Monday, December 17, 2012

We're all in this together -- except for you

As the economy lurches further into an unacknowledged recession, desperate people are starting to consider superstitious solutions like human sacrifice. If someone is known to be different and occasionally a little too blunt, they become a valid candidate for human sacrifice to appease whatever evil entity stalks the country right now, keeping good, virtuous small business people from prospering.

My employers have started picking fights with their employees, finding reasons that employee inadequacy is diminishing an already minuscule bottom line.  My weird sense of humor and my poor bedside manner are driving customers away. The rest of the blame lies with President Barack Obama.

According to my employers, Wolfeboro, a town owned and operated by staunch Republicans, is in the financial swamp because a Democrat in the White House has ruined the economy. Forget the fact that he's cleaning up after a Republican and inheriting a pile of debris that started with increased political activism by big corporations in the 1970s and got a huge push off the cliff from the policies of Ronald Reagan. More correctly the decline and fall was set in motion by the forces behind Reagan and behind the conservative movement ever since, with increasing virulence.

The fundamentals of our economic prosperity have not been sound since -- since maybe forever. All the famous fortunes of the Gilded Age were based on environmental rape and exploitation of labor. Every boom time has been followed by a bust as the principles that underlay it were revealed to be weak. Every attempt to design something with stronger -- if shorter -- legs has been met with abuse, derision and outright hostility since the 1960s when a large enough segment of the population started to notice that something really ought to be done. Unfortunately, a lot of people awoke to portions of a realization at that time, creating a confusing babble of competing priorities.

We still suffer from a Congress with many members who want to direct blame at the president and his party more than they want to see the situation improve. The worse things stay, the more simple minds will insist that the problem lies with one man. Or they will condemn politicians in general, which may have some merit, but who else are we going to sucker into taking those jobs? Do YOU want to go to Congress and listen to all the bitching, whining and accusations while you try to balance your responsibility to the average voter and your obligation to huge corporate donors? For that matter, do you like the nickel-and-diming emails from political candidates and their PACs as they try to get financial support from the general population instead of corporations and the super wealthy? If I gave $3 to $12 every time they asked for it I would have given a few thousand dollars by now. If I HAD that money it would indicate that the system wasn't so badly broken that I needed to GIVE that money to someone to fix it.

My coworker and I get the feeling that our employers are trying to get us angry enough to quit so they can stop writing our checks and won't be legally obligated to pay us unemployment compensation. How this will help them if business does pick up I have no idea. I haven't looked at the bankruptcy laws yet to see if it helps them in the event that they go under completely. And frankly I believe they're just desperately blurting out whatever pops into their heads because they're terrified of the chasm yawning before us.

Forget the Fiscal Cliff. We've been on a crumbling precipice for years because we sell unpopular items like bicycles and cross-country skis. Drivers want us off the roads. Mountain biking depends on trail access. Cross-country skiing needs lots of natural snow and expensive grooming on plenty of land either in public hands or generously opened by private owners. On public land, other user groups who trample grooming lay claim to the trails to walk their dogs, go snowshoeing or even operate snow machines and ATVs. Just about everyone would be happier if we went away. We've tried to sell the benefits of our healthy, active lifestyle to no avail. People would rather drive through congested streets and pay for parking at a place where they can exercise in a building before driving somewhere else for the next event in their busy schedule -- if they want to exercise at all. They would rather walk on a so-called multi-use path to nowhere than use a bicycle to run errands and go to work. An active population of thieves and vandals conspires with the weather and hostile motorists to keep the bicycle an option only for a tiny, determined minority. Many of those riders are simply financially disadvantaged and will get a car as soon as they can afford it.

How much longer will most people be able to afford it? Not only does a motor vehicle cost thousands of dollars to buy and maintain, the environmental costs and a dwindling fuel supply mean that the replacement motorized alternatives are even more expensive in all phases of operation. Sure, electric vehicles and hybrids use less or no petroleum, but they need some or they need to be recharged from an outside power supply.

Forget logic. We're in panic mode. The conservatives love panic mode. It proves that they were right to be afraid all along. Fear the enemy, who could be anywhere. You! I think you are in league with them! Stone this man!

Excuse me, I have to run now.

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