Sunday, October 12, 2008
Chilly wind sharp as a razor blade,
House on fire, debts unpaid,
Gonna stand at the window, gonna ask the maid,
Have you seen dignity?
America is angry. And frankly, we have every right to be.
Over the last eight years, we’ve been buttered up, talked down to, led down the primrose path. And in the process, we’ve been robbed blind.
It would be one thing if we’d been cornered in a dark alley, held at gunpoint and told to hand over everything in our pockets. But that’s not the way the deal’s gone down. It happened in broad daylight, right in the middle of the street.
Instead of having a gun shoved in our ribcage, we’ve had a knife slowly slipped into our back. And we could have only been so lucky as to have been asked to empty our pockets. After all, I don’t know how many Americans carry their entire life savings in their pant pockets. But that’s what the boys on Wall Street walked away with last week.
Estimates vary (after all the estimates are being provided by the guys who stuck it to us in the first place), but one thing’s for sure. Our pockets are empty. And so are our bank accounts. Which means mortgages can’t be paid, car loans can’t be paid, school loans can’t be paid. And just try to turn to your 401K plan for relief. Wall Street’s scorched earth policy burned all that up, too.
The irony, of course, is that while money may be the symptom, the real sickness is the disease of conceit. Sure Lehman is out of business; AIG is $85 billion in the hole; Wachovia is awash in a sea of debt. But the real crime here is that the people running these companies just walked away. The soul of a nation under the knife, and the bankers and politicians are the only ones who got a cut.
We’ve always been told that America is built on a single unifying principle: Hard work pays off. Looks like the old adage may not be true. Certainly not today. Truth be told, many of us are wondering if it was ever true.
According to a recent CNN Money poll, nearly six out of ten Americans believe our country is heading for another economic depression. Quite a frightening turn in public opinion from the halcyon days of just a year ago when the financial markets were at a generational high.
American is angry. But this isn’t some conspiratorial destruction of the American Dream. It’s much scarier than that. This is the real thing. After years of steady moral, ethical and financial decline, we are no longer just a distraught nation. We are a nation in peril.
Caption: Peter Finch as prophetic newscaster Howard Beale in Network. It’s amazing how some things never change.
In the last eight years, the fabric of this country has been torn to shreds. We are fighting an unpopular war abroad while we ship American jobs to China and India. At home, we cannot educate our youth, we cannot take care of our elderly, and animosity toward America has reached an all-time high.
“But don’t worry,” they tell us. “Be patient. Everything will be okay." Sure, America will come back. We always do.
But who the hell are they kidding? It ain’t ever going to come back all the way. Not until we restore the thing that our leaders really robbed us of in the first place…
Lookin’ east, Lookin’ west,
See people curse, see people blessed
Asking everybody like a man possessed
Have you seen dignity?