Last time we looked at the first fundamental flaw in the faith of Free-marketers:
The occupiers of Wall Street, and of other public areas around our nation, are highlighting a doctrinal schism within our national soul.
Not all doctrines are religious.
There are political, and economic doctrines, too—and many of those are accepted on faith, as well.
The doctrine in question is the absolute and unquestioning belief that the only solution to any and every economic problem is the free market—by which the true believers mean a laissez faire market: a market with no government intervention.
In 1949, when I was seven years old, Kathy Fiscus fell down a well in San Marino, California. Stan Chambers was right there in my living room, on our brand-new TV, telling us about the tragedy, with pictures. The response of the community was swift, but Kathy didn't survive the fall and the lack of oxygen. She died at the age of three, small enough to fall through a hole in the world. You remember things like that when you not only hear about them but can see them as well. So the new technology brought tragedy closer to us, and we all shared some of the pain.
Many years ago, when I was first establishing my private educational practice, I signed up for a seminar on running a consulting firm, to see if anything they had to say applied to my new business.
The seminar leader turned out to be a consultant only in name: he used his title of "security consultant" to sell companies on his real business, which was providing outsourced security personnel.
He hired private security cops, then rented them out to the companies he "consulted" for.
So I learned very little about consulting from him.
There is a saying that we all create our own reality every day. I can't help wondering then why we are so obsessed with the reality "shows" we seem to love.
I confess that I have not seen more than a few snips of "people shouting at each other, people falling over, people ruining other people's houses" -- well, I do admit I have watched more than a few snips of people ruining other people's houses. And the quote is from an episode of AS TIME GOES BY, when the characters are trying to find an evening's entertainment.
Last time, I explained why the "Ponzi scheme" line about Social Security that the Republicans have been pushing was nonsense.
At the end of the post, I pointed out that the other Republican line—the idea that Social Security is about to go broke—was equally false.
Which brings me to the graph below:
It takes a little explaining, but bear with me, because it's worth the "Aha!" at the end:
There's been a lot of loose talk among conservatives recently about Social Security.
Social security is simply the way Americans have decided to pitch in together and make sure that our elderly and disabled don't end up starving on the streets.
This isn't surprising, since the people who sponsor the right-wing propaganda machine are generally both wealthy and unscrupulous.
They would very much like to elimate anything that makes the middle class stable enough to feel like fighting them politically.
I've been thinking recently about the national debt—about the deficit, and the way we deal with it as a nation.
I don't know what conservative politicians (a group who have very little in common with the average conservative citizen) were saying in the forties and fifties, but by the time I became politically conscious, they constantly repeated one theme.
The idea was that the average American family had to balance its budget, and so it was reasonable to expect the same from the American government—the government should not be going into debt.
"Normally, " the tall one said, "you would go through my friend's door. But because you are an unusual case, you get the chance to go through my door: the chance for a do-over."
"But what's behind his door?" Thomas asked.
The shorter one frowned.
"We are not at liberty to divulge that information."
"My friend's right about that. The only way to find out what is beyond that door is to go through it. I can't even tell you whether there's anything beyond it at all."
"You mean I could just cease to exist as I stepped through?"
I wrote this on the afternoon of 9/11, still in shock from the morning's events. It expressed my deepest fears about the consequences of those events: fears about the spiritual dangers that confronted the world and my country on that day.
It seems fitting to reprint it now.
Letter to a Terrorist
If there are threads that connect us, we have to understand which of them have the strength to endure. Otherwise, we will not be certain that the fabric of our lives can hold. But how can we test these strings of connection? So many are ephemoral. But those just might be the strongest if tested.
Wisps of conversation, whispers of encouragement, a flower full of scent yet the petals falling -- offerings of comfort, offerings of hope -- these matter. These are real.