It’s 2013 on the non-Mayan calendar and the Year of the Snake according to the Chinese Zodiac. There is a man languishing in a 80-square foot cell (still) in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and another man presiding in the 800-square foot Oval Office (again) in Washington, D.C. While one man epitomizes the struggle to maintain one’s conscience above “following orders” and finds himself with more in common with the ethnic minorities in America, the other man represents the capitulation of one’s conscience to the dogma of following the marching orders of his masters and finds himself on the side of the dominant culture’s male bankers and billionaires in America. It is the man in the cell, who had the misfortune of running afoul of the man in the Oval Office, that is on the side of history’s freedom fighters. It was he who recognized that mowing down civilians from an Apache gunship and laughing about it was, perhaps, not the best way to bring democracy to Iraq, or even New Jersey.
It may be a new year but the Captains of Capitalism are still trying to convince us that if we give them more of our money, it will “trickle down” to the sweeping of the streets. As our compromised Congress men and women bring their sacrifices and burnt offerings to the altar of corporate fealty and the POTUS reassumes the throne, it is the American people and citizens throughout the world who think to themselves, “Hmm, this second verse sounds exactly the same as the first.” As Obama prepares to be feted by the likes of Katy Perry, Beyonce and the cast of Glee, the drones are flying fast and furious across Muslim skies and we’re being told by our handlers to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. As Yo Mama Care starts to take effect, the private healthcare industry can barely restrain themselves from gorging themselves at the public trough as they say to themselves, “Why do the textbook companies, publishers and for-profit charter schools get to have all the fun?” They’re thinking of course of the federal education love child known as No Wealthy Child Left Behind which has grown up and now has its driver’s permit so it can Race to the Top of Cash Pile Mountain.
The government dole produces lazy, dependent people is a myth perpetuated by the ruling class’s myth makers. In colonial America, the “settlers” killed off the buffalo herds, the Plains Indians main source of food and resources, and confined them to reservations where they were rationed food and supplies from the federal government. African Americans emerged from slavery and were confined to ghettoes and projects with limited opportunities and resources so the paternal hand of Uncle Sam could again act as their benevolent caretakers. The mark of a true abuser is one who feeds you with one hand while striking you with the other. Entitlement programs are unsustainable is another equally vicious myth to rationalize austerity, which is the deregulation, privatization and massive decrease in social spending that ultimately transfers massive amounts of hard earned public wealth into the hands of private interests. Congress was somehow able to cough up hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars stashed under the Treasury’s mattress to bail out the investment banks, but for families facing foreclosure, job layoffs and rising health costs the money is nowhere to be found. Naomi Klein documented the phasing in of disaster capitalism (also known as the shock doctrine, austerity, or the fiscal cliff) and its convergence with an expanding police state to suppress dissent as crippling economic policies are implemented.
While school district, city and state budgets keep contracting, there is apparently enough money to keep building nuclear weapons. In Tennessee, three peace activists face prison for protesting at a nuclear facility producing enriched uranium and nuclear warheads. This same facility developed the “highly enriched uranium that fueled the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, killing tens of thousands of civilians.” If convicted and given the maximum sentence of 35 years, it would amount to a de facto life sentence for the men and women who are 57, 63 and 82 years old. Yet, the oldest of the activists stated, “I feel blessed to be able to devote my life to exposing the criminality of nuclear weaponry.” This is what courage looks like and this is what our captors fear the most, that the spell cast over us by the corporate media outlets and entertainment industry will be broken and we will begin to see our situation for what it really is…the dawning of the Age of Austerity™ in America. I, too, once identified more with my captors than my fellow captives but I’ve learned if I keep playing the same Lady Gaga verse over and over and expecting Lea Salonga’s silky soprano, I’m just watching the wheels go round and round. Peace to all readers.