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Baby Boom Gone Bust

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 Being a baby boomer raised in post World War Two America we were raised with certain fixed realities. And of course moving into a new century it has become necessary that we must take stock of changes and accept adjustments. Growing up in the fifties and sixties the cold war was the preeminent issue with it’s adjutant threat of nuclear war, which made us the first human generation of children that lived with the possibility that every day on earth could be our society’s last.

 

Like George Orwell’s 1984 we lived with clear messages from big brother even if our big brother was kindly benevolent old Uncle Sam. Capitalism Good! Communism Bad! Socialism Bad! Only not as bad, but not as good as capitalism. If you asked questions about socialism in Great Britain or Scandinavia it was explained that it was indeed socialism only that it was different but it was inferior to our unbridled capitalism.

 

Take a look around they would explain at our ever expanding economy our rising wages our ever increasing standard of living and then look at those poor miserable wretches in the Soviet block and it was true. But communism was the ultimate wedge to the capitalist system the Capitalist had to always bear in mind that if conditions became so poor to the average person a communist movement could sprout up that could count on support from Moscow. The outright hysteria over Cuba puts a fine point on that. Not the missiles in Cuba but the communism in Cuba that terrified American corporate elites.  For communism in Cuba could only succeed where capitalism fails.

 

We live in our world with fantasies of a democratic free press while the numbers of jobs for writers decline and the supply of writers remain constant or expanding. If you are considering employment it’s best to consider what sort of reporting the boss wants to see. You’ll gain little traction with investigative reporting on the newspapers advertisers or politicians that have it in their power to do them harm.  I once heard a local mayor upset over his portrayal by a local TV station comment “Maybe next time we hold a press conference we’ll just forget to call them.”

 

The growth of the Internet has acted as a buffer in some ways but at the same time it has diluted the audience. When a website becomes popular they immediately erect rules and barriers to what can be posted. I in advertently posted on the Daily Kos an article about the lunacy of government’s statements about air traffic controllers after 9-11. I was lambasted not by the truth or lack of truth in my post but that I had violated the rules of the site by speaking about 9-11. No one argued my points only that I had violated the rules and no meeting of right wing evangelicals could have been any more severe.

 

The Nazis had their brown shirted thugs at the doors of their meetings too if you heckled or questioned the Fuehrer you would be removed. The Internet has given rise to the E thug if you question status quo left or right the E thugs will come after you. I was on a website and the issue was illegal immigration when I pointed out that the issue was more about illegal than immigration the E thugs were set upon me. I was called a troll and a plant a racist a bigot so apparently you’re only free to think inside the box. If your views are not black or white or liberal or conservative keep them to yourself.

 

Never mind that my beliefs mirrored those of Jack Kennedy and Martin Luther King or Hubert Humphrey because the boundaries are all changed now. Jimmy Carter was a conservative Democrat and Gerald Ford was a liberal Republican; Bill Clinton was a centrist yet Richard Nixon would have vetoed Clinton’s welfare reform bill as too punitive. The actual Liberals in Congress can be counted on one hand or as the press refers to them as extremists or fringe. Yet they advocate nothing that wasn’t considered mainstream only twenty years before.

 

Why is that? Could it be that when Communism fell in Eastern Europe the need to support Capitalism fell in North America? Wages, and standards of living have all eroded from that high water mark Unionism is on the decline and has been under constant attack by right wing administrations, labor statistics subverted to the point where hamburger stands are now considered manufacturing outlets. The Chinese government recently announced they supported the workers in forming labor unions to which the American Association of Manufacturers announced well we don’t! Ask yourself, what’s wrong with this picture, the communist support unionism and Americans don’t.

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If you’re my age you remember the plethora of Science Fiction pictures where heartless soulless robots would take over the world and made slaves out of humanity. From the cheesy to the high budget 2001 A Space Odyssey the fear of mankind losing its soul to technology was an ever-present concern. Well guess what? It has, the robots name is the global corporation and it is every bit as heartless and soulless as any villain Hollywood could possibly dream up Darth Vader has nothing on these boys, a corporation is a legal entity with all the rights of a living breathing person but unlike a person it will never die. The good or evil of a person will follow them to the grave and the fear of judgment may influence their behavior on earth.

 

But the corporation fears not, a Frankenstein monster loosed on mankind; it has no feelings or emotions. It cares not about the here after for it is eternal, it has no sense of right or wrong of good or evil it has only one motivation, profit. All human beings have a desire to be accepted and thought well of even if it is a blatantly untrue. We are ego driven while the corporation is only profit driven; it cares how it is viewed only in regards to that which might affect its profits. Nike shoes received bad publicity about operating sweatshops in Central Asia so how did they respond? By moving their operations to Central America. Did the bad publicity change their minds or their business model or just their address?

 

You say the gold miners are getting a little uppity in the Congo, well then kill a few of them. The oil workers in Nigeria want higher wages? Call in the Army let them work at gunpoint a few days that will straighten them out. You say the workers at Coca Cola in Panama want to unionize then have the police shoot the union leader in front of the workers that will get them back into line. Want something a little closer to home? The miners that died in West Virginia didn’t have a second phone line or oxygen safe rooms, miners in Europe wouldn’t enter a mine without either of those in place.

 

The corporations frame the issues “We must stay competitive” is their mantra it’s hard to go a day without hearing it. But no one questions the muti million dollar salary package for the CEO no one says that’s three or four times a European CEO’s salary. Everyone’s green in corporate America, the oil companies the chemical industry will all tout their efforts for green policies yet avidly support political candidates that will loosen environmental standards. Occidental Petroleum was using open pit wastewater disposal in Columbia outlawed in the US for almost a hundred years and yet they continued in Columbia until ordered by the government to stop. Just dumping oil saturated water into a pit to leach into the ground water. The soulless corporate robot thinks only of profit what ever it takes to accomplish its goal. It’s is far better to spend a hundred thousand dollars on a public relations campaign than two hundred thousand to actually do the right thing. It’s cheaper to buy judges and congressman than to follow the law.

 

An acquaintance of mine had a family place were his ancestors had lived for over a hundred years in south Alabama. A Chemical plant that made ammonium nitrate fertilizer moved in up the road and after a few months of operation the families well water was contaminated with ammonia. They explained to plant officials about their well water and were told politely to buzz off. They hired an attorney and had soil tests done that showed the closer you got to the plant’s boundary the higher the levels of Ammonia in the soil.

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When their day in court finally arrived the judge looked at the test results and without asking the corporation’s attorney one question asked, “Can you prove that the Ammonia is coming from their tank?” and dismissed the case. 007 license to kill, what’s the difference gun or chemical? To place the standard that high is to say buzz off. The state courts of Mississippi and Louisiana will be backed up for the next twenty-five years over insurance companies refusal to fairly pay claims from Katrina. Meanwhile the homeless mortgage holder continues to make his monthly payment dreaming of that day seventeen years or so in the future when he finally gets his day in court.

 

In our futuristic literature describing imagined apocalyptic societies controlled by soulless robots or faceless fascist societies drug use had been overlooked or even encouraged by the society as a way of making the subjects easier to manipulate. But that was a misconception; here it becomes obvious that this is a right wing reactionary coup. The war on drugs was but the opening salvo in the war on our freedom its true cause is not to diminish the amount of drugs on the street but to expand the numbers and powers of the police. The power to wiretap and to confiscate assets before conviction leaves the suspect naked before the law.

 

In the sixties General Richard Seccord ran a covert operation in Vietnam with intelligence agencies to help move Thai and Laotian heroin to market and by the late sixties American cities were awash with cheap Asian heroin and Richard Nixon declares a war on drugs. In the eighties the Reagan administrations foreign policy emphasis was on Central America and what drug floods American streets? And whose name was connected with it? Why cocaine and Richard Seccord of course, tougher penalties longer jail terms and more prisons.

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I was born and raised in Chicago in a liberal Democratic home my Grandfather was a labor union organizer my Father a Democratic district committeeman my Mother was an election judge. My earliest memories were of passing out Kennedy yard signs from (more...)
 

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