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Wish List for The New Decade

By       Message Hilton Obenzinger     Permalink
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Meditations in a Time of Delusions and Lies

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With the arrival of 2010 I've decided to collect an incomplete list of wishes for the New Year and the New Decade. Some wishes are major, some minor. All wishes are hapless, unimaginable, silly, fruitless, and unlikely to come true unless people make them happen. No miracles allowed.

Most of the weather maps on TV stop at the Mexican and Canadian borders. Have you noticed how the snowstorms seem to get cut off at the top of Maine or Minnesota? How the rain stops just before crossing to Tijuana? Why does the weather have to be nationalized? Will climate change only affect Michigan and not Ontario? Only affect Arizona and not Sonora? I wish the weather on these maps would slurp over borders. I know this is a pet peeve, even small potatoes, but my planet doesn't have borders.

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No borders, that goes for people, too. Since when is someone "illegal"?

And speaking of climate change, I wish the US would leave Afghanistan and Iraq before the Arctic summer ice cap melts. It'll entirely melt between 2015 and 2030, as some estimate. That's not too soon to end stupid wars, is it? Sooner would be even better.

I wish that the US was a democratic country and the Senate would operate by majority rule. If we had majority rule, the country would already have universal health care, real financial regulations to keep greedy bastards from ruining the economy for the rest of us, and much, much more. I apologize for being dense, but I thought democracy meant majority rule. Why does anything important require 60 votes in the Senate? Why does the country need to be blackmailed by bone-heads? And while we're at it, majority rule for presidential elections would be good. And majority rule for the California legislature would do a lot to prevent the most populous state from becoming the biggest basket case in the country.

I wish the demagogues dunking the tea-baggers would drown in their own tea.

I wish the US would treat Israel like any other country and therefore condemn it for massive violations of international law, human rights abuses and not-so-secret nuclear weapons, and . . . Alright, none of this seems even close to being possible. But how about this: I wish Israel would stop building any new settlements in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. President Obama asked for this. Is this really too much to ask?

I wish the huge numbers of people facing foreclosure would just stay in their homes, simply stay put. Would no evictions be the end of civilization? If so, let's end civilization quickly.

While I'm ending civilization, I might as well wish for Wall Street, I mean the actual Wall Street, to be filled with people around the clock, all kinds of people. Clog the arteries of lower Manhattan, snarl up the whole panoply of gambling in the big casino of finance, and turn the Clog-In into one giant party until ordinary people control the banks and not the other way around.

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Check this out for wishful thinking: I wish the military would be cut in half, that the money saved would be used to rebuild our educational system and all of our bridges and our innercities, pay for renewable energy development, sustainable agriculture all the good things everyone says they want. Hey, I'm being reasonable: I didn't wish for the military to simply evaporate, just step-by-step dissipate. Besides, we still need a disciplined force to rescue people from all the cataclysmic Katrinas of climate change.

I wish the West would get fair with the East, North with South, and suicide bombers would decide to become midwives instead.

I wish TV commercials would not tell me to "Ask your doctor." I wish I would not need to know that if I have an erection that lasts for more than four hours or side effects which may include strange dreams (I already have strange dreams) it may mean sudden death. I already know that one side-effect is gargantuan profits for pharmaceutical companies. I wish we could go back to the good old days when it was improper and illegal and tacky to advertise medicine like other consumer goods. I wish everyone would "Ask your doctor" to tell the drug companies to shut up.

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Hilton Obenzinger is the author of "American Palestine: Melville, Twain and the Holy Land Mania" (Princeton), among many other books of criticism, poetry and fiction, and the recipient of the American Book Award. His most recent book is the (more...)

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