Sunday, September 22, 2013

about the United States and Murphy's Law

Eric Schlosser's new book Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety has turned my thinking back to accidents. In my last post I referred to Edward McClelland's analysis of the middle class in the United States. He called it an accident. If he's right, I'd add that the temporary phenomenon known as "The American Dream" has been replaced with a nightmare. That nightmare is economic and it is a nightmare that I doubt will rise to the conscious level of most Americans as a true "class warfare" issue. Rather than analysis I will try to make that point with a true story.
I chatted with a man on Padre Island in 2011, the first year I camped there with my dog Edy, writing songs and practicing up for Austin open mics. He was the manager of a Sears appliance repair facility. It was his career; he was something like 20 years into the job. He told me that, despite the overall problems of the Sears corporation, appliance sales and maintenance were still profit centers. Yet, he also told me of the downsizing his unit had undergone and his relief at surviving with a decent income. Then, he tells me of the immigrant employees he supervises and how they all say, "America is the best country in the world for an immigrant." He said it obviously as a statement of the greatness of the United States. I thought, well yeah, if you're immigrating from anywhere except Great Britain, Germany, France, Canada, etc., sure, "America, what a country."
Now, I'm reading about how close the United States has come to accidental (what a shame I must add that word) nuclear detonations within our borders! Go here, to Politico, for an interview with Eric Schlosser. Or here on Or go here for The Guardian book review and interview.
Pete Seeger began his lovely book Where Have All the Flowers Gone: a Musical Autobiography with a discussion of Murphy's Law - "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." It seems that from a rational point of view a huge proportion of the human race is doomed. There are just too many BIG things that can go wrong! In the United States, a sizeable minority controls the government. This minority has a distressing penchant for banding together on Big Issues, so it doesn't much matter how one refers to them: they are The Religious Right, The Gun Nuts, The Unscientific Minded, The Haters of the UN, the rascist, ignorant, manipulated masses ... In short, The Republican Party. These dangerous people are enabled by: those who eschew politics altogether, those who pay no attention to real news, those who never receive "news" from a source that covers the rest of the world, those who have only one issue and they "got theirs" whether it be marriage or marijuana or...  In short Democrats and non-voters.
I heard a BBC reporter use the word "perverse" in relation to the inability of the United States to view gun violence as an important issue. Yes, it is perverse that our Congress cannot pass a Constitutional fix that would address gun ownership AND drastically reduce gun violence. Yes, it is perverse that our Supreme Court elected a president and WE did NOT take to the streets in protest!!
And it is perverse that WE go on with, I think I will call it, The Presidential Obsession. One Man, or maybe One Woman, will lead us back to the American Dream, the Promised Land ... The United States is unconsciously begging for a dictator.

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