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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/23/09

Take off those inauguration beer goggles

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Whoa! What a bash, huh? We liberal/progressives have been dry for so long that all that Obama bubbly went straight to our heads. By the time the oath of office was administered I was already a blubbering goner.

Three days later it's all blur. I've completely sobered up and I'm back to normal.

I said, I'm back to “normal.” My inauguration day beer goggles are off and – jeezusholychit! – what's that ugly thing my bed?!

Oh, yeah, it's the same ugly thing that was there before the change of administrations. A closer look reminds me it's the body of our once vibrant economy. Rigamortus has set in and, frankly, it's beginning to stink.

A growing number of people are just starting to figure out that we're on a lifestyle-changing path, a path 95% of us alive today have never imagined, much less been forced to travel.

I only mention all this because I suspect a lot of you out there are clinging, in an unhealthy and unhelpful way, to your inauguration beer goggles. Believe me, leaving those goggles on will not make the troubles go away. It'll just mean you're caught unprepared when it all gets around to you.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not dissing Obama or his ambitious plans for confronting these troubles. I am only saying that, if you take those goggles off,  you too will see that what was there on January 20th is still there, and getting uglier by the minute.

Ironically the only person who seems not to be clinging to his beer goggles is Obama himself. He has repeatedly warned against expectations of any quick fixes.  Good advice.

But if Americans have been conditions to expect anything over the last fifty years it's expecting quick fixes. And, why not? After all, those of us of a certain age have been through all kinds of scares, none of which actually resulted in the kind of epic hardships we've only seen portrayed on the History Channel. You know, like the middle ages plague or the Great Depression or the Holocaust.

In that regard – and it's no small regard – we post WW-II Americans have been unusually lucky. We've had our share of crisis, but they were all resolved before their worst potentialities could be realized. You know, the Cuban Missile Crisis could have resulted in a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia, but it was resolved in a matter of days.

The whole Cold War thing ended with a dull thud, rather than a ban. The Swine flu didn't sweep death across America, nor did the Bird flu. Both those potential pandemics were nipped in the bud. The S&L Crisis of the 1980's was managed before it could spread and bring down the financial sector.

Which is why Americans have become accustomed to treating any crisis de'jur as the latest goofy reality show episode. CNN and MSNBC take the scare-ball and run with it. And we tune in and watch the show, as politicians and military folk and vacuous network anchors fill hours of on-air time chewing on little more than the hard-news equivalent of cotton candy.

Then a day, or a week or a month later, the crisis resolved and we go on with lives that had not changed one iota.

This time it's different.

First, the crisis upon us is worldwide. And it is not just an economic crisis, but our first genuine species-wide crisis. It's going to force major realignment of – well, everything. Like how we power our lives, how we feed ourselves, how we populate, how we build, how we travel and how we create sustainable economies. Distinctions between “capitalism” and “socialism” will disappear, a process already underway. They will disappear because neither offers a solution, neither has, and neither can. What emerges will embody only parts of each that can provide solutions that work and are sustainable.

And those are the two linchpins: stability and sustainability.

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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.

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