Contemporary penal institutions are not often the penitentiaries themselves, but, are immersed within communities, manifesting in social welfare programming
Drawing a Picture on the Shreds of American Greenbacks
It is solely by risking life that freedom is obtained; . . . the individual who has not staked his or her life may, no doubt, be recognized as a Person; but he or she has not attained the truth of this recognition as an independent self-consciousness.
- Georg Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind (New York, 1967), p. 233
What does it mean to be a wounded warrior? What does it mean to have spent time in the US military, even for a short stint? What does it mean to be on the streets and a veteran to boot? What does it mean to barely survive in a country with no single payer option, one that turns a loved one's old age into a living hell, an economic nightmare; one with for-profit respite, or retirement homes or hospitalization and hospice services that keep the top echelon rolling in the money and the middle managers under the gun to cut more costs and raise more fees . . . where the frontline staff who do the bathing, bedpan cleaning, cooking and certified nursing assistance are under the constant cloud of precarity in the workplace and are "receiving" poor wages that necessitate sometimes two other jobs to barely not make ends meet?
This one paycheck away from the poor house or from calamity is real, and has been for decades, even though it is being recycled in the United States of Amnesia with news of the recent Trump illegal government shutdown where these "government workers" with well-paying jobs (comparatively) with benefits ended up on the thin ice of capitalism: food boxes, Go Fund Me pleas, heating bills paid for by churches, PayDay loans to stop the Repo Man, and in many cases, the loss of a home, or huge penalties for missing mortgage payments and rents.
This formula in Casino-Parasitic-Predatory Capitalism has turned Americans into a society rotting from the inside, out! This system of punishment - economic and legal - has paved the way for a class divide that many tag as the New Gilded Age. This dog-eat-dog mentality has created young people with no hope and no chance of worthy work and a sense of being with the world, with one self, with a community.
The same consumer capitalism, jiggered to work for the One Percent with a retail and service economy which is rigged and ridiculous, destroys the compassion of political leaders who end up with the executioner's axe chopping away food stamps and unemployment benefits and all the other safety nets that were designed to give society a system of social welfare programs to encourage a giving society.
Instead, we have the spectacle of the rich running the culture, sucking the time and money away from youth in this pop culture sh*t storm. We watch the rich media figures interview the rich entertainment figures and watch the millionaires as our representatives in a "democracy" get softball questions from a hollowed out Press. We are like fools peeping around the corner of the king's ball.
And this is progress.
The effects of this decade upon decade of the hollowing out of self-agency and the murdering of decent opportunities that could have been the national plan of living, working, dying in a city or town that is sane, caring, sustainable, family-friendly, youth-driven, elder-respecting and earth-conserving is - from the top down - a majority of Americans who are victims and victimizers . . . who are broken and the breakers . . . who are the haves and haves not . . . who are hardwired not to care about fellow man-woman-child.
Every day for most of us it's a foot race with weights of cement wrapped around our ankles, in a jungle of dangers set upon the American people second by second, and upon the world in much greater rates of damage and swaths of total desecration and destruction. Today's jobs and passions are yesterday's old news. We in the precarious class are like old pugilists, punching at shadows, grappling with ghosts, and wrestling with our own bloodied limbs.
If punch drunk isn't the correct term for the reader, then he or she is trapped in a funhouse of exceptionalism and self-aggrandizement.
But our own self containment and fearsome ethical code would be the armor we all need to not only survive ourselves in this contaminated culture, but also to protect others from the hard-line of the Killer Capitalists and their Kin who daily come up with more and more ways to charge/fine/fee/toll/ fine/levy/tax us to near death and to strangle us close to oxygen-dead puffer fish.
Where Is the Line Drawn for Social Justice?
Being a proletariat in service to people, I have worked within systems tied to education, developmental disabilities, memory care, homelessness, substance abuse and for people living with PTSD, veterans without housing, the chronically ill, youth in foster care, young adults in alternative high schools and on and on. In the predatory state of America, I have had too many times pack away my knowledge of and intuition in what real structural poverty-violence-injustice means to the crumbling society we have in order to make ends meet.