“O’er the Land of the Cruel and the Home of the Saved”

All across the nation, rustbelt wasteland cities and rural fly-over counties beg for justice and renewal. From unending industrial abandonment to newly fracked regional residential superfund-sites-in-waiting oozing out of gas-land drill-belts, today’s manna from policy heaven consists of austere and unforgiving catch-22 budgetary recession ironies – we’re going to defund what you need – to save you from what you don’t have that already you can’t afford. This new “American Disconnect” between our recollected sense of historical frontier shared sacrifices and real-time absence of practicing shared rewards exposes the inherent “best and brightest” fallacy of elites providing disinterested, altruistic and enlightened leadership by personal example to a country of payday borrowers, middle class refugees, and incoming immigrants from sea to shining sea.

It’s time to rewrite the final line of our national anthem. In a “star-spangled” banner society overtly dedicated to increasing unequal wealth exponentially, national qualifiers such as “land of the free” and “home of the brave” seem like oxymoronic luxuries priced out of reach for the vast majority of “repurposed” Americans bargain hunting in their neighbors’ yard sales for any logical metaphor to explain the past decade’s economic headwinds that capsized their lives. Stranded by the financial sector’s devastating recession in 2008 that millions of ordinary people have not been able to endure, traditional values no longer correlate to modern valuations and local labor is no longer mobile being tied to underwater home mortgages that cripple the capacity of those who would emigrate across state borders to try and find work. While trillions of dollars in working class assets have reversed from equity to debt for no honest pure market reason, arbitrarily flipped like random pancakes on the griddle at the local breakfast stand, the “no country for poor people” we inhabit debates more ingenious ways to balance the national debt on the backs of those most unfortunate through austerity policies that compel its victims to pay and pay for being victimized.

Deepening economic chasms in our society benefitting so few at the expense of so many give birth to social media pop-ups depicting increasingly “normal” moral distortions on the screens of our linked-in lives that destroy any remnants of a shared culture or civic compact. Investing in the dark pools of the nation’s misery index beats the DOW or NASDAQ on any given trading day. There is nothing sadder than watching the lights go out in the eyes of working class Americans who used to believe they stood a fair chance at a square deal. Pulling back the oligarchy curtain, we learn that those who preach austerity for others usually are not part of the paycheck-to-paycheck 99 percent, and those who rail against governments picking winners and losers usually have already won. Messianic job creators who promote unfettered globalization never want to specify whose jobs are where because the majority of the jobs they create are not domestic, are not here, not in our decimated and abused hometowns where no replacements exist for the vicious race to the bottom of off-shored factories that were dismantled by others who didn’t put anything back except in their own pockets.

This “let them eat cake” while defunding the bread lines policy morality practiced and preached by an elitist “moocher class that always has it their way” creates parallel universes marked by geography, race, architecture, healthcare statistics, quality of life, and social mobility, summed up by unequal access to unequal opportunities. Vast swathes of involuntarily composting America reek of boarded up cities and factories where potholes outnumber sidewalks, where suburbs lose their ability to fund their own schools or fiscally self-govern because there’s not enough revenue coming in to administer basic decency, where hastily abandoned construction projects have become part of a permanently disfigured landscape silhouette, and where fallow food deserts starve neighborhoods of community market sustenance after departing industrial and financial titans practiced barrio genocide. Instead of rebuilding America’s inner core by insisting that the better angels of our collective nature put Americans to work first and foremost, our political process spends its capital on voter-purge and re-pre-de-qualification lists in the hope that elites might out-people our masses, but only on Election Day.

Borrowing from Hollywood where life imitates “art,” sensational but now commonplace “reality show” cruelty marks our politics. Who can forget during two Republican Party primary debates in this current campaign cycle when the audience, not the candidates, delivered a thumbs-down verdict first against a hypothetical healthcare victim to the chant of “let him die” and then rejected outright a serving American combat veteran because of admitted sexual preference? For a country where faith-based ideologues brazenly push to challenge the biblical implications of Darwinism at the expense of empirical knowledge and science, survival of the ideologically fittest and richest has become our newest secular religion.

Paul Krugman writes in “The Real Winners” (New York Times, Friday, June 29th) referencing the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark health care ruling, “But what was and is really striking about the anti-reformers is their cruelty. It would be one thing if, at any point, they had offered any hint of an alternative proposal to help Americans with pre-existing conditions, Americans who simply can’t afford expensive individual insurance, Americans who lose coverage along with their jobs.”

Today’s political differences are marked mostly by the chasm between what we proscribe for others to get them to vote our way and how the rich, connected, and famous proscribing class actually lives. A difference so stark that it has become spin-proof in both directions, those who can’t believe their eyes and those who are blind to their own sense of unlimited entitlements.

In the “land of the cruel and the home of the saved,” working class America morphs into an never-ending circular diaspora that ends where it begins because there is no escape for those on the wrong side of outsourcing and off-shoring. Buoyed by the daily blood-sport of our political discourse, one-percent electoral success lies in manipulating values, facts and symbols, to trick targeted populations into voting against their own economic self-interests, and to force Hobbesian choices that don’t have to be made such as a clean and safe working environment doing good things versus a decent family and community sustaining job doing anything that comes along.

Clearly, a bipartisan “take no prisoners” political expediency culture demeans the nation’s currency.  For the market-mongers, when we cheapen the brand, it’s hard to raise the price of the product. What we sing to kick off stadium sports and political rallies can stir the blood with pride or with anger while bringing on the tears of suffering for those who got sucker punched and who are still doubled over. Our ruling class who sold off multiple pieces of America to better global shareholders as opposed to local stakeholders may yet get to answer in the peoples’ online court of endless appeals for their crimes against the American Dream’s basic promise of equal humanity. When “Second Life” becomes a better deal than the life we’re dealt and can carve out for ourselves despite all the self-reliance money can’t buy, and when the odds at Las Vegas casinos where the cabbies ask passengers if they’re ready to “make a donation,” outweigh what still-trusting main street investors can reasonably expect to face on Wall Street’s incestuous insider inferno, staying digital and viral beat going insane.

Today is a day that honors fighting back. We can choose to reaffirm our cultural bonds and common hopes in community collaboration or rail in predatory capitalist temples against the dying of our outsourced and off-shored national light with enabling high priests who preach to the choir but who sold out their congregations for thirty pieces of IPO shares. These “creative destroyers” who,  while counting profits like Midas in a country that disowned the majority of its citizens, that rigged democracy’s deck to dismantle its people’s patrimony piece by piece, claim special communion with the God of our nation’s founders, a God vomiting in disgust because the meek are not inheriting America’s earth. Instead, they’re standing in unemployment lines waiting for survival benefits that wealthy disconnected elites say they don’t deserve.

July 4th, 1776, when we threw off the chains of British tyranny and proclaimed our own declaration of independence, has now come full circle back to the Rousseau-envisioned future where “man is born free yet everywhere he is in chains.”  Today’s David Cameron United Kingdom is practicing “Big Society” politics of austerity bait and switch where funding is cut for basic social services and the needy and unfortunate get to volunteer to “self deport” to make up the civic differences as his country slides in and out and back into recession. Two-hundred and thirty-six years later, the one experience that today’s America has in common with today’s Great Britain is that on both sides of the Atlantic, the “too big not to fail” bankers continue to steal us blind and none of them are yet in chains.


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