Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Where Did the Decade Go?

I didn't want to see the double-ought decade end without any kind of blog entry. I'd rather thought the cool, rainy season would herald a resurgence in posts, but it did not. Medical issues in the family took over in the latter part of November and continue to be a priority.

The transition from corporate controlled Republican to corporate controlled Democrat has been interesting and extremely educational for me. To watch the left grow silent while Obama pulled the covers off of his neocon policies was interesting. Watching the right whine about a market driven health care bill after Bush's socialist Medicare prescription plan was also interesting. Dick Cheney routinely gives "aid and comfort to our enemies" through his constant criticism as well. Ironic.

For those who were paying attention, watching how the parts of corporate interests, media, and government come together to play on political divisions to distract people from a larger agenda has been most educational of all. I've now heard both left and right scream "Fascist!" at various things and, it turns out, they are both right. They are just pointing at the wrong culprits when they point at each other.

At the beginning of this decade, we had an expectation that our transactions and our phone calls and our movements were our "own business." Now, we realize that this is not the case. Sprint gives out our locations without a warrant. All Internet providers log our transactions. Our email is not secure and is catalogued. Our phone communications are monitored, logged, and retained. Our faces are taped, our words recorded, and it is collated and databased for an indefinite period. Our "own business" no longer belongs to us. It is bought, sold, traded, and other people often have better access to what we do than we do ourselves. This transition was bipartisan.

This is the end of a decade where the American Dream finally woke up and realized that sleepy time is over. The Dow is roughly where it was a decade ago. I personally have the same salary I did in 2000 and many people I know took a permanent pay cut last year to feed the bonuses of our current overlords. Our medical bills have meant a pay cut retroactive for years. One out of six people is out of a job (and likely many more who "don't count" in the figures). The oil fields are peaking and the decline will continue unless there is a revolution in cheap oil extraction or another source (that doesn't require cheap oil to extract). We are living the end game of our own irrational exuberance of a limitless future and it has only just begun.

To enjoy this new decade and the challenges it poses, I humbly suggest the following:

1. Be thankful for those near you and reward them with your business, your sense of community, and your time.

2. Limit your desires for the next big thing. Most of us have plenty and many have not utilized things we have bought. Find your riches in what you have and who you are with. Find value in that which you had previously cast aside.

3. Find ways to tread more lightly on this wondrous planet. It is indeed a beautiful place and we've all lived to see natural places disappear in our lifetimes. We waste an awful lot of material and energy. Streamlining our approach may not fix everything, but it will help. Recycle, buy local, waste less. Pretty easy stuff. It won't kill you and it will come in handy if things get tougher.

4. Realize that the ideologue next door has much in common with you. Over and over I find that people of every stripe have roughly the same number of standard group types. Some are invaluable, some are powermongers, some are thrifty, some are useless, and so forth. Politics is now a form of entertainment and manipulation, so please don't let yourself get too caught up in it. I did to my regret (luckily, I have 9/11 as an excuse). Listening and thinking is a more powerful currency than righteous rage or self-assured deafness.

So, with that load of bricks I lay upon you, have a Happy New Year! May you find your way to happy things and find comfort and security in your family and friends. I wish you well!