…through the years.
Democrats Feel Like They’re Talking to a Wall; They’re Talking to the Weary.
It is not that these lies weren’t countered; they were…by progressives and Democrats…and the few, the brave of commentators. In later years, MSNBC emerged and could be counted on for straight talk. Comedy Central became the “real news” for the young educated for being willing to throw light, albeit hiding behind the built-in denial mechanism of a comic façade, on the inanities of the Wingnuts and Well-Funded.
But that has not been the reality touching the lives of ordinary Americans. What I observed is that the great majority of pundits weren’t any help in clarifying things for people. Journalists would say, “Ok, Mr. Democrat, what do you have to say about that?” And The Democrat would respond with a reasoned argument, laying out all these things that made perfect sense if you’re familiar with the issue.
And pundits wouldn’t delve into their argument, tease out its elements so as to enlighten.
And keep in mind that now more than ever people need that. We have people listening to this who are working two jobs, tired, overworked, worried about their health care, stressed. They’re not going to be able to follow an argument very well. In fact they’re going to forget what all those words meant and how they all fit together.
So after a while a lot of these folks are going to say…I’m sure you’ve heard them, they’re Republicans and the ones who vote for Republicans…they would say, “Aw geez , that’s just a bunch of words, it don’t mean anything.”
But what the hell does that mean?
Confused People Retreat Into the Stupid.
Well, it means that all these words can’t be remembered, they can’t take root in their mind after the lies they’re always hearing from the other side. They are surrounded by the organized disciplined ongoing assault against them by the Republicans. They are filled up with talking points benefiting the wealthy comprised of simplistic simple-minded irrational mantra…irrational, repetitive, simple slogans.
So, the result is that Democrats don’t end up having a lot of power; they don’t get elected. I saw it happen in presidential election after presidential election. I saw Reagan saying simplistic things, getting all the people pissed off about poor people and about the Soviets.
From the other side, I heard his appealing to the worst in people countered by reason, by sensible explanations and realistic proposals of a Dukakis, a Carter, and a Mondale. And then at the end it was…. it didn’t mean a damn thing. Because people just felt more comfortable around somebody who kept things simple, who said simple words, and seemed angry like they were.
Not that Reagan said anything indicating any of his policies were going to benefit average folks. No, actually he screwed them, but they still liked him! Because Reagan, like other Republicans, are able to confuse people into thinking that any screwing up, of any time, must have been done by Democrats. They will tell you your poverty now is caused by Democratic policies of the past which actually got us out of depressions, recessions, and created surpluses. They will tell you your lousy health care now is caused by money going to the Medicare that you like. They will tell you that the financial squeeze you feel is because of the “penny” going to a poor person not the bundles of loot they are taking.
And Burdened People Become Confused People—That’s Their Plan
So, the electorate is swimming in these simple irrational things that have been made to sound reasonable. And they are unable to see through them because they have been kept in this situation of increasing pressure to produce, produce, produce; of less leisure time and no time to think; of worries, medical care, all kinds of things you have to put out money for. They can hardly see through the swindle since they are distracted by the threat to their lives from insurance companies–those folks who may or may not pay you if you need it though you have faithfully paid them.
We’ll Insure You, Up to the Time You Need It
It’s gotten to the point where you have insurance but you dare not ever make a claim. You live with the risk of unexpected loss to your home at any time that you can not cover, because if you make a claim you may not get it next time. You risk losing home insurance and threatening your home. What the hell kind of insurance is that? You are insured but they can deny you? They can deny your claim, or as it happens all the time, you have one or two claims, and you no longer have an insurance company.
So if your payments are not making them a profit, if you are one of those few who are costing them more to be a member or to be covered by that insurance company, if you’re costing them more, they’re not going to take it out of the profits of all those who are costing them less, so, you’re eliminated. So why do we even have insurance companies? Most people have insurance just in the hope that they’ll be covered.
Rational Thought Replaced With Slogans … How Can Anyone Know the Truth?
How Can Folks Unite Against Injustices Hidden From Them
Who has the time to think clearly or reason confronted by all this other uncertainty, this other insanity? So we have all these pressures and then there’s these slogans put out and people are not able to follow rational arguments.
How this expresses itself came out in a discussion yesterday on Facebook. One rational type was trying to reason with a supporter of Mitt Romney, who was convinced everyone knew all the “true facts,” EVERYONE knew about all the “failed” and horrible things Obama had done…as she’d learned from Glenn Beck among others. My earnest and reasonable friend finally threw in the towel saying, “It’s like talking to a random thought generator. What do you think about foreign policy? Cheese.”
That is the result of factoids, “obvious truths,” replacing reason in burdened and confused minds. So how could these people possibly, without being able to see clearly, how could folks like this ever be united against the REAL injustices against them…which they don’t even realize are happening…their minds filled with the fake stuff?
How Can Folks Protect Themselves From “Wizards” Hiding “Behind the Curtain”?
People do not even know who the perpetrators are, for the pundits won’t tell them. Folks cannot figure it out for themselves; and the pundits absolutely refuse to point out who’s responsible for the things that add misery to their lives.
Media types say they cannot do that because they say it has to do with, something about equal time. But that was supposed to be for elections. And, as I pointed out earlier, equal time turned into something where, no matter what lie is put out there or would be put out, no matter what truth is put out there, the media will find somebody, they could find anybody, who would be willing to say a lie and sound reasonable for the purpose of confusing things.
With all this, how can anybody know what the truth is?
Increasing Humiliation of Working People, the Rich Get Richer at Our Expense
- A rising (economic) tide lifts all boats .
Real Truth – The Rich Get Richer at Our Expense.
Life Has Gotten Harder – Real Truth
So we have this increasing deterioration of our prosperity, of our standard of living, of our joy of life. Life becomes more and more of a struggle, and who benefits? Well we see who benefits. We now have a new super rich class which is above even the very rich. It’s called the filthy rich, as I’ve pointed out.
Real Truth – Our Suffering Has Paid for Even Greater Obscenities by the Wealthy.
And to create this super-rich class where did that money come from? Well, it’s come at the cost of average people like us. And I can tell you this because I lived through it all. I’m old enough to have seen the changes. I was born in 1950. I’ve been there to know, things are much harder than they used to be.
And our rights and our freedoms have changed. Because of their successes in the Culture War/Class War, because of Reagan and Bush, the Patriot Act, the neo-con takeover, and everything, our rights to speak out and to live without harassment have been diluted. Out of all the civilized countries in the world we have the greatest percentage of our people in jails. So what does that say?
Humiliation…Increasing Humiliation of Working People
We have these huge corporations taking over and it’s humiliating to people. I mean in times past we had the small retailer, perhaps this person had a small coin shop, bakery, drugstore and pharmacy, shoe shop, maybe a corner grocery store. Now, there aren’t any small stores like that. And where does that person end up making a living?
Well, he worked in retail so maybe he even ends up working for the same department store hat pushed him out of business. So what does that do to your self-esteem?
There’s example after example of people like that in recent years; it’s something that went into high gear under Bush. There are ever more people who are losing their jobs, well paying jobs, because they’re being sent overseas; and they are sometimes actually forced to train the people who are taking their jobs.
I can say I feel fortunate to have lived many years in an America quite different from what most people in America being younger than me have been growing up with.
The Yuppies Were Hardly Boomers … But This Idea Supports a Right-Wing Agenda by Pitting Progressives Against Each Other … Try the Red Pill Instead
- Yuppies are former hippies.
- “Flower children” abandoned their idealism and became greedy careerists focused on money.
- Former young radicals saw the error of their ways and became more conservative politically as they got older.
- The “Me” Generation is the Sixties Generation
- Sixties youth turned from free love and a sexual revolution to conservative sexual values and evangelical religion.
- “My Generation” gave up their idealism as everyone does with greater age and maturity.
- The Woodstock generation turned from pot and visionary thinking to booze, cocaine, and disco dancing a decade later
- The “free love” generation settled down and focused on family and jobs, centered around monogamy.
- “My Generation” is currently filling up the suburbs and feverishly maximizing their portfolios, at any and all cost.
Real Truth – All the Above Are Lies … Propaganda to Further the Motives of the 1%, the Filthy Rich
I can say I feel fortunate to have lived many years in an America quite different from what most people in America being younger than me have been growing up with.
I watched in the early Eighties the lies about a “Me Generation” coming out. Republicans brought that out to beat people down with. The idea was planted that people who wanted anything for themselves were selfish, for after all only the wealthy should ever benefit.
And it’s funny too, how they were able to use their own spawn to make this case. You could look around and see a new cadre of young folks—Gen X Yuppies—who had bought into the WWII values, who had been deluded by the untruths the 1% of that WWII generation had been using against the masses. The rich elite had succeeded in convincing those younger of mind that the wealthy folks interests where actually their own.
The 1% of the WWII Generation’s response to Sixties activism on campus, as I showed earlier, led to their taking over the universities in the early Seventies and turning them away from the humanities and social sciences and into career mills; I was there and observed it first hand. The success of this is what created the Yuppies in the Eighties–young upwardly mobile professionals–who were the first batch of Generation X—who are those born 1961 to 1981, who therefore left high school beginning in 1978. [Footnote 1]
So these Gen X Yuppies were coming onto the scene in the early Eighties, when the first of them were leaving the universities. The turnaround in education, away from free thinking and towards conservative careerist values, was in full swing by the time they reached college in 1978 on. And its effect on them was patent when they began coming of age. They were what the WWII Generation wanted: money-oriented and compliant…greed had been made “good” again. Standouts of this generation today are Sarah Palin (born 1964), Eric Cantor (born 1963), Rand Paul (born 1963), and Paul Ryan (born 1970).
So then the WWII Generation, fully in charge of society, could point to these yuppie spawn as examples of the obscenity of greed, thus deflecting attention away from their own, WWII Generation, me-spiritedness. To further their ends, they also claimed the origins of this unseemly greed lie in the failed, unrealistic values of the Sixties generation and their idealism.
This was one of their most amazing feats. They were able to take their values of greed and conformity, sow them in another generation, point to those values and criticize them, blame them on the hippies, all the while hiding their own espousal of those values. They perpetrated, denied, criticized, scapegoated, distracted, and obfuscated all together! They thoroughly convinced Americans that the Me Generation and Yuppies were those who formerly were flower children.
Whereas this actual Me Generation, these Yuppies, were predominantly a bunch of reactionary young people who said to hell with this idealistic stuff, and of helping out, and kumbaya, and all that stuff. They said, we’re for money, to hell with any one else. And somehow the WWII-Generation-owned media, assisted by a Fifties Generation now in their prime, convinced folks that these careerists out only for themselves were the one-time visionaries. Of course they only pulled this off because they owned or controlled all the major organs of expression in America—the newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, education, book publishing. I’ve delineated how they did this in one of the earliest all-out assaults, after their initial setbacks in the Sixties, of the Culture War/Class War they have been waging on the 99% since that time.
The media flooded American minds with the idea that the Me Generation was My Generation (I’m “talkin’ bout my generation” here) in the Eighties. They had prepared the ground for that lie, as there had been constant slander of my generation in the press since the beginnings of our activism in the Sixties, exactly like they are now putting out against the Millennials and those in the Occupy movement today. Beginning in the Seventies, owning the publishing and media industries, they concocted the lie that there was a conservative backlash going on. (See Chapter Two: Matrix Aroused, the Sixties and The Big Lie About Yuppies Being Hippies.)
This supposed conservative backlash was merely a continuation of Nixon’s laughable claim that he was supported by a “Silent Majority,” which he had used since the beginnings of his term in 1969 and which was obviously false, as demonstrations grew in size and support swung away from him throughout this period; and eventually he was forced to resign. But Republicans always claim there are a majority of real folks out there—“real Americans” as Palin and her kind say today—who support them but are doing it secretly. (btw, lol!)
Anyway, by the Eighties the powers-that-be were able to place this idea of a selfish “Me Generation” of Sixties youth, which they had been saying for a while, as being the ones on the campus at the time or recently out, the Yuppies. It fit their narrative. But it was a lie, and virtually all my generation knew it and thought it laughable. We stopped laughing after a while as over the years, it became clearer they had done such a good job of preparing the ground and repeating the lie that it stuck in the minds of those other than my generation—the Fifties Generation ahead of us and Gen X behind us—and the right wing, who of course saw this as red meat to further their causes. The media controlled by the 1% said the Sixties generation had gone from idealism to just wanting money, thereby discrediting their opponents, us who were consistently representing the 99%. At the same time they gave credibility to their claim of the superior veracity of their own values of greed, materialism, ruthless pragmatism, ego above all, and even me-spiritedness. Also, it validated, even glorified their personal traits of conformity, hard-headedness, cynicism, compliance, and even mean-spiritedness .
The Lies About Jerry Rubin
They could only give one example, Jerry Rubin; and even about him they lied and slandered. First off, neither Jerry Rubin, or Abbie Hoffman for that matter, were Boomers or Sixties Generation members. They were Fifties Generation, born in 1938 and 1936 respectively. Boomers were born in the post-WWII baby boom from 1946 through 1960. So that is enough to discredit what they said about “my generation.” But taking it as an attack aimed at the counterculture, let’s examine it:
They said Jerry Rubin was engaged in trying to make money. And they never mentioned what he was trying to make money on… but God forbid anyone but them should try to make money anyway. You see, what the 1% do is drive people into lowered standards of living and poverty where they experience desperation for money at times. Then they can point to that grasping to survive as proof that their values of money above all else are legitimate and that it is not possible for humans to have any other values higher than that. They create the conditions that they can use to support and validate themselves…how convenient.
But telling the whole truth would never allow them to do that. They didn’t mention about Jerry Rubin that he was engaged in selling health supplements; he was trying to help people out with their health. He was involved in multilevel marketing. He was an early investor in Apple Corporation, helping to foster the cybernetic revolution that progressives depend on today and which has strengthened our movement incredibly with Facebook and Twitter aiding us in overthrowing dictators in the Mideast and joining us in support of the Occupy and Wisconsin union movements.
He traveled with Abbie Hoffman in doing “Yippie versus Yuppie” debates, that is true. Since it did not fit the narrative of their discrediting their opponents in the Sixties generation, they never understood or at least never mentioned that in using those terms for their “debates” they were continuing their tradition of fucking with their opponents’ minds by flaunting the terms that had been used against them. Critics don’t get and opponents conveniently overlook the heavily ironic and playful way my generation, and Yippies in particular, present themselves. “Yippie versus Yuppie” is supposed to make you think; it is a hook; and it is funny to those of us in the know. Believe me, I have the same problem with people sometimes misunderstanding my intent for the opposite of what I believe because of the amusingly ironic titles I sometimes give my writings.
But Rubin’s position in this “debate”—which was actually a discussion of different ways the Sixties values might succeed, not be overturned—was that the POOR COULD BE HELPED by promoting programs to create wealth in their communities. I quote:
Rubin’s argument in the debates was that activism was hard work and that the abuse of drugs, sex, and private property had made the counter-culture “a scary society in itself.” He maintained that “wealth creation is the real American revolution. What we need is an infusion of capital into the depressed areas of our country.”
Someone who knew him well, Stew Albert, said this of Jerry in eulogizing him.
Jerry was always a rebel, but then he was always a rebel within the rebellion. He was always sort of rebelling against the norms of the rebellion.
Jerry changed costumes, and he changed rhetoric, but he never changed his heart.
Does that sound like someone promoting the interests of the 1%? Or like someone just out for himself, as Yuppies really are? Remember that at the time, militant, even violent revolution had been in the air for a while—with the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, and the Symbionese Liberation Army and such. So “Yippie vs. Yuppie” was a leftist debate about tactics. Today it would be considered a discussion of liberal vs. progressive views…hardly conservative, Yuppie, or Republican views. And Jerry Rubin’s putting on a suit made him about as conservative as it made Bob Dylan a conservative when he picked up an electric guitar at the Newport Festival of 1965. Dylan got booed for what was only considered unusual alongside some very high, and strict, expectations about purism in music having nothing to do with political ideology or musical quality but simply technology. Rubin’s wearing a suit was the same kind of thing at the time he did it…and it had nothing to do with ideology but simply tactics—i.e., revolutionary technology.
Also, at the same time as Rubin was doing all this and supposedly a Yuppie, he was running a legal and civil rights office in an artsy/alternative part of L.A., Echo Park, where he also lived. When he died he was on his way to dinner in the company of Fred Branfman of the Making a Difference project, whose purpose was to bring money into poor communities by helping inner-city youth learn how to start their own businesses. Does that sound like a Wall Street careerist? Does that sound like he turned over his ideals and bowed to the god of money? So, lies, lies, lies. And these lies become instituted and they’re not challenged after a while, after you hear them for decade after decade after decade….
You have to be older to know that it wasn’t always the way they tell you it is. It helps to have lived in different times and places and to have seen things with your own eyes to be able to see through these inane “obvious truths” that people take as absolute truths. It helps to have had experience with the things they are talking about to know what are actual facts and what are complete fabrications.
Setting the Record Straight on Boomers
Boomer-Generation X Culture War
A friend who supports the Occupy movement, and who happens to be a Gen Xer, recently shared this with me,
As a Gen Xer, I have to say we were outnumbered as a Generation with half the numbers of the boomers and the previous traditional generations.
…the boomers cut taxes on the wealthy and wages for the middle class to create the world’s largest debt, our dependence on dirty foreign oil grew as our manufacturing base got shipped over seas.
You Boomers call Gen X a slacker generation while doing all that?
It is the boomers who are the dead beat generation now.
If this person were correct, then why have the Boomers voted consistently Democratic? [Footnote 2]
The Gen X/Yuppie—Fifties Generation alliance was responsible for getting Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II elected. Boomers voted against Republicans, especially these; it’s all in the public record. Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II are the ones who did the tax cuts. Whereas Clinton—a Boomer and a Democrat—raised taxes on the 1% and balanced a budget for the first time.
Indeed, all Democratic candidates and Presidents going back to Roosevelt at least, with the one small exception of Kennedy favored and fought for raising taxes on the 1%, not cutting them, so as to relieve the burden on the 99%. The right likes to use Kennedy as an example of a Democrat seeing the wisdom of cutting taxes to improve the economy, but Kennedy’s proposed tax cut for the 1% was when the marginal rate was 91% range, not at 35% as today, and the country was prosperous. (See The Myth of JFK as a Supply Side Tax Cutter.) Also it was not instituted until Johnson began his term … which was incidentally when the huge deficits began. So Kennedy’s tax cut had nothing at all to do with the prosperity we enjoyed during his term, indeed its institution marked the beginning of increasing deficits.
Even today, it is Democrats—supported heavily by Boomers—who are opposed to tax cuts and favor reining in the greed of the 1%. This includes Obama, who incidentally is a Gen X-Boomer cusper, born 1961. Note that he has surrounded himself with Boomers—Biden, Clinton, et al. And they are engaged in that same Democratic struggle of decades past of trying to get the 1% to pay their fair share in taxes. Meanwhile Republicans supported by that Fifties Generation (the Koch Brothers, John McCain, Dick Cheney, Mitch McConnell, et al) – Gen X/Yuppie (Palin, Cantor, Ryan, Rand Paul) alliance oppose Boomer-Democratic tax and other progressive initiatives at every turn.
So to accuse Boomers, who voted predominantly for these Democrats and their policies, of cutting taxes is grossly misinformed or a lie. And for a Gen Xer to do this blaming is either ignorant, a denial, or delusional…but is in any case a product of that misinformation I’ve been talking about.
For to address that Gen Xer’s charges of Boomer’s causing the dependence on dirty foreign oil, the Sixties Generation started the environmental movement. I know a little about this; as I explained previously, I was one of those who helped bring nuclear plant construction to a halt in America, which we did in Springfield, Oregon, in the early Eighties. We, Boomers…I was born in 1950…supported Democrats who fought for environmental legislation, alternative energies, and reduced dependence on dirty energies against Republicans, supported by the Fifties-Gen X alliance, who watered down those policies and legislated a rape of our natural resources and our environment to benefit big business, Big Oil, Big Nuke, Big Coal, and the 1%.
As for the accusation that Boomers sent our manufacturing base overseas and caused a lowering of middle class wages, how can that possibly be true alongside the more than obvious knowledge that Democrats are the ones who consistently push for and favor raising the minimum wage and are the union supporters? Can this OWS person not be aware of the parallel Wisconsin union movement which has Democrats and union folks up against Republicans and Gen X/Fifties Gen Koch-supporters? Or is he somehow unaware of the fact that Boomers have consistently voted in greater numbers for Democrats than Republicans over all these decades? [Footnote 2]
Well, this shows the amount of success the WWII Generation and Fifties Generation enjoyed in shifting the blame for their policies and their theft of the national wealth. And, by the way, it was the WWII Generation that had the greatest retirement wealth per person and who instituted Social Security and other benefit programs for themselves … making themselves the wealthiest as well as the “Greatest Generation.” Probably with the tax cuts, the current Fifties Generation who in their retirement years are raping the wealth of the country to fatten themselves, are bettering them. Whereas the Sixties Generation, scapegoated again, is facing cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and other benefits at the exact time as they need it and are facing or entering retirement—being beaten down, harassed, and scapegoated by the Gen X-Fifties Generation alliance again.
You think this is ancient information and is irrelevant to what is happening today? Remember that the comment I quoted above from my Gen X friend and fellow Occupier was from only last week. He has his sights set on my generation as the perpetrators of the problems; these ideas have caused a split between Gen X and Boomer Progressives. I can tell you that his comment is not atypical from others I hear from Gen X in their attitudes toward Boomers.
Similarly, to some extent the Millennials believe Boomers are at fault also—this is what they have been taught. They are simply misinformed and so are not so committed to the lies as the Gen Xers. The Millennials are open to the fact they have been deceived. After all their Boomer parents are models of the fact that these “facts” are actually lies. The Millennials have been made to believe, simply, that their own parents and those of their friends are somehow just different from those “bad Boomers” out there who are really the selfish and tax-cutter ones.
Lies and toxic misinformation are not healthy, at all, for a movement that is predominantly an alliance of Millennials and Boomers, with some Gen Xers (notably, few Fifties Generation folks). After all, how do you think a progressive Boomer feels, after fighting his entire life with his generational cohort for the changes that we are still fighting for with the OWS and Wisconsin union movements, and after hearing his entire life the made up lies, the slander, the scapegoating about himself, his generation, and his beliefs? How do you think she feels seeing those same lies being pulled out again and thrown against OWS supporters, for example, continuing therefore to throw salt into old wounds? And finally how do you think she feels to hear from her friends and allies in the movement that she has been the problem all this time, not the solution? It is disheartening, to say the least.
In this antagonism against Boomers, the other side—the WWII-Fifties Gen alliance, supportive of the 1% and their Tea Party sycophants—have won again. [Footnote 3]
For these WWII-Fifties Gen lies have thrown discord into progressive ranks. And they have thrown off the aim of our movements as to who the perpetrators are, giving the 1% a convenient fog of confusion behind which they can continue unfettered their actions against us.
Finally a most visible example of the right-wing/Republican Fifties Generation – Gen X alliance was shown in the last presidential election with a Fifties Gen, McCain, matched with a Gen X – Palin, born in 1964, coming smack in the middle of the Yuppies (1961 through 1970). This is the generational alliance and the generational values we should be targeting, not Boomers, and Progressives would do better to know that.
The “Truth Dividend” of Having Been Around
So, in understanding what might be the truth and what are obviously lies, it helps to be older, for you can know that it wasn’t always the way they tell you it is or has to be. It helps to have lived in different times and places and to have seen things with your own eyes to be able to see through these inane “obvious truths” that people take as absolute truths. It helps to have had experience with the things they are talking about to know what are actual facts and what are complete fabrications.
And with that seeing comes the knowledge that over the course of the last fifty years America descended into a deep slumber of untruth from which it could not awaken…regardless of all the righteous efforts of many true-seeing progressive activists who did their best to sound alarms.
Here is an audio of the author’s impassioned reading of this part. Though it is of the first, unedited and unpolished version, and it does not contain all the detail of its current form, it does capture the flavor of it all. I offer it here for your listening pleasure. For the reading of this part, “The Rise and Fall of ‘Obvious Truths,’ Part Three,” click on the link to the audio site above or click the link to the audio player below.
1. A lot of confusion about Boomers, Yuppies, And Generation X has been generated by the Census Bureau and main stream media. A generation, see below, is defined as a cohort of people occurring roughly every twenty years who share some common viewpoint and experiences.
This is what a generation actually is:
Defining a generation
Strauss and Howe define a social generation as the aggregate of all people born over a span of roughly twenty years, or about the length of one phase of life: childhood, young adulthood, midlife, and old age. Particular generations are identified (from first birthyear to last) by looking for cohort groups of this length that share three criteria. First, members of a generation share what the authors call an age location in history: they encounter key historical events and social trends while occupying the same phase of life. Because members of a generation are shaped in lasting ways by the eras they encounter as children and young adults, they also tend to share certain common beliefs and behaviors. Aware of the experiences and traits that they share with their peers, members of a generation also tend to share a sense of common perceived membership in that generation. For example, in a 2007 Harvard Institute of Politics survey, Americans born 1982 to 1989 (whom Strauss and Howe define as the first-wave cohorts of the Millennial Generation) identified themselves as belonging to a “unique and distinct” generation, with an outlook different from people in their 30s or older. Surveys show that Boomers also strongly identify with their own age cohort.
Strauss and Howe base their definition of a generation on the work of diverse writers and social thinkers, from ancient writers such as Polybius and Ibn Khaldun to modern social theorists like José Ortega y Gasset, Karl Mannheim, John Stuart Mill, Émile Littré, Auguste Comte, and François Mentré.
From Strauss-Howe generational theory
Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau definition of Boomers is different. See Baby boomer.
Why would it be different? That is the crucial question. The Census Bureau’s definitions of Boomers and Generation X is as follows:
- The Baby Boom Generation is the generation that was born following World War II, from 1946 up to 1964, a time that was marked by an increase in birth rates. The baby boom has been described variously as a “shockwave” and as “the pig in the python.” By the sheer force of its numbers, the boomers were a demographic bulge which remodeled society as it passed through it. In general, baby boomers are associated with a rejection or redefinition of traditional values; however, many commentators have disputed the extent of that rejection, noting the widespread continuity of values with older and younger generations. In Europe and North America boomers are widely associated with privilege, as many grew up in a time of affluence. One of the features of Boomers was that they tended to think of themselves as a special generation, very different from those that had come before them. In the 1960s, as the relatively large numbers of young people became teenagers and young adults, they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the change they were bringing about.
From Generation in Wikipedia.
So why are those born 1961 through 1964 considered part of the Boomer Generation by the Census Bureau, which has informed much of the discussion on this? Why is the Census Bureau attributing only 17 years to Generation X but 19 years to Boomers, when in fact the Boomers were born in a World War II “baby boom” that had them being born in a distinctly shorter period. Whereas Generation X was born of the Fifties Generation during a more languorous, hence longer period? Why is the Census Bureaus including as Boomers those born at those end years of 1961 through 1964 when the number of births was decreasing, not “booming”?
I don’t know the answer, but I do know this decision by the Census Bureau has served pundits and right wing commentators in giving more weight to their positions by diluting the distinctly liberal voting record of actual Boomers. As I have been stating above, there was a concerted effort to scapegoat Boomers and to confuse them with Yuppie-Gen Xers. This confused definition by the Census Bureau is part of that. It has allowed pundits to slander the Sixties Generation, as I said, by attributing qualities to them that were actually a part of the WWII Generation’s Culture War Attack of creating a generation different from and more compliant than the Sixties Generation/ Boomers.
At any rate, that is why we have the discrepancy shown in this description of the Pew Report findings on “Boomer” voting patterns. Let’s look at a few relevant findings:
Of greatest interest to BTS are the Pew Research Center survey findings about Boomers.
- In recent years Boomers increasingly call themselves conservatives. They voted for Republican candidates in 2010, but are still on the fence for the 2012 Presidential Election.
- Older Boomers tilt Democratic while younger Boomers tilt Republican. When asked to name the best President during their lifetime, Boomers were evenly divided between Clinton and Reagan.
- Younger Boomers and Generation Xers have been one of the most reliable Republican voting groups.
From The Baby Boomer Voting Bloc
This supports what I’m saying about generational voting patterns. The difference lies in that this author has to differentiate between late Boomers and early Boomers. They are opposite in their voting patterns. This person wouldn’t be so confused if he placed the generational divide where it belongs, at 1961, not 1965. Boomers were born between 1946 and 1960, as shown in the chart below, which also shows Generation X beginning in 1961.
The Boom Generation defined by Howe and Strauss, as shown in the chart above, born 1946 thru 1960 are the ones who vote consistently Democratic. They are the ones who shared common events and experiences growing up and were shaped by them, notably the Vietnam War; the JFK, RFK, and MLK assasinations in 1968; the sexual revolution; the explosion of the use of LSD and pot as drugs, and the counterculture. These events were not on the cultural map that faced the ones born 1961 through 1964, for they were too young. Yet how can one define a Boomer-Sixties Generation that does not include these as formative experiences?
So this discrepancy is an example of what I’m talking about in this article. For it continues the confusion about Boomers and contributes to the scapegoating and the denigration of Boomers as being a Me Generation and Yuppies being former hippies by simply getting confusing results by including some from Gen X—some actual Yuppies. To include those born between the four years, 1961 through 1964, you end up getting the confused results this author gets. You are including the likes of Sarah Palin and Eric Cantor, fer Chrissakes! I’ve never heard anyone mistake them for my generation. It would have Barack Obama, born 1961, categorized as a Boomer, as if there is not an obvious generational difference between him and some the notable Boomers in his administration, like Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. But by seeing that Obama is a Yuppie-Gen Xer, it helps explain the differences between him and the actual Boomer president, Bill Clinton.
For more on this, see Generation Jones, which is the term given for those born 1954 through 1964. They are seen to be very different from the Boomers. They did not confront the same social realities as did Boomers. They even came of age after the Vietnam War. They missed the counterculture movement. It is ludicrous for generationalists to include these with Baby Boomers as especially the second half of these have an entirely opposite world view from Boomers. Their stalwarts include Rick Santorum (born 1958), Sarah Palin (born 1964) and Eric Cantor (born 1963)…hardly Boomers. Notice that it also includes Rand Paul (born 1963), who as expected is the son of a Fifties Generation parent with whom he is allied, Ron Paul (born 1935).
See also the write up on Generation X in Wikipedia, which addresses this confusion as to where the dividing line between Boomers and Gen X is as well.
Finally, see Baby boomer, which discusses this confusion and adds two important considerations: The person who coined the term “baby boomer” described them as those born between 1943 and 1960. So why did the Census Bureau change it? The second point discussed is that many theorists have two distinct generations during this supposed period of Census Bureau Boomers—Boomers and Generation Jones, which are said to be those born 1956 through 1964. So this latter group is not included with Boomers.
Is all this not confusing enough? Does it not play into the right wing agenda to dilute their opponents power by confusing their opponents profile, so they can lob any charge against them? Or attribute any self-congratulatory trait to them, as they wish?
Most of all, this strikes me as devious in that it allows right wingers to blame Boomers for the cadre of youth, the Yuppies, who were actually their creation—that of the 1% and those reactionary culture war forces—and were in no way influenced by, so should hardly be included in, “my generation” of Boomers, the Sixties Generation.
2. BLAM!! From the site, Gallup Politics, of May 8, 2009. Even though continuing the misinformation that Boomers were born up till 1964, going with the Census Bureau definition, Gallup Poll data still solidly support the premise that Boomers are predominantly Democrats, as well as the fact that Millennials are as well.
Republicans do better among Generation X
by Frank Newport
PRINCETON, NJ — Although Democrats currently enjoy a party identification advantage over Republicans among Americans at every age between 18 to 85, the Democrats’ greatest advantages come among those in their 20s and baby boomers in their late 40s and 50s. Republicans, on the other hand, come closest to parity with Democrats among Generation Xers in their late 30s and early 40s and among seniors in their late 60s….
Demographers and social observers have made attempts over the years to classify Americans into generational groups based on the social, political, economic, and cultural environment of the years in which they grew up and “came of age.” The most clearly delineated such group is the baby boomers, generally agreed to be those born between 1946 and 1964 — or roughly ages 45 to 63 today. Generation X follows the baby boom and is generally considered to be those born between 1965 and 1979 — or roughly between ages 30 and 44. Those younger than Generation X have been labeled Generation Y or the “Millennials,” who are 18 to 29 today. There are various ways of grouping those who preceded the baby boom generation, including the famous sobriquet “The Greatest Generation” used by Tom Brokaw in his book of the same name, but it is convenient to label those who today are 64 and older as seniors (even though some in this group would no doubt resist that label).
From Democrats Do Best Among Generation Y and Baby Boomers.
Notice here that not only are arbitrary birth figures used to stipulate Boomers and Generation Xers, but everyone older than a Boomer is classified as part of the World War Two Generation—”The Greatest Generation.” So they would have everyone born in the forty-five year period from 1901 through 1945 to be WWII Gen even though some were born during the war and had their coming of age after the war and in the decade of the Fifties—those born 1925 through 1945. Elsewhere this generation has been termed the Silent Generation or the Eisenhower-Presley-McCarthy Generation…I’m calling them the Fifties Generation for convenience sake. Still, the study does find Democratic tendencies among Boomers, however wrongly defined, and Millennials. And it finds Republican leanings among Generation Xers, however wrongly defined, and the Fifties Generation, however wrongly defined again, as shown by the graph below:
The current data suggest that political party identification in the United States today follows these generational patterns to a perhaps surprising degree.
· Generation Y (18 to 29) clearly is skewed fairly strongly in the direction of being either independent or Democratic in political orientation. This group constitutes a significant weakness for the Republican Party.
· Generation X (30 to 44) includes some of the strongest support for Republicans. For whatever reasons, the Democratic over Republican gap among Generation Xers, particularly those ages 37 to 43 at the heart of this generation, is on a relative basis much closer to parity than for any other age group with the exception of those in their late 60s.
· Baby Boomers (45 to 63) skew Democratic in their political orientation, with the Democratic advantage reaching a peak at ages 58 and 59.
· Seniors have a more mixed pattern of party identification, with Republicans gaining on a relative basis among those in their late 60s, but with Democrats doing better as Americans age into their 70s and early 80s.
Democrats have a significant advantage over Republicans today in terms of overall party identification, and the data reviewed here show that this advantage holds at every age between 18 and 85.
At the same time, there are clear ebbs and flows in the degree of this Democratic advantage across the age spectrum. Democrats have the greatest advantage vis a vis Republicans among Americans at the very youngest voting age and also among members of the fabled baby boom, particularly those in their late 50s. Republicans do relatively better among those who are in Generation X, including in particular those in their late 30s and early 40s. Republicans also show greater support among older Americans in their late 60s….
There is…the hypothesis that the differences are explained by the unique circumstances that surrounded the coming of age of the generations. Baby boomers, as is well known, grew up in the tumultuous age of civil rights, Vietnam, Woodstock, and Watergate. It is certainly possible that these events have marked this generation in a more Democratic or liberal direction for life. Many Generation Xers came of age during the Reagan-Bush years (1980 to 1992) or the “Republican Revolution” marked by the 1994 midterm elections. Today’s Generation Y has reached maturity in a time period largely marked by the administration of George W. Bush, and certainly for many the nascent Obama administration is a major formative factor in their political orientation….
From Democrats Do Best Among Generation Y and Baby Boomers.
Now contrast what above is said in the Gallup Poll about Boomers with what is said here about “late Boomers,” or who Howe and Strauss and other social scientists would call Generation X, and I would call Gen X-Yuppies:
the 1980-1988 run where young Late Boomers broke heavily for Republicans in the three Presidential landslides of that decade. When that generation grew to political maturity, it resulted in by far the most Republican-identifying generation in over half a century, the 1994 Republican landslide, and the general sense of creeping conservatism the country experienced through the 1990’s and first half of our current decade
From The Importance of Generation Y.
The article above also describes the Democratic voting patterns of the Millennials, or what they call Generation Y.
On the idea that the Millennials being the sons and daughters of the Sixties Generation/Boomers, as I continually point out, I offer the following definition of Millennials from WhatIs.com
Millennials, an abbreviation for millennial generation, is a term used by demographers to describe a segment of the population born between 1980 and 2000 (approximately). Sometimes referred to in the media as “Generation Y,” millennials are the children of the post-WWII baby boomer generation.
A few things about millennials:
- According the U.S. census bureau, around forty percent of the millennial generation is African American, Latino, Asian or of a racially-mixed background.
- There are about 76 million millennials in the United States (based on research using the years 1978-2000).
- Millennials are the last generation born in the 20th century.
- Twenty percent have at least one immigrant parent.
- A number of studies, including one by the Center for American Progress, anticipate that millennials will be the first American generation to do less well economically than their parents.
- Millennials are also sometimes called the Net generation because (at least according to some people) they don’t remember a time when there was no Internet.
- As a result of growing up with the Internet and associated devices, millennials are often said to be the most technologically savvy generation to date.
Finally a most visible example of the right-wing/Republican Fifties Generation – Gen X alliance was shown in the last presidential election with a Fifties Gen, McCain, matched with a Gen X – Palin, born in 1964, coming smack in the middle of the Yuppies (1961 through 1970). This is the generational alliance and the generational values we should be targeting, not Boomers, and Progressives would do better to know that.
3. There is some scapegoating done by Millennials out of this misinformation. The following was published a few days ago, on June 17, 2012. It is further validation of the antagonism against Boomers regarding the issues of the movement—OWS and Wisconsin union:
9/11 and the “war on terror” became part of common jargon. Recently, the “war on women” and the “war on religion” are hot political topics. Now, I’m thinking there is a “war on boomers”….
I was sitting at a reception party table politely nibbling on a too-sweet slice of wedding cake chased with lukewarm burnt coffee when a recent graduate seated at the table started whining about how unfairly life was treating him. First, he believed that four years of (sheltered) college life entitled him to a first-class ticket to affluence with a side-trip on a guaranteed career path. And, now there were no job tickets to be had and (worse) he was expected to pay back all the money he borrowed to get in on this total sham. Life was so unfair! His debt should be forgiven – because it was only fair to be compensated for this bait-and-switch.
He continued his tirade. Boomers should be retiring to make room for all the recent grads that deserve jobs now. It’s only right. On top of this, these boomers with all of their massive wealth were actually going to bankrupt Social Security – a heartless action since they don’t actually need it. The injustices just keep piling for the new graduates with their superior skills and up-to-date knowledge. Down the road he had nothing to look forward to — once he finally got that plum job that he had a right to based on his attendance at an institution of higher learning – except huge national debt and no Social Security or Medicare, an unwanted and unwarranted gift from self-centered boomers.
And, now I’m starting to pay attention to what seemed idle conversation. I glance at the Count who gives me a look that says, “Don’t go there –– please!” I concentrate on my cake that is now too dry to choke down without more lukewarm burnt coffee; and wonder if Clueless thinks those seated at the table are in our 30s (or perhaps our 80s!) and am amazed at how he can find it acceptable to disparage all boomers while sitting among them. Generously, I wonder if maybe he just has a sarcastic sense of humor. However, Clueless continues. I smolder some and then catch the Count’s glance again. He slyly places his thumb and first finger on either side of his mouth pulling a smile into place – and I reluctantly accept his wisdom. But, the Count did get an earful on the way home.
- I think about Julie, a single mother, who helped two kids through college while working 40 hours per work as an administrative assistant, selling Avon after work hours, and running a food concession stand at weekend events during the summer. Julie has little in her nest-egg, but her children do have a chance at the American dream – although it will always require some effort.
- I suspect that John, another co-worker, was on track to fund his retirement. Unfortunately, at about the same time the 2008 financial crisis cratered his retirement savings his father was diagnosed with Alzheimers. John knew he should avoid using his tax-deferred savings at the bottom of the financial market, but his father’s healthcare bills had to be paid. John’s plan to retire at 62 is a dream lost to reality.
- I bumped into Mary Beth at the greenhouse when we were buying our bedding plants. She pointed us to the “spikes” that the Count insists on adding to the geranium-filled pots on the patio. As we caught up on gossip about former neighbors, she confided that plants have always been her hobby and that this “green” job was perfect. This temporary part-time job was crucial to replacing the family income lost when Jerry was laid off from his welding job – months ago. And, she laughed when she acknowledged that, in fact, “work” was a respite from a house now over-crowded since her daughter and family are living in the basement. I’m pretty certain that Jerry and Mary Beth — both boomers, planners, and savers – no longer have the luxury of maximizing their tax-deferred retirement savings accounts (or even the ability to set aside savings) as they approach the age they used to believe would be the end of their full-time working careers.
With investment portfolios and home values shrinking, medical expenses and LTC costs rising, financial worries for some boomers are dire.
- A May 2010 Pew Research survey found that 60% of Americans age 50 to 61 believe they may need to delay retirement because of the recession. Plus, the highest percentage of any generation, 57% of boomers, said that their household finances have deteriorated in the past few years.
- In 2010 the ERBI reported that only 13% of workers age 55 or older are “very confident” that have enough money to live comfortably in retirement.
- Some have labeled the boomer generation the “sandwich generation”, a group dealing with healthcare issues of their elderly parents at the same time they are backstopping the impact of the stagnant economy on their boomerang grown children.
Aiming fingers and lobbing blame doesn’t solve anything. We are all in this together since our generations are linked in complex ways. We are all fighting the same war of financial and economic uncertainty, just not at on the same battlefield – as determined by our stage of life. A war on anyone does nothing but divide us – when the ultimate victory is prosperity for everyone.
From The War on Boomers
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Wonderful Can Happen: With Dumbness at the Top and Media as the New Opiate of the Masses, Still, “Yes, We Can” Proved We Could.
Posted by sillymickel in activism, allegory, authenticity, being yourself, Class, Culture, economics, Generations, globalrevolution, History, individualism, nonconform, occupywallstreet, philosophy, Politics, psychology, spirituality, US on November 6, 2012
To Our Amazement, Charlie Brown Connected, Lucy Apologized, a Man Who Said “Yes We Can,” Would: Anything Is Possible … Means Everything Is Possible
Culture War, Class War, Chapter 23: Something Wonderful Can Happen
There Are Good Reasons Why Our Financial and Environmental Fortunes Careen Wildly About: Dumbness Rises to the Top
Blinded by Their Greed, They Overlook the Obvious: Why Our National Misfortunes Are Greeted with Such Surprise by Authorities and Pundits
Voices Never Heard
What I’ve been trying to say here is, there are perspectives that are relevant and are never heard. And I’m talking about perspectives that are right outside the doors of power ready to talk and be heard; often having been perspectives that had been embraced not long ago, but suddenly, not having any credibility at all…so that our democracy of many voices—now with the filthy rich and their Republican lackeys and their paid-for media in collusion to mine only one avenue of discourse—begins to echo the Soviet Union of old with its one voice, Pravda.
Horrors Far Worse
Back in 2000, I also had written,
I believe our friend speaks eloquently about some of those far greater horrors, and indicates they are there right now on our doorstep. We had a surplus and a will to tackle them a decade ago. Sadly we have wasted the last ten years reversing those environmental policies whose intent it was to help. And we have reversed our financial situation, which could have helped. In addition, we have reversed the restrictions on corporations and other policies that would have helped and at least slowed down this ominous impending doom.
So we are a decade further along in environmental collapse, and it is has increased its acceleration toward us. Meanwhile we have slashed away at our financial and other resources for dealing with it and chopped back the time in which to work. The way I phrased it a decade ago.
Dumbness Rises to the Top
And sure enough, as we all know…and what these people could not even imagine, as that trader put it, well, it is happening. One wonders what these buffoons who could not foresee such things will do in terms of fixing them; having acknowledged their extreme lack of foresight (and we’ve added, their extreme inability to look anywhere farther than their tight knit group of true believers for answers.) This should be something to see.
As for Wall Street and the economy, let’s take another look at how the media has dealt with other perspectives to flesh out my claims above of these perspectives not being far off.
On CNBC, a couple of years before the economic downturn, they used to have as a commentator, Robert Reich, who was President Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury and the mastermind of the great economic turnaround of the Nineties.
But he was talked over, laughed at, and was routinely talked to as if he was a child or suffered sadly from some kind of bleeding heart brain cloud. Well, as his words began to be the ones that should have been listened to, he was no longer to be seen on CNBC. And then afterward we have such a comment like, “Well, nobody could have seen it coming.”
Well how could they, if they were no longer put on the show?
No, apparently there was such an insular crowd on Wall Street, the White House, and, most unfortunate, among the very media whose job it was neither to make news as prognosticators or economic experts, nor was it to be part of a partisan “anti-plunge patrol.” Their lack of even-handedness and their alliance with particular theories created just the kind of apparent reality that the trader bemoaned. No, it wasn’t that nobody was seeing it coming–as you see below, I was seeing it as inevitable from the shared experience of a mere decade or so ago. And I mention one figure who was silenced. So to the mystified trader who knew no one who saw anything but, as one particularly wrong-headed man phrased it, “a goldilocks economy.”
So, blinded by their greed, they missed what the people I knew were all seeing—danger ahead, and the unsustainability of a rally that had risen on so much manipulation, misinformation, and constant drum blows of obviously wrong economic talking points hammered over and over across our airwaves and drowning out every sound of warning or opposition, so that surprise and misinformation informed the trading decisions of the great bull traders.
So many people were hurt by this partisan power play. But that was the way of just about everything during those 8 years of, as one recent writer dubbed it, dictatorship.
If you’re still reading, you will see I have reasons for pointing these things out, providing this background, for it is this context of a kind of dumbness rising to the top which, even now, makes for the strangest of comments on TV talk shows, and the most asinine and foot-shooting policies and stances of the remaining Republicans.
Media Feel-Good Talk Does Not Equal Reality … and Why We’re Helpless to Prevent the Future Fukushimas and Killer Hurricanes.
Media Is the New “Opiate of the Masses,” with Pundits a New Priestly Caste Between Modern Pharoahs and the New Enslaved.
Media Mollifies Masses
All this being said, now, perhaps for you the Message in a Bottle provides, as it did to me, a provocative window into the workings of cause and effect. More than that I hope it sheds light on the huge efforts of deception that are ever needed to advance false partisan ideas which, though proven wrong, will by greed be raised anew and banner-like be carried forth to beat back the voices of common sense in favor of a reality that must be forced to be made to be true only because its rich adherents would wish it to be so.
Media Feel-Good Talk Does Not Equal Reality
Another advantage of having the time capsule is what we can learn about such warnings. Will the media tell you of impending doom, so that we might avert it?
No, they will, for the sake of ratings (profits), be a “feel good” media. They will spin out “comfort truth” — junk food for the mind — insubstantial and inconsequential and hardly soul-satisfying. But it will soothe the stresses brought to listeners through their otherwise participation in the capitalist matrix. As empty of truth as junk food is empty of nutrition it will act as medicine for the troubles of the postmodern soul—enslaved and unfree—but unaware even of that…and unable to even know that. So this media will serve the functions that religion once did for the elite, becoming another opiate of the masses. And the pundits will play the role of the priestly intermediaries between our modern pharoahs—the banksters and the filthy rich—and the masses upon which they feed.
So no, it is not the media’s role to warn us of disaster. Hardly. Indeed, when that disaster is one of the many forthcoming from the actions of those elite they serve, it will be the media’s job to set up the screens of smoke and trivia to distract and entertain away from real concerns. Then they will, as we’ve seen, report afterward on it and bring out the “No one could have foreseen this happening.” Well that is a self-serving lie. I hope that is gleaned from all this if nothing else.
I’ve been detailing on the media complicity, indeed, facility in the Great Recession caused by the tax cutting policies of George W Bush. But since then we have seen Fukushima, the BP oil spill, and Sandy. Could Fukushima have been prevented? Yes. For I can personally tell you, as an anti-nuke activist in the Eighties, how we were warning back then of the immense dangers of nuclear power plants and especially those on earthquake fault lines. Has the media advanced that story line? You know the answer to that.
Has the media since Fukushima kept us informed on developments there so we might prepare for the consequences coming to us from that? I’ll put it this way, I’ve had otherwise knowledgeable people tell me that “It is a good thing Fukushima turned out how it did … it could have been worse.” Worse? Something far worse than Chernobyl—which itself resulted in one million deaths (where’s the media on that fact?)—turned out ok? For this we can thank a media that stopped reporting on developments there when it turned out they could not spin it in any feel-good way. Things got worse, are still getting worse, and they stopped covering it.
Then there’s Sandy. It is being said this has brought climate change and global warming back into the dialogue. But why was it not in already? We have an entire political party in America hell bent on ignoring global warming in their insane pursuit of profits at any and all costs. Has the media been on top of this? Those self-interested climate-denying Republicans—has the media been holding their feet to the fire? Have they even lit a match near their feet? You know the answer again. For prior to Sandy and in four presidential and vice presidential debates there was not even ONE question … from the media, mind you … on the environment … let alone, climate change or Fukushima. Yet there was plenty of interest in setting up the candidates to see who could be the most manly on drilling and fracking our way to ecological hell.
Feel good media? I think so! At odds with reality? You tell me.
In the Past It Has Had Horrific Consequences.
Feel-good talk does not equal reality. If it did there would not have been the Nazis, the Holocaust, a Stalin—five million dead; a Cambodia—millions dead; a Rwanda—dead dead dead; or an AIDS epidemic—uncountable dead and growing.
Yet what I wrote over a decade ago, at the time if it had been shared in any place of power, would no doubt have been challenged by this word: “Paranoid.” This is the common way the public uses denial to avoid harsh realities. Blame the messengers, the dangers go away. I’m sure my planetmate friend’s piece earlier has already been labeled that way: “Paranoid.” “It’s all paranoia on the part of some crazies” is the common attitude.
That is the way we keep out the truth. It is like using a drug to ease the pain of your cancer, but it doesn’t do anything to keep you from dying.
Indeed, the planetmates’ lament, though it be labeled paranoid, is based on the findings of the best scientific minds of our times about the environmental collapses—the outright ecocide that is upon us from so many causes and in ways that are now uncountable in number. Their message is so much more important in that we will likely reach the point of no return long before the masses of humanity are severely suffering from the continued environmental assault. I don’t like to say it, but it needs to be said that some are convinced that it is already too late, that we had a window of opportunity and blew it. I know of groups in the know who are absolutely convinced there is no saving us now and that it is naïve to expect anything but doom.
Troubling it is that, on top all that’s been said about this message and what it has told us about what we lost and how far we are now from where we need to go, not to mention knowing we were betrayed by our government obviously, we now realize without a doubt our media too helped when they could have stopped it all.
Wonderful Can Happen, Part Three — Amazingly, Charlie Brown Connects: Remember … “Yes, We Can” Proved We Could
Shaken Out of Our Mental Maze, We Would Be A-Mazed: Lucy Apologizes, Sisyphus Rests, A Man Who Said “Yes We Can,” Would
Why Know This? Amazingly, Charlie Brown Connects
So, these things we know. They are sobering rationalizations and ones we should not run from.
But lastly and most importantly, these prescient thoughts of long ago help me. I find that these time-capsule writings from my former mind are able to inform me and sharpen my vision of the Now, as the events continue unfolding and rolling relentlessly over and through us and are reflected in high-pixel, high-def, infinite colors clarity on the flat screens all about. This time is felt and witnessed, the story being revealed cinema-like, but with pundits galore expounding 24/7, like loud-mouthed fellow movie-goers.
But then also they become the movie and are interwoven into the times themselves. And their words, with this time capsule before me, are sounding childish, repetitive, forgetful, amnesiacal. Especially this is true as many of the ones speaking now are remembered as being the exact persons commenting then. And their words, little changed, bespeak a zen-like ability to be newly alarmed, being reborn in every minute, but yet totally unchanged and untaught by all the years of witnessing and commentary. So they also have forgotten the way they once saw the world and their life … just as I once did.
If We Knew, Would We Act?
It seems a defense mechanism to forget that we saw all this coming. For to know that is to despair in realizing the impotence, even, of awareness. Who wants to realize that in these matters even a knowledge of the story line, as if having seen the movie once before, is totally useless? Who wants to think that there is a helplessness in affecting the events of our lives and times, that there is a total futility in changing or steering away or around even the tragedies clearly seen beforehand?
For knowing this we feel as detached as actual cinema-goers from the unfolding of the plotline. We feel ourselves to be not actors and hardly even the scriptwriters of our lives, instead merely the witnesses of intensely shocking and stunning events, which we actually expected but hoped we would be wrong about. So wouldn’t we want to block out that awareness of the futility of our actions? Wouldn’t we have to in order to have the heart to keep going at it? To get up and keep trying every day?
Sisyphus Remembering, Would He Continue Pushing?
If we remembered, like Charlie Brown approaching the football, or like Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill… if we remembered, would we continue to act?
No, we have to believe that we will be surprised this time, that indeed Lucy will hold the football and we will complete the kick. It is said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. As true as that is, how ironic then that we realize that those who remember history too clearly are doomed to helplessness in the midst of its unfolding. So it seems we are ineffectual either way.
But There’s More To It
Yet this is not the whole truth. If it were, then the cynicism we felt about “The Audacity of Hope”…remember that book?…well, that cynicism would have proven a correct perception. We would have been bored, again, watching a naïve young idealistic black man—like the many before, differing only in skin color—seeing his efforts, visions, hopes, and heartfelt desires to be helpful and to love away some of the darkness in the world around him vanish like the memory of yesterday’s storm-driven winds. But we, I, was one time wrong in that cynicism.
Lucy Apologizes, Sisyphus Rests.
To the astonishment, truly, of an entire world, Charlie Brown connected with the football, Lucy apologized for her past actions, and one heavy boulder remained steady on the top of a hill and gave a man a much needed rest from his endless labors.
For one incredible and glorious time, the movie we’d seen had a different ending—amazing enough in itself. But also the tragedy in the original did not occur. And as if God had for a time touched this planet, this Reality we call our World, our Life…as if God had just for one time touched, tipped, and turned our events, the awesomely unexpected happened.
A man so unbelievably naïve and unaware as to declare the “audacity of hope” and to call out and stir up the masses, deluding them as we’ve seen so many times before, that “yes, we can,” would.
Shaken Out of Our Mental Maze, We Would Be A-Mazed.
And we’d have to pinch ourselves to believe it to actually be happening even as we witnessed it. That he would actually succeed in doing exactly what he said he would do would not only show us that a man could actually affect the course of events, would show us that a person could not only change things from the way they’d always been (what kind of man can this be?). But that he would do it in a grand and sweeping way would be all the more astonishing. We would be all the more unbelieving that a man who said “yes we can” not only could but he could do it in a way that achieved beyond merely succeeding; never mind that merely succeeding would be doing the impossible.
The Only Thing We Can Be Truly Sure Of … Is We Can Never Be Sure… Which Means That Anything Is Possible… Which Means That Everything Is Possible.
Our Inability to Know Is the Source of a Hope That IS Real: Wonderful Can Happen, Part Four: It’s Just as Likely the Miraculous Will Happen.
Just When We Thought We Knew…
So I am saddened having been awakened from my forgetfulness by this catscan of a mind perfectly preserved in an electronically sealed time capsule… oh, what could have been…. But then I remember, happily, that we are, I am, imperfect prophets and seers. That just when it seems we know, for sure now, how things are, the way the world is, and how the movie will end; that just then when we know, totally convinced we are, that truly things will be as they will be and that it is futile to rail against the inevitable, to hope, even to try; that just then when we have finally accepted “reality for what it is,” accepted “life on its own terms” not ours; that when we’d given up the things of youth, accepted the limitations of life, addressed ourselves, resignedly, to carrying forward on the mundane things of life, to the ordinary activities of everyperson, to the simple responsibilities and expectations of every man, every person, from every time that’s ever been and accepted the unrelenting lack of specialness in either our times or ourselves…that just at that time we would be touched and wakened to see that the most unchanging thing of life is not its utter resistance to change, its utter forgetfulness and repetition, but is the mysterious darkness surrounding the utter clarity of everyday knowingness, is in fact the imperfection of ourselves even as we observe so clearly the assured imperfection of the world.
Anything Is Possible… Which Means That Everything Is Possible
Sounds complicated. What I’m saying I think is important enough to repeat. I’ll say it more simply.
The most unchanging thing of life is not the things we see that never change. They are not the most unchanging thing of life. The most unchanging thing of life is something surrounding the absolute clarity we have about these things, these harsh realities even. When you’ve finally come to accept life, you’ve accepted these unpleasant things, these hard truths, and you think that for sure now you’ve got it, that it was all about learning to accept that…and thereby become the “adult,” the seasoned, assured cynic.
Accepting Life’s Pain. But Because We Are Imperfect…
But rather, the most unchanging and most true thing about life is that no matter how much we think we know how exactly life is, there’s a darkness surrounding that utter everyday clarity that we carry around and share with our neighbors, reinforcing it’s trueness. There’s a darkness surrounding it. And that darkness is in fact the imperfection of our selves. We’re not perfect; we’re not all-knowing. It is in fact the imperfection of ourselves even as we observe so clearly the assured imperfection of the world, you see. I’m being sarcastic there.
What I’m saying is: Knowing that, we know that it is exactly the imperfection that is the most solid thing in life. You see? It’s not the things that they try to make solid. This is the thing that is solid, is gonna be there, always. Nobody has to try to make that happen, there’s always going to be an unknown.
Therefore, since there’s always going to be an unknown there’s always going to be human imperfection. For we may think we know everything, sometimes. But only a fool goes through life very long thinking that. And so, in knowing that, knowing that that’s the most unchanging thing of life, the thing you can really count on, that’s never going to go away…well, we know that it is exactly the imperfection, that lack that’s in a person, that evil, that unmoving wrongness of the world that we have tried so futilely to change, that being in us, is the source of the blessedness of life, which is the fact that our ultimate unknowingness is the only true source of a hope that IS real,
It’s Possible “Something Wonderful Is Going to Happen.”
It is only because we know that we cannot really know, for sure, that then we can know for sure that there’s always got to be hope because we could never know for sure that there wasn’t. So, what a blessing that is. That being wrong, being imperfect means something unbelievable when you think of it: Which is that against all odds, “something wonderful is going to happen.”
Ultimate unknowingness is the only true source of a hope that is real. And you say, how can you say that? You say, that’s not true. Then I ask you, are you perfect? You say, no. Then I say, the only true thing is that you’re not perfect, so that anything you are absolutely sure is wrong has a possibility of being right.
And Anything Is Possible … Means Everything Is Possible.
So, who knows? You might say that we don’t know what’s real. That’s true, of course, so why would we necessarily think things are dire right now? Why, it’s just as possible that something wonderful is going to happen. It’s just as likely that, in spite of ourselves, the miraculous can happen; that magic is real; and that hope, and happiness, and blessedness, and forgiveness, and glorious divine wonders beyond even the envisioning of our ideals are possible.
And all because the only thing that we can be truly sure of—even when we are finally convinced that we should not expect anything special—is that we can never be sure… which means that anything is possible… which means that everything is possible.
Continue with Culture War, Class War, Chapter Twenty-Four: Naked Republicans
Return to Culture War, Class War, Chapter 22: Horrors Worse Than That
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