11 April 2011

it always gets better

so, i saw kay bailey hutchinson's, "the debt ceiling is going to be armageddon," comment today, and i immediately felt a wee wretch. and then i looked at the greater dialogue going on today (and really every day), and found that i'm more bothered than usual that the republican party (in particularly) insists on motivating americans with fear. even hutchinson's comment (i'm thinking that you might be thinking it's a stretch to use that example), using the word armageddon -in a country as obsessed with jesus as this one is - will take the loony rhetoric up a notch. it's kind of ironic that the ones who define "american exceptionalism" exclusive of humility, that america can do no wrong, that the ends are always worth the means, even if that means we compromise our values, are the same ones always running from doomsday.

despite the very fact that america's existence at all is a fucking miracle.

go back and read about the revolutionary war. the first government had no money to pay troops, thousands of troops had no shoes, thousands threw down their arms, many others carried sticks and stones because even if there were enough weapons, there was just as often no ammunition for it. america was getting its ass kicked by the redcoats, who were helped every step of the way by traitorous "loyalists" (funny how "traitor" is in the eyes of the beholder). the tide of the war turned in america's favor one christmas night the weather changed direction, by the sleight hand of fate. do you have any idea how impossible that is, how unbelievable, how miraculous that america won that war? and once the war did end, and a government put into place (and make no mistake, that government was as viciously divided as the one today), america still had no money. until the french started dumping bucketloads of cash into our early coffers. and put this country so deeply into debt, there was doubt america could survive. but we got it together and paid that shit off in full.

and that wasn't the only time america's been in a really tough spot. look back even nearer in time, to the great depression. banks failed, markets crashed, and a drought came along just in time to add insult to injury by ruining thousands of much-needed staples. america was on the brink of complete catastrophe. unemployment was at 25%.

think about how much 9% unemployment hurts, and think about 25% of working americans unable to find a job. think about what that loss of revenue (for individuals and a government dependent upon the employed) did for the economy. no one had money to spend, people were reluctant to borrow, and inflation soared. and for an economy reliant upon consumption, the devastating effects were felt in every sector, much like they are in our consumption driven economy today.

thing is, if consumers aren't spending, the government has to spend. otherwise the economy completely collapses, and we all go back to the bread and cheese lines of the depression, the rations in gas, medicine, and utilities, and the hoovervilles for america's homeless. when FDR was elected president, he started spending a shit-ton of money america didn't have, putting us deeper and deeper into debt as he put millions of americans back to work building bridges, dams, and eventually war chest tools.

yep, another miracle to save america. world war ii demanded an industry, and damn quick, no other country could've pulled off. on the brink of catastrophic collapse, a war on the other side of the world saved this country's economy. and saved it so good, america was able to help rebuild europe from the ashes of its great war. i mean, we paid for the world to pick itself up, dust itself off, and get back to kicking ass. because that's what we do.

because we're america. we're dreamers. that's who we are to the world (the ones whose judgments aren't tainted by hatred and the need to blame someone else) and to history. we make big things happen because we believe we can. and yeah, things are tough right now. really, really tough. and it's scary looking forward to a black hole of debt in our future, and all the obstacles standing in the way of fixing anything (healthcare, ahem). but it's been way worse for america. way worse than it is today.

today, we've been saved. it's been the good decision made by our president to spend money we don't have that's kept unemployment below 25%, that's kept unemployment insurance paying out, that's kept us from having to build obamavilles and ration our commodities. obama has even kept taxes low, and made them even lower for some, with money america doesn't have. because he's a believer, he sees our future, and he's investing there to keep america from falling off a precipice that lands directly into an even greater depression, and trying to invest smartly (education, building a green economy, and reinvesting in science and infrastructure) by looking forward to the world of tomorrow.

i get it. the president gets it. we all get it. we are in a deep-as-shit hole right now with our debt. but it doesn't change the fact that america has to spend its way out of this very fragile economy, even if it means taking on more debt. thing is, i believe america's next miracle is waiting around the next bend. i just hope our president is able to lead both sides of our government and its constituents to find some small reason to believe too...


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