Monday, July 04, 2005

The Declaration Of Codependence

We, the average People of the United States, in trying to find some magical way to get all the gadgets and doodads that the rich folk on TV get, have allowed them to scam us. (Yeah, I know the "we the people" trope is from the Constitution, not the Declaration of Independence. Artistic license and shit, okay?)

We have let them encourage us that not only is being rich the most exalted state of human existence, but that getting there can actually be accomplished just by hard work, moxie, and/or gumption. This, of course, is hooey. When was the last time you heard of a poor kid bootstrapping himself up from nothing with a brilliant, life-changing invention? I know, you shout "Bill Gates!" at your monitor, and your cubicle-mate suddenly looks over at you disdainfully, making glug-glug gestures behind your back, because you're yelling at your monitor again.

Well, "Bill Gates" is an acceptable enough answer, because with the kind of money he has, he could have started out a millionaire and it would still look pretty much like he bootstrapped himself. But Gates did drop out of Harvard, something 99% of Americans will never even have the chance to do. So it wasn't like he was the 13th of 17 children in a tarpaper shack in rural West Virginia.

Either way, forget about extremes for the moment. Let's think about the median, the average Joe or Jane, basically you n' me, podna. Now, you know that in your heart of hearts, you yourself will probably never be rich, certainly not rich enough, since there's no such thing, right? And you secretly harbor the notion that for every self-made millionaire, there's nine or ten others who got their pelf by more nefarious means -- insider trading, energy hedge-fund grifting, taking advantage of corporate perks unavailable to most people, etc. Bottom line, they knew how to game the system, legally or not. Or they got their money the old-fashioned way -- they inherited it.

So you're probably not going to re-invent the wheel, or develop and innovate some technological wonder, nor will you suddenly engineer yourself a nice get-rich-quick scheme. If you were going to, you probably would have already.

And we all know this about ourselves, yet we still like to believe that dreams can come true. We fantasize about how we'd spend our Powerball millions, or the Indian casino slot-machine payoff, or whatever fantastic windfall awaits our daydreams. It's nice, but it doesn't answer the question as to why we might consider plopping a coin in a slot machine and getting impossibly lucky to be some measure of actual success, as opposed to incredible luck.

This is where our carefully-engineered environment of consumerism comes into play. Do you have the new Escalade with the spinner rims that impress the girlies, and the DVD screens in the backs of the headrest so Junior can watch Shrek 3 instead of reading a book or observing the world around him as he travels through it? No?!? What kind of "parent" or "pussyhound" are you? Are you some kind of fag, or deadbeat dad? I don't know about you, Holmes, them shoes look like they from last spring or some shit. Hell, you prob'ly still listenin' to Maroon 5, aintcha? That's like so last week. Whut-evuhr. Don't you know all the kewl kids have these gadgets? I bet your cell phone doesn't even play Tetris, chump.

You get the idea. Jonesmanship. We don't read anymore, and our school system fails to impart even a modicum of critical thought, partly because they are merely babysitting emporia at this point, partly because teachers who might get notions about teaching children something useful generally get shot down by the reptiles running the political side of things. Critical thinking requires comparing things we have read, and since we don't read, we don't have anything to compare in terms of philosophical thought.

That happens in college, and even then, the relative few that can afford to go to college generally get quickly subsumed by whatever political claque sorts out their presumed political beliefs by their hairstyles. Regardless, it is usually a gumbo of politically-charged buzzwords and slogans.

As annoying as the patchouli-smelling hackey-dorks can be, the current breed of college Republican armchair tough-guys are beneath contempt. Let me put it to you in lingo you can understand, Hitler Youth Chumpzilla -- if you support a war, and you are of the age of service, and you know that your country needs you because they haven't met recruitment levels in almost six months, you better either enlist, or sit down and shut the fuck up. Keggers "for the troops" don't count for diddly-squat.

Martin Mull famously said that real life is like high school with money, and he was right. Right now, the school is being run by fake tough guys, who would go over and kick some ass and show 'em what's what, but they don't wanna jeopardize their future, man. So objectively they're perfectly happy to let those with less of a future go fight their fight for them -- poor kids, either from the inner city or the rural countryside, where a $10K signing bonus sounds better than a Walmart/Mickey D's drone job. After all, someone has to stay stateside and fuck cheerleaders and figure out how to grift the next generation as close to the bounds of legality as possible, right?

And we have let them get away with it because we think we would like to be in such a position, at least financially. Those of us with common sense know that the true benefit of having money is that it allows you to not have to constantly worry about not having money. Only a self-indulgent two-year-old thinks it's so you can go out and buy a Hummer. With that level of mentality, you'd be better off just buying a Hummer-sized box, and playing with the box.

You can make a tree fort with such a large box. Wouldn't that be fun?

Anyway, in our state of perpetual bamboozlement, we are not thinking about our current state of codependence, it seems. The majority of Americans seem to placidly accept that even though we're at war over a scarce resource that is only getting scarcer, we piss it away as if it were free. We don't care that our addiction has propped up some vile dictatorships over the last several decades -- but we're all about the liberation in Iraq. Uh, okay. We should be insisting that our government spearhead a great national project to get us off this pernicious drug.

And we need to realize that as lumpy and bumpy as the US economy has been of late, it would be even worse if not for China's temporary beneficence. We are borrowing money with which to buy shit from them. This is an untenable position to be in, and it will only last as long as it is mutually beneficial. At some point the Chinese will either cultivate other markets so they won't need us as much, or they will decide that they should be seeing a higher rate of return to meet with the expectations of their centralized economy. Either way, it won't be pretty.

Have we done anything to prepare for this eventuality, or have we been soaking ourselves in tired bromides about "faith" and "freedom" and "family", none of which these hucksters actually gives a rat's shit about?

[Part 2: The Money Shot]


Craig Heath said...

Damn, Sir - this is perhaps one of the best, most concise (and entertaining) synopses of the state of our economic union I've ever read. Kudos and a Pullet Surprise to you too!

(Most especially enjoyed the Yellow Elephant Challenge - put your bloodstream where your mouth is, War Party Punks!)

Just a quick side note to your point, re:China:

We are borrowing money with which to buy shit from them. This is an untenable position to be in, and it will only last as long as it is mutually beneficial.

Does anyone remember "the company store" lesson? Or is that something that can't be taught until you're a graduate student in Ancient American (Labor) History anymore? You keep borrowin' from "the man" until the day you die (and the man keeps your money), or the man closes shop and moves on to another town of suckers.

The other day, I passed by a Hummer dealership and saw a delicious MILF and her baseball-cap huzbund being talked at by a salesman, standing next to a bright yellow H2. Buy American, Joe Upper-Middle-Class! Show those brown and epicanthic peoples you don't give a damn for their goat-and-squid-eatin' ways! Our oil is under your sand! Our Star Wars Action Figures are in your warehouses! And nothing will ever change.

"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.", said Lao Tzu

Heywood J. said...

Thanks for the props, vato. It's hard work bein' done by good people -- except that it ain't really that hard, and I'm not really that good of people.

They never talked about company stores in any American History class I ever took. But it's a good point. I'm sure they're trying to figure a way to pay us all in Walmart scrip right this very moment.

Anyway. I like milfs. I just thought I'd reiterate that. I fuckin' love milfs. Milfs with Hummers, I dunno. I'd have to see the milf first. It's a sliding scale.

A corollary to the Lao Tzu quote might be that, as a nation, we must want to be where we are, because every decision we've made has led us right to this point.

Craig Heath said...

Roger that - we are where we are because we are here.

Or as W.L.Livingston said in "Have Fun At Work" the Purpose of a System is What It Does (POSIWID). Judge a system by it's results - they show what it is organized to do.

By their fruits shall ye know them. Duh, hey.

Milfs rule. I'm with you on Hummer milfs - I too hesitate. But she was a contender, I swear.

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