• A Failure of Balance.

    The national economy is still suffering from a failure of balance. Attempts are on-going to make banks and other major players within the financial sector "whole" with billions upon billions of dollars in financial aid. Meanwhile, most Americans find themselves unable to cover a $1000 emergency if need be. Profits are going up while wages and benefits are going down. This is becoming less of a failure of balance and more of one end of the balance scale being cut off with a pair of bolt cutters.

    The blame could be laid directly at the feet of the bankers and the government, but more than enough's been done on that end by so many others that it would just feel like an effort in duplication, if not outright plagiarism. Instead, focus will shift onto the average Dick and Janes of America, most of whom seen the economic damage done by a highly unregulated and insanely well-heeled force and perhaps felt it first hand, but can't quite or don't want to comprehend the need for outright revulsion against it.

    "Outright revulsion?" No, it's not some commie/socialist/marxist tactic that exhorts equal redistribution of income according to one's need or such tripe. There are a vast number of Americans who can get pissed off at a multi-faceted corporate entity for taking their money, but go doe-eyed the moment they see the CEO driving the latest Reventon or living it up on the yacht with models in tow. This is very much the country of MTV's "Cribs" and "Real Housewives," where people live vicariously through the voyeuristic displays of other people's wealth. Americans may hate their banks, but they still love their money.

    Most Americans are not only star-struck and doe-eyed by the wealthy and the trappings of their wealth, but they also see themselves as being wealthy one day. As such, they want all the advantages and breaks bestowed upon the current wealthy to remain in place for when they, the average Dicks and Janes, eventually arrive, if they ever. Of course, they never do, as the wealthy are wont to make sure no one else gets a chance to climb the ladders of extraordinary success.

    Meanwhile, average Dick and Jane are too exhausted from working 50 to 80 hour work weeks for a declining salary/wage and little to no benefits to comprehend any of this. They're too busy wondering how to stretch their budgets to cover ever-increasing bills and ever-rising costs of ordinary food and household items to give this any thought. Spending hours on Facebook or plopping themselves down on the couch for 30 to 45 minute respites from their immediate reality saves them from dwelling on how well they're being fucked by groups of people who could care less about their overall well being.

    In the end, you really can't get rid of the "soon, I too shall be among ye" mentality most Americans share when attempting to commiserate with the wealthy unless there is either an immediate pain or a long, drawn out process that slowly beats or breeds this attitude out of them. The former is a great depression that finally hits enough Americans in the wallet for them to illicit immediate correction of their current circumstances or else. The latter involves Americans spending three or more generations under an aristocratic oligarchy, where all of the avenues for the average Dick and Jane "striking it rich" are coldly and cruelly cut off, full stop. It's a world where the only wealth floating around will be generational wealth at the hands of the new gilded class and corporate wealth at the hands of multinational corporate concerns. Sadly, the small business owner, a.k.a. "merchant class" will still ignore reminders that he'll never be fit to be a part of the wealthy. At least he'll still be wealthier than his utterly impoverished contemporaries, which gives him a nice big punching bag to wail on out of arrogance and vanity.

    In my personal opinion, the worst thing George W. Bush did during his attempts to sooth the national shock of 9/11 was to tell ordinary Americans to "go shopping." From that moment on, consumerism became the balm that soothed the nation's wounds, aside from always being a reason for being as far as many Americans were concerned -- it's been that way ever since the late 1940s. In a race to achieve that dream of "arriving," many Americans tried to "arrive" on credit -- it's how you get "$30k millionaires" living in mass-produced $700k houses bought with $0-down robo-signed mortgages, driving $50k Corvettes and taking vacations financed by adding another $200k worth of debt on top of the mortgage. Not enough people understood that many of the wealthy got where they are today either with ruthless business dealings, careful and calculated long-term investing or a flat-out inheritance. Trying to "arrive" on credit only results in your card being declined at the swanky restaurant, to your unending embarrassment.

    I'm not here to place all of the blame on ordinary Americans for this current financial clusterfuck, but to highlight some of the attitudes that played a part in bringing us to where we are.

    As an aside, a lot of the debt problems people are being faced with should be solved with debt forgiveness, if only to prevent the reappearance of generational debt and the looming possibility of debtor's prisons and bonded labor being implemented to recoup unpaid debts alongside garnishments. Corporations wouldn't mind seeing debt criminalized if it meant a swift and effective way of pressuring people into working themselves to death to pay back their debts, and a way to gain access to extremely low cost labor via prison labor without having to depend on today's criminal statues. Most people in this country aren't criminals right now, but with the criminalization of debt...

    Student loans are a pet peeve of mine, if only the fact I'm paying mine off at this moment. Many will argue that changing the non-dischargeable nature of student loans will open the floodgates to intentional defaults and bankruptcies, but that problem pales in comparison to the inability of graduates to pay their loans back in a reasonable amount of time, the inflationary nature of student loan aid on university tuition and the havoc student loans play on peoples' credit scores. The ability to discharge a student loan based on a strict criteria of conditions and the willingness of the loan recipients to abide by probationary conditions set during the discharge period, with the understanding that future options may be somewhat limited for the next few years could go a long way towards getting people from under that debt. Either that or the U.S. finally wises up and makes secondary and continuing education completely state-funded and free for all Americans. I doubt that latter option will ever make it on any legislative agenda during this century.