Friday, May 25, 2012

A Box of Dreams

The number of things I believe is often exceeded only by the list of things that piss me off.  High on that list is our nationwide obsession with turning every holiday into some kind of unforgettable consumer shopping experience while distorting its meaning (see earlier rants/posts about Christmas, Easter, and Father’s Day).  Another day to buy things we don’t need, don’t want, and can’t afford…….

It’s Memorial Day weekend.  For most of us that means sand, sun, surf, picnics, and nightmarish traffic on all roads leading to the beach, mountains, or resorts.  War movie marathons on cable TV.  The Top One Thousand Greatest Song lists on the radio.  Maybe a parade or two with high school bands and town officials marching down Main Street, then a little flag waving before piling into the four door big body and hitting the barbeque.  Between bites of hot dogs and hamburgers and smearing Coppertone on skin that hasn’t seen sun since September, you might read a story or two about the meaning behind Memorial Day.  Might even pause for a moment of reflection before popping the cap off another cold, frosty Bud before trying to figure out how to beat the traffic and get home earlier than everybody else.

But before you hit the Parkway, consider the costs of Bush/Cheney’s War of Adventure:
  • Over 4500 US military dead
  • Over 32,000 wounded in action
  • Nearly 1/3 of all troops returning from military service in Iraq or Afghanistan have experienced a traumatic brain injury, OR meet criteria for major depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • Only half of those troops seek treatment.
  • Only half of that number receive care that is minimally adequate.
  • Every 80 minutes another US veteran kills himself.

Memorial Day is more than the start of summer (and if you’re Mitt Romney, more than the opportunity to put on those white pants he's so partial to at weekend photo ops).  It’s a day of remembrance for those who died in military service to our country.  It’s a day to remember that some times the injuries you can’t see are just as deadly as the ones inflicted on the battlefields.  A day to remember that the sacrifices and service of so many have given each of us the freedoms we enjoy today.

And it's a day to say "thanks," even though "thanks" isn't nearly enough.

And while you're at it, check out: Wounded Warrior Project and Restore Warriors.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Won't Get Fooled Again

So JP Morgan Chase takes a $2 Billion hit after playing fast and loose with shareholders’ assets, then misrepresents those same losses to investors, and all Chase Chairman Jamie Dimon can offer is a half-assed “oops?”  For years Dimon has been one of the Wall Street elite who rails against increased Federal regulations like the Volcker Rule, arguing that the same regulations his bank seems to routinely skirt are what’s preventing Wall Street from fueling our country’s economic recovery.  People are struggling to pay their mortgages, feed their families, and make ends meet, and guys like Dimon act like fat kids locked in the candy store overnight.  Now we’re to believe that if elected, Mitt Romney will ride into the White House like some kind of modern day Jedi Knight, cutting away even more of those nasty regulations that have supposedly impeded Wall Street’s role in saving America.  Another big business cowboy waving an American flag and talking patriotism while championing that sacred strategy favored by big money guys – the one that involves companies running up debt, cutting jobs, streamlining operations, and then selling off the assets at obscene profits.  Except that Romney and Bain Capital’s legacy was never about creating jobs, unless it’s the jobs Bain created after Romney left.  Even after Wall Street drove our country into the belly of a recession we hadn’t experienced in 75+ years, guys like Dimon, Romney, and Bloomberg in New York act like Wall Street has all the answers to our problems.  Business as usual.

We’ve been told that things are getting better but we know that’s not true.  After three years in the White House, the growth that President Obama and his economists say is occurring is hard to see.  Not with 8% unemployment and gas prices hovering close to $4.00 gallon across the country.  Or with increased homelessness and poverty all around us.  Not when another Iraq or Afghanistan veteran kills himself every 80 minutes – the same soldiers who were sent to fight a war that has drained our country of money that might have been better put to use re-building our infrastructure.  And not when the income gap between the “have’s” and “have not’s” has widened to epic proportions, and so many more people are closer to the bottom than the top.

We were all raised with the belief that if we worked hard we could each live the “American Dream”, but we know that is not true.  Not now.  Not anymore.

And we’re getting very pissed off.