Friday, November 25, 2011

About the Other Night

So uh, yeah, maybe I was channeling Burroughs a bit back there, not by intention but it kinda shook out that way. And of course there are plenty of things I actually am thankful for -- a healthy family, a job, a house, a reliable vehicle, a reasonably valuable skill set.

But even those things come with a set of caveats: since I work in the public sector, findingfunding is always precarious, I don't have much seniority, and I spend at least three nights a week looking for greener pastures in a moribund job market; the house is underwater, not as much as a lot of folks out there, but enough to make me a glorified renter; and even with pretty decent medical insurance, we still have to check EOBs and medical billing clerks and haggle with insurance companies whose provider lists may or may not be accurate at any given time. That's the thing in this country anymore -- even people who are doing "okay" are really just a paycheck or two from the sidewalk, still have to worry about job security in a flat economy, still have to waste hours on end haggling over routine doctor's office visits -- again, with medical insurance.

But all those things are a given, really. What's really burning my ass is the indifference or insouciance paid to the more blatant examples of official thuggery in our midst. We've been long accustomed to it, obviously. People were hunky and/or dory with police-state actions in the War on Some Drugs, no-knock warrants, civil asset forfeiture without trial nor even charge. And 9/11 just sealed that deal, and utilized technological advances to snoop and secure ever more.

So we're comfortable with masked DEA guys kicking in doors and shooting without provocation, just as we're inured to ordinary county mounties and town clowns tasering speeders for getting lippy. We're jake with whisking people to Gitmo, be they bountied Afghan shepherds or homegrown assholes, and stuffing them away for years on end, again without charge nor trial.

So what's the big deal about pepper-spraying college kids and elderly women for sitting on a sidewalk? After all, it might prevent potential consumers from getting that sweet-ass Black Friday deal, right?

Oh, and about that:

This year, reports of injuries, fights and at least one shooting have come in from across the country, with one California customer even fending off competing shoppers with pepper spray.

Words fail. Not to advocate vigilantism, but one hopes at the very least that when they check the surveilance tapes and figure out who this dunce is, her victims drop by with fresh pepper-spray canisters of their own.

But those stories, much like the thing itself are overblown; when the herd is heavily encouraged to converge, we shouldn't be too surprised when there's trampling here and there.

The part that's puzzling is that we continue to put up with all this shit, even though we know that we know better. I don't know if the prime instinct has simply become escapism at every turn, whether it's self-actualizing through shopping or endless schlock, or what. But again, it's really just going to come down to unplugging from the system, to stop feeding the beast.


M. said...

I am unplugging from the beast, and -- would you believe it -- I'm saving money, even though they cut my salary this year by a quarter. But, to be honest, I don't have kids, so I'm not a representative case.

But I can't keep wondering, what are these oligarchs thinking about the longer-term prospects of their grift? I don't mean the financial bookies; those fuckers still have pension funds and the country's Social Security to plunder. But there's also the heads of commercial beasts -- the people who depend on us peons spending money for them to survive. If nobody has a job or enough money to spend, what's their future gonna be like? This is what I don't get.

And I do think that it may take a few people shot in the streets for the political wave to turn in our favor. On the one hand, maybe there won't be as many people as got killed in early 20th-century labor struggles -- the fact that everyone has a camera now greatly multiplies the impact on public perception of even a few protesters shot by police thugs. Also, I'm glad we have blogs now, 'cause we can bypass the bullshit that national mass-media would slather all over such incidents, if/when they happen.

On the other hand, it's unclear how such human sacrifices in public might translate into effective political action. There isn't presently a critical mass of truly left-wing politicians. We've never been closer to Vidal's dictum that this is a country ruled by a single party with two right wings. And I'm not even sure there is a pool of potential left wing politicians to take up the mantle, if the moment arises. I was dismayed by DougJ's comment the other day at Balloon Juice that he keeps running into liberals who agree with him on the premises but think the solution is more "civility" and "compromise" and Broderist shit.

Tehanu said...

Heywood, I'm glad you're feeling a bit better than the other day -- but I don't blame you one bit for anything you wrote either then or here. I often feel the same especially when I look at the often-sorry record of my age cohort (I'm 64). But then again, I'm female and I'm deeply grateful that we've made the advances we have, so it hasn't all been for nothing. Anyhow -- please keep writing !