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It's Our Own Damn Fault

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In this reprint from 2007, the view from the Scenic Route hasn't changed much

Molly Ivins is dead of a “screamin’ case of cancer,” as she put it, so now who’s going to raise Hell with our idiots in Washington, D.C.? They are ours, by the way; we elected them. The idiots are not all Republicans or all Democrats, either, nor are they really idiots, but we haven’t won any intelligence contest for electing them and allowing them the power they wield in our lives and the lives of the world. We’re the ones who accept what they say when they tell us they are working for the greater good and every indication says that they are working for their own.

There is so much Hell to raise, it’s hard to know where to start. But we gotta start or it will be the end. Of us. Of the U.S., in particular. I suppose one place to start is to start paying attention to—and honoring—our charter.

We have a magnificent mandate from the writers of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and men like Washington, Lincoln and the Roosevelts. But, we have never lived up to it. That noble thought that “all men are created equal” has never been well served in our history. If you want to argue that, read about our treatment of Africans we kidnapped to provide cheap labor and Native populations our government practiced genocide on and ultimately imprisoned in a reservation system that exists today.

“Give us your huddled masses,” our great Lady in New York Harbor calls. The unstated end of that fine sentiment might read, “so they and their children can slave for nothing in our factories and mines.” It wasn’t until 1938 that we passed laws preventing minor children from working 12-hour shifts in dangerous conditions to make our wealthiest, “leading” citizens more wealthy. Some of these “bastions of industry” fought reform all the way because it cut into their well-lined pockets.

We still help petty, elitist, greedy and egomaniacal men and women gain the power of the Senate, House, Cabinet and presidency, but a nation’s leadership in a democratic society is indicative of what the electorate is like. By the leadership we manifest, it is apparent that we are self-centered, complacent, apathetic, selfish, greedy and think we are entitled. As a group, we are those things, okay?

Not okay? Well, too bad. We are. We get mad, sometimes, but then we go home and turn on “Funniest Home Videos” to take our blues away, which, on the most part, ain’t really funny. Often, they are about someone suffering pain or embarrassment.

Who are we, anyway, to laugh at and exploit the misfortune of others for ten minutes of fame? (Even Andy Warhol’s currency is subject to inflation.)

Right now, our country is spending billions of dollars annually in an absolutely stupid (I am POUNDING on the keyboard) war in Iraq that turns 8-year-olds into combatants, thinking about spending billions more in an another absolutely stupid war with Iran, and we can’t even take care of our own children. We are not providing them with health care, we are slashing education and cultural programs, and instead, sending 18-year-olds off to the Middle East to get their heads blown off.

We spend more on making foreign kids into terrorists than we do on taking care of our own children. One for instance is the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, SCHIP. This program is jointly financed by federal and state governments and administered by the states. It provides health care for children whose parents (or, more likely, parent) can’t pay the rent, buy food, clothe their kids and still afford $300 a month for health insurance. It’s been very successful, keeping kids healthy who might otherwise slip through the cracks, and now, the Feds are thinking of cutting it back. Ironically, a recent effort to bolster it was tied to an appropriations bill for the war in Iraq. What on God’s green earth is the matter with us?

I have an idea on the answer to that.

A number of years ago, I dabbled at reading “The Golden Bough,” by Sir James Frazier, a monstrous and completely British-centric anthropologic treatise on the nature of power in human relationships. He concluded early in the book that it was often those willing to lie and manipulate their fellows who rose to power. His conclusion stands well-proven. Many of our leaders are self-serving sorts who tell us what they want us to believe in order to fill their own pockets and the pockets of their friends or to fulfill their own egos. 

Why do they do this? Because they can, and because we let them. We’re the ones who put a check beside their names and sent them off to Washington, D.C.—or Boise—or Helena—or Olympia.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we need some serious reform in our world, and the only place we can start is in our own country. We need to start holding corporations liable for the damage, both human and ecological, that they do in their endeavors to enrich their stockholders, management and boards of directors. We need to figure out a way to make our government responsible to the governed. We need to fire some of the idiots. But, if we are going to do that, we need to realize that, in spite of what finger pointers and blamers like Rush and Michael Savage have to say, (and by the way, they are telling you what you want to hear to fill their own pockets, also) that it’s our own damned fault and we are the only ones who can do anything about our circumstances, but we will never be able to do so until we are willing to admit our mistakes, face our problems and failings and reform ourselves, too.

Molly might tell us that the first thing we need to do is stop being idiots ourselves.

 Sandy Compton’s books are available on-line at bluecreekpress.com.  This was written in March of 2007. With a few word changes, such as “Afghanistan” for “Iraq” and additions, such as “and Tea Partiers” after Michael Savage, it still works for me. Life can be simple if we live it that way. SC

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Author info

Sandy Compton Sandy Compton Sandy Compton is one of the original contributors to The River Journal, and owner and publisher at Blue Creek Press (www.bluecreekpress.com). His latest book is Side Trips From Cowboy: Addiction, Recovery and the Western American Myth

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The Scenic Route, Molly Ivins

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