The Rational Middle today makes the natural progression from the insane to the sublimely stupid, as my depression of last week is turned to blunt astonishment by events local, national, and international.
Around The World
Afghanistan’s U.S. installed puppet leader (it would really be more appropriate to call him the Governor of Kabul, as Afghanistan lies outside of the Western views of nation-state) has apparently decided that it is politically expedient to not be friends with the United States. I guess I don’t blame the man, when we leave there will be a healthy number of folks ready to settle scores with Karzai, but is it really advisable to be so overtly belligerent?
In the depths of an Illinois winter determined to make up for last year’s snowless wonderland, my depression is prompting questions of a profound nature. So what sits at the front of the philosophy parade? A simple set of questions: can America survive a brave new culture led by shows like Amish Mafia and The Real Housewives of Wherever? Is reality truly as unreal as reality TV purports to show? Is our nation’s culture now defined by the lowest common denominator? I’m not so sure.
When I speak with friends, colleagues, and online connections, I get the feeling that the person on the other side of the conversation is normal (by my definition). They tend to have real families, and those families tend to have what for me is a familiar amount of drama and conflict. I have never met an analog for Honey Boo Boo, and have had blessedly few encounters with anyone who might appear on a shoreline in Jersey. The entertainment enjoyed by a culture, in theory, is a reflection of that culture, but I can’t see any evidence that the cornucopia of production houses working to fill endless cable channels with content are reflecting anything real.
I thought I was fairly savvy about most items of a political or economic bent; I read a great deal about the topics from a wide array of sources, and I try to keep up with the math. But I just can’t fathom what’s going on right now that has so many people in such a snit. For the better part of five years, I have read op/eds, watched the Sunday sit-arounds, and listened to the nearly nightly ablutions of the Very Serious People, all centered on the the absolute screaming necessity of:
Getting this spending under control, and practicing a little fiscal discipline!!
Now I know that Republicans, for three consecutive sessions of Congress (they controlled the House, Senate, and White House during that time), spent money like the proverbial profligate sailors…that much is clear. Republicans diverged from Democrats under Obama (who saw tax revenues fall due to job losses, and automatic spending raise as the newly jobless put their kids on Medicaid, and registered for unemployment and food stamps.) For the years between 2000 and 2007, conservatives intentionally poured money into their favorite pet defense programs, and intentionally lowered revenues in two giveaways called, collectively, the “Bush Tax Cuts”, giveaways that largely benefited Americans in the upper third of income earners.
Thinking a dozen moves ahead in a game of chess, the combination in boxing, the bets one makes early in a session of Texas Hold’em; the practice of anticipating various possible futures and acting accordingly is the linchpin of strategy.
And its practice in our nation seems to be, sadly, on the decline.
The simple act of thinking ahead is something supposedly fundamental; we ask our children to adopt the practice and wring our hands when they don’t. “Why can’t you just consider the consequences of you…not getting that job…not doing your homework…not applying for college…taking those drugs…driving after you drink?” We ask our children to consider many possible futures, even as we learn that most teenagers are not physiologically able to consider future in the same manner as adults.