Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The New Year

A happy one?  Want to say yes; am inclined to say no.  And I'm a pretty happy guy.

I look around at the shambles of a country -- the very one that hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of people reverently refer to as the Greatest Country in the World (substantial evidence to the contrary) -- and it makes me sad.

I think it's fair to say that American Democracy was the greatest social experiment in the world.  But lately I don't think it's going so well.  One reflects on Ben Franklin's famous answer to the woman asking him what kind of government he and the other participants in the constitutional convention had given us:  "Madam, we have given you a republic, if you can keep it."

Well ... we're doing a lousy job.  A lousy job on an ongoing basis, although the zenith of this lousiness, to my mind, was marked by the squabbling last year (and coming soon to a theater near you) over raising the debt ceiling.  Which, put another way, was a debate on whether the United States of America should welch on its debt.  This is not the way the Greatest Country in the World handles its affairs.  Honestly, how embarrassing.  Aren't we supposed to be the shining city on the hill?  A light to the world?  The fact that we no longer are is a shit sandwich served up mostly at the hands of a band of fundamentalist jihadists calling themselves the conservative far right.  Poor dead Ronnie -- I feel bad for the guy and I never would have thought I'd say that.

But it's too long and boring to drone on about this stuff.  I want to be happy.

Do you know who's happy?  Citizens of northern European socialist democracies.  They pay a bunch in taxes, have vast and largely competent social services, far fewer violent crimes, and statistical study after statistical study show that, after correcting for seasonal affective disorder (honk), they are way happier than Americans.

But the European economies are a mess.
Yes they are.  But there's a lot of that going around.  They'll recover.
They may recover, but if the engine for that recovery is draconian austerity measures I'll bet they were a lot happier five years ago than they will be five years from now.
You're just saying that because you're Greek.

Me?  I'd move to Reykjavik in a flash if only I didn't have to get to New York every couple of weeks to have my paintings annotated.  Plus, my daughters would kill me.

All of which brings us to The Newshour -- Aaron Sorkin's flawed but improving homage to CNN.  Jeff Daniels, who plays news anchor Will McAvoy, has a memorable moment in the first episode of Season One when he lights into a young woman at a college event who asks him why America is the Greatest Country in the World ...

... You—sorority girl—yeah—just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know, and one of them is that there is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies. None of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt, a member of the WORST-period-GENERATION-period-EVER-period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don't know what the fuck you're talking about?! Yosemite?!!!

178th in infant mortality.  Really?  Think about that.  It makes me want to scroll down and look at Neil Armstrong's astronaut suit.  Just to feel the old magic again.

The Remington Arms Company is one of the oldest companies in the country.  Founded in 1816.  Pretty old.  It is owned by a firearms conglomerate called The Freedom Group.  The Freedom Group is, in turn, owned by Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm.  But that's not the point.  The point is that somebody thinks "The Freedom Group" is a good name for a bunch of gun companies.  Can you imagine why they think it's a good idea?

Because they think we're a bunch of fucking idiots.  And there's substantial evidence to support their theory.

Happy New Year from Iceland.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

a righteous rant, G.

5:55 PM  

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