09:47:11 pm on
Thursday 14 Nov 2019

No One Cares Anymore
AJ Robinson

I’d like you to partake in a little experiment. Okay, take this list of letters: Z, R, N, F and A, and try to create a word, in any word in any language. Go on, take a couple minutes, I’ll wait and then continue my tale.

• Do you have at least one word?

I saw Franz at once. Contestants, on the Amazing Race, received these letters, as a challenge. They had to assemble the letters into the name Franz. It was part of a puzzle based on the works of Franz Kafka.

I’m familiar with Kafka. I got it immediately. As for the contestants, well, not so much.

The vast majority, of contestants, had no idea of Kafka. Now, given the state of our education system here in the United States, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. We don’t teach such thinkers anymore.

What disappointed me about these people was that they were almost unable to use simple common sense and logic to come up with the name on their own. One team gave up and took a four-hour penalty. How are people that dumb?

Really, you can’t see that Fran plus Z gives you something that kind of sounds like Frank. You can’t see it might work, considering you’re in a foreign country. Again, I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised given, again, the state of education in the USA.

We see this happening more and more in America and, sad to say, I truly think it’s a sign of our decline as a nation. What’s even sadder is that I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Let’s look at some examples of stupidity in America.

Back in the 1980s, Reagan touted Trickle-down Economics; the idea of giving massive tax breaks to the rich and all would be fine because the rich will spend the extra money they receive from a tax cut. What was the result?

The federal deficit went from one trillion to two, during the eight years of the Reagan presidency. The rich got richer and everybody else grew poorer. Most of the wealthy can spend all they need to spend to live, well, extra money they save; among the poorer, to live they must spend every cent and savings are sparse.

This is no big secret. We all know how tax cuts work, those that don’t need more money get more money; those that do, don’t. To this day, politicians and pundits continue to push for more trickle-down tax cuts and no one calls them on it.

Granted, politicians have an incentive. They make money and keep their jobs by catering to the wealthy. What’s everybody else’s excuse?

Politicians have been pushing this swindle for forty years. Folks, has any money trickled down to you? Why do you still believe it will?

Immigrants are coming to steal your jobs. How many times have we heard that one? Manufacturing job went offshore because corporations moved factories to another country, where product costs were lower; you know that. Those immigrants, especially the ones fleeing death in Central America, are coming here to pick crops, clean houses and mow lawns, jobs Americans won’t do or will do, resentfully.

If immigrants were highly skilled and trained, they’d have a job in a factory in Mexico or some other country. I realize, that for some Americans racism and xenophobia play into this hatred of immigrants, but we’ve been hearing these lies about immigrants for decades. Do the rest of you really still buy all of it?

Socialised medicine is another red herring. We’ve been fighting this one for decades, too. Dear old Ronny Reagan even made a record to warn us of the dangers of socialised medicine back when Medicare was a fledging piece of legislation. Thankfully, his record was not multi-platinum.

The myth of socialised medicine truly hurts. Consider the simple fact that every other industrialized nation in the world, as well as some that aren’t, have socialised or national healthcare; have had it for decades and their populations are happier, healthier, enjoy much longer lives and their medical system costs less. During the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics of 2012, the UK, literally, had a dance routine celebrating its national healthcare system. How do Americans not get this?

• Cutting the minimum wage is good business.

The minimum wage controversy is an enigma. How often have we heard calls to abolish it? Michelle Bachmann, a former Congresswoman from Minnesota, argued getting rid of it would lead to full employment.

If companies could pay people $5 and hour instead of $10, Bachmann proclaimed, they’d double their workforce and everything would be great. How many people cheered her words? Okay, let’s set aside the fact that no one can live on $5 an hour, and ask the simple question: why would a company hire more people when it can maintain the same size staff, at a lower wage, and double its profits? Again, why does no American think of this? Why do the media never point this out?

If I remember correctly, Newt Gingrich advocated allowing the hiring of poor children (sic) as school custodians. They’d earn money, the schools would save money and the kids would learn a work ethic. To be honest, that idea is not too far off the mark.

In Japan, schools do that, but involve all the children. They also serve their fellow students lunch and clean up afterwards. It not only provides a good life lesson, but the schools tend to have less graffiti and trash, as the kids realize they’ll just have to clean it later themselves.

Yet, the suggestion of abolishing child labour laws to put poor children to work is not a good idea. I realise we don’t teach the history of the labour movement in schools anymore, but how can anyone think putting little children into the general workforce is a good idea? Put aside the fact that they’ll take work away from adults, there’s the simple fact that they’re unprepared to deal with the physical and emotional stresses of adult life. I worked as a teen, during the summers, and that was okay, but not a regular forty-hour workweek? No, and, again, I have to wonder: how is this not obvious?

When it comes to labour, what of unions? Many companies are openly hostile to unions, but we now have workers that have bought into the lie that they’re better off without one. That is truly a genius bit of Orwellian magic.

How can anyone think there are better off without a union? A union is a group of workers trying to make their lives better. When a company says, “Oh, you don’t need a union, we’re all one big happy family here. We’ll look out for your best interests.” Why would any worker believe that?

• Social programmes help everyone.

Next is an idea that really sticks in my craw because it has the potential to help or hurt so many people in need: welfare programmes. These programmes include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme (SNAP), unemployment insurance, veteran affairs and health, Medicaid and so on. How many times have we heard a politician, such as Mitch McConnell, lament waste, fraud and corruption in these programmes?

How often are these programmes blamed for the federal budget going into the red? Yet, when it comes to the real waste, we know where it lies; we’ve known for years. Those programmes, including the like aid to other countries, PBS and other favourite targets of the right wing, amount to pennies on the dollar when it comes to government spending. We know the two biggies: defense and subsidies to corporations. Why does no one ever point this out?

Another misleading statement involves the Democrats wanting to throw open the borders, flood the country with illegals, crush capitalism, abolish the Second Amendment, destroy America and bite your dog. It is unbelievable that Trump or one of his minions would suggest it. Again, how are Americans dumb enough to believe this garbage?

Does one iota of it make any sense? I guess I’m asking the wrong question, because, for all the little Trumpsters, these are exactly what they already believe. How they can think such things is beyond me, but when I see the tee shirts that say they’d rather be Russian than a Democrat, I know things are bad for our country.

Yes, democrats believe in taking in refugees; they think reining in corporations is a good idea; we should have simple basic gun control and healthcare; they care for the environment and the future. Yet, how that translates to what I wrote above makes zero sense to me. How does national healthcare, helping with college tuition and simple basic social services translate to a socialist takeover of America?

What’s even dumber is the fact that so many people seem to think the Republicans and Trump are the true protectors of everything we hold dear. Please, list for me all of their actions that have actually done any good for us. I could go on, but why bother?

I keep coming back to that challenge on The Amazing Race. The contestants were unable to figure out that they were in a Kafkaesque world. That’s what where Americans are trapped. It’s one of our own making and we truly seem too dumb to fix it.

• Is it any longer worth the effort.

That’s sad and scary. What’s worse is that I think I’ve given up caring. I’m a middle-aged white male and a highly skilled occupation. I also have rich elderly relatives. I’ll do fine. My daughter is out of college and I have no grandchildren. If my fellow Americans are willing to cut their own throats by electing politicians that take away all that protects them, who am I to get in the way of their self-destruction?

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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