set to background music: Barber’s Adagio for Strings
“Our nation, so richly endowed with natural resources and with a capable and industrious population, should be able to devise ways and means of insuring to all our able-bodied men and women, a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1937
We don’t ever want to go back to 50’s mentality especially for women! Meh..however looking at the 50’s from another lens– the economic one– the fifties could be seen as the last golden era before the fall. Our country has never been more prosperous nor our infrastructure so incredibly sound– we had the best of everything in the world.
But let’s look at the legacy the 50’s left us– among these legacies, including round the clock work in large places where the pay is terrible, we have a highway system that will crumble and is not flexible to allow us to make the much needed switch from gas and oil fueled vehicles to light rail and public transportation, (trolleys would be better than the trains and buses we currently rely on in urban places and forget about the vast majority of American towns and cities that make it impossible to navigate without a car), a global climate catastrophe predicated on our incessant use of fossil fuels despite the constant warnings, food production that produces disease and ill health and mega farm practices that’s destroying animals, people and land; a broken health-care “system” (it’s hardly a system) that few Americans can afford–I could go on and on believe me but I don’t want to depress me or you!
So, okay, our world has changed– the internet is tantamount to the industrial revolution in its sweeping effect on the entire global civilization, not to mention its facilitation of a global instantaneous economy. I love digital media and access and I rely on it constantly and as poor as I am I cannot live without my iPad, iPhone, iPod, and iMac — essential for my website, communication, writing and research and not to mention my growing outreach into public advocacy both as a speaker, political operative and writer! But what does this all mean for the poor? ( which I am one)..The only thing that sets me apart is that I was born into wealth so I probably have the kind of confidence and entitlement that comes with that, not mention I have an education ( BA and MFA–I know, don’t go off about the MFA’s questionable “usefulness”–it was a 3-year rigorous program and I took more than the required graduate level Literature classes) – SO, I am not your typical working class poor even though I really am working class and poor. I’ve got the ability to rise above my severely limited circumstances–I know the value of healthy eating, exercise, meditation and yoga and I have another advantage–I have a loving and generous daughter who owns her own business and is willing to help her mother stay out of a homeless shelter, have the high tech shit I need, support my work as an artist & advocate and keep me in the high fashion I require to look and feel good! (By the way–my “high fashion” comes from Target, Pay Half, Payless and Thrift shops–I just know how to put it together!) These are NOT SMALL THINGS. An adequate support system is absolutely essential for our well being and most of our WORKING AND HARD WORKING POOR DO NOT HAVE THIS. The selfish top 10% doesn’t give a shit and our cynical lying government doesn’t either. This is a selfish era, my friends, but these kinds of eras breed revolution and I see one a-coming.
If Americans weren’t so paranoid and stupid about the meaning of that dreaded “S” word–Socialism–and what it means for our economy, our culture and social structure, the well-being of our citizens and the possibility of real change and growth for our greater community, we could implement measures into law that would not only change the entire fabric of our everyday lives but permeate the population from multiple perspectives. We could actually design a community lifestyle that benefits all people whether rich or poor, disabled or not, young or old, regardless of race, color, sexual orientation, creed or age–a REAL Democracy not a mirage Democracy. And make no mistake, folks, what we have here is not a Democracy but a mirage. We are living under a subtle but inexorable dictatorship of advertising and consumption. No wonder we’re fat–we consume much more than we produce.
One thing that does give me hope: there are people in this country who have understood history and the mandate we’ve been given by the constitution to overthrow any regime or government that does not honor our basic human rights. And as an elder, it is my fervent hope that my younger constituents will take this to heart and exercise their rights to rebel. Occupy Wall Street failed but not before they succeeded–as paradoxical as that may seem. They put the question to the front of our minds: just exactly what is the cause of the problem here?
Let us ponder that on this November day, marching toward Thanksgiving and Chanukkah 2013.