We the people are no more. We have failed ourselves and our country. It is your fault and mine. What happens henceforth remains to be seen.
We are desperate to be faster and smarter, skinnier and prettier, funnier and more successful than everyone else. We are desperately trying to find any job or find a better job. We are desperately trying to avoid collectors' phone calls and to fix our over-priced cars and our sub-par credit. We desperately refinance or foreclose on homes we can't afford. We desperately struggle with outrageous medical bills and overseas customer service reps. We desperately escape into other people's lives on TV while we desperately divest ourselves of any responsibility for our well being, or others'. We desperately descend into depression and divorce, drugs and debauchery. We desperately cheat, lie and steal on our taxes and our lovers. We are Americans and we are desperate.
Section I: Don't Shoot the Messenger
I discovered long ago that if the person across from you isn't credible, interesting and approachable, there's no way in hell you will: A) Want to have a conversation with them; B) Listen to a word they say; or C) Seriously even consider their opinion. And we all know what they say about opinions, so why should you listen to mine?
I'm a twice-married white woman raised in a mid-western Catholic household. My Irish-American father is a life-long member of the NRA and a proud Vietnam Veteran. He was also a unionized railroad worker for two and a half decades. My mother is a Hungarian immigrant that came to America (legally) in 1956 at age ten. She learned English quickly and believed that America was the land of opportunity and that voting was a solemn duty. She worked two jobs and put herself through nursing school while my dad was laid off. They both voted for Reagan. They both voted for Obama. My late uncle was a homosexual doctor that died of AIDS and my only brother-in-law is serving life in prison.
I dropped out of college, waited a lot of tables, then drove a truck for about thirteen years. Let me tell you, when you spend that long crisscrossing every corner of the country, you see it all. I have seen astonishing acts of both bravery and cowardice. I've felt shock and awe while viewing mother nature's fury, man's violence and random acts of kindness. Over two million miles of road have exposed me to the best and worst of our citizenry and I've pretty much seen it all and done half of what I've seen.
I have visited jail and been visited in jail; I've bounced checks, over-borrowed and been fired; been in a few fistfights and more than a few catfights. I know what it's like to realize I've screwed up and I know what it's like to try and fix the things I broke (including my heart and my credit score). I traveled alone to China to bring home my only daughter, then quit a great job for the love of a great man who happens to be Hispanic. I plunged back into debt to get more educated to supposedly get a higher paying job. I have student loans but no steady employment. The point is, I'm just like you. We have a lot of things in common and there are probably a lot of things we disagree on; that's ok. Just keep in mind as you read along that I'm not some "Right-wing nut job" or some "Liberal weenie." I respect others' differing points of view and try to see both sides of every debate. I am not trying to change your mind, your politics, your sexual orientation or your religious beliefs (or lack thereof). If that's what you think this manifesto is about then I recommend you tune in to MSNBC or Fox or go buy a book from Bachmann or Barak.
Section II: How did we get to this point?
America and her citizenry are desperate. A lot of us are unemployed and broke. A majority of us (along with our government) are in debt. Most of us have some education, some of us have a lot of education and some of us have none. There is only one underlying cause for the crisis Americans and our country face: RESPONSIBILITY.
If you are reading this it is because you have had, are having or know you will have some serious problems in the future. Maybe money can't buy you love, but if being healthy and financially secure are priorities, it CAN buy you happiness. No one wants to say that of course, but it's the truth. I don't need a yacht or a mansion, I just need a reliable car, a roof over my head and a little money in the bank; we want to be worth more than we owe but 99% of us owe more than we are worth. If you are a "1 percenter" (not to be confused with outlaw bikers) then you can stop here. Through a combination of ingenuity, luck, ambition, education and hard work you aren't like the rest of us. Congratulations on your success; now stop trying to manipulate and dictate the lives of the rest of us.
I'm sure you feel strongly that a majority of your problems are someone else's fault. Take a moment and go look in the mirror. There are always reasons that we make decisions, good or bad, but there are no excuses. The person you are looking at (unless you are continuously under the influence of drugs, alcohol or some fanatical scientist) is solely responsible for the where you are at today. Even a decision to let someone else make a decision is still a decision.
The economy sucks. Unemployment, student loans and credit card rates are up. Home values and job opportunities are down. A lot of people will try and tell you it's not your fault. You really thought you could make $6 and hour, buy a $600,000 home for $100 down and $199 a month for one year and turn around and sell it for half a mil. Everyone was doing it; everyone said it worked. Think back to when you were younger and that cheesy cliche' you always heard about ""if everyone jumps off a bridge will you?" Well, you did. American home-buyers were like a herd of buffalo being chased by the Indians- we all went right over the cliff together.
Maybe you managed to avoid the home-ownership hassle because you bought before the boom AND resisted taking out an equity loan to buy your boat, the new car and vacation in Hawaii. Maybe the only thing you owe on is your child's college education. If you haven't experienced the "joys of home-ownership" then it's probably because you can't afford it. Perhaps you live with your parents or some other unfortunate family member or friend; maybe you are holed up in a cramped studio apartment or you're barely making the rent. I could go on and on about the path you took that brought you here but ultimately we all have become Desperate Americans.
Now let's get back to RESPONSIBILITY. The first step in restoring America's credibility is for its citizens to restore their own. There's a decent chance that you have accepted or applied for unemployment benefits, social security or food stamps. If you feel you are a victim of circumstance, then you should reconsider labeling yourself a victim. At best that invites pity or mild concern; at worse it results in antipathy, derision and scorn. You are what you say you are. Being born to an unwed or illegal mother, being the wrong color or the wrong sexual persuasion, growing up abused or abandoned does not give you an excuse to abdicate you responsibilities as an American. Literally, pick up your pants and your chin.
It's time to stop pointing fingers and agree to disagree. The amount of time, energy and money we continue to waste blaming everyone else is ridiculous; which means we are being ridiculous. The recent debt-ceiling negotiations are a prime example of our continuing lack of irresponsibility. Stop blaming the politicians because we elected them. Or maybe you sat out the elections- another decision BY you to let others make decisions FOR you. If you don't like what your elected officials are doing, you must tell them that they will soon join the ranks of the unemployed.
Here's where this conversation can go south in a hurry: none of us want to compromise, no one wants to admit they are wrong. That's understandable but IRRESPONSIBLE and therefore UNREASONABLE.