Thursday, June 23, 2011

You have nothing, Whitney? I'm jealous

I didn't want to blog about this, but it's the main thing on my mind right now.

One day, when I'm famous, slathered in awesome sauce and have amassed a fortune the likes of which the world has never seen ... or, for that matter, when I find myself as financially fortunate as I was on this infamous day, I will be able to look back on this week and feel better. The "at least I'm not that broke" period.

Don't get me wrong; I have a roof over my head and a promising job lead, as well as friends and family offering support in the meantime. I'm not complaining. And I'll be out of the hole in a day or two.

I'm just a person not used to living in debt. As the bumper sticker says, I'm weird. It's nice to have money for the essentials you need, when you need them.

I feel terrible for the people who always have to live this way. Aren't we as a nation better than this?

It ties into something I was thinking about yesterday — as times remain tough and sometimes get worse, more and more people it seems are quantifying everything in dollars and cents. I've been nearly laughed out of debates recently for suggesting that maybe saving a few dollars isn't worth losing our humanity. 

I'm not talking about your garden-variety libertarian or tea-party stances, either; it's nearly everyone I talk to, regardless of inclination, who are convinced that desperate times call for desperate measures. And those desperate measures have no room for human decency. They make me feel like an ass for bringing up any argument that isn't 100 percent economic. This troubles me, because it tells me that if conditions are bad enough, people become more hard-line in their views. And I can see why politicians who want to deny help via social programs, infrastructure spending, etc., would want this trend to continue. It's a lot easier to argue against government spending when people feel like they can't spare another cent. As a result, people see their benefits cut; even private companies claim bottom-line issues when laying off workers while bosses continue to collect obscene bonuses. The poverty and dependence that results continues the vicious cycle.

I don't think it will even begin to end until people stop buying the line that these austerity measures are for their own good. Because they're not. Our national problem isn't debt — it's greed, compounded by the have-nots racing to the bottom over who deserves what scraps are left. And personally, I'm tired of Social Darwinism becoming the go-to philosophy for dealing with this. 

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm tired of people's fears, troubles and hunger driving their views into extreme territory. The U.S. right now is like a starving child in school who's making failing grades. The problem is that the child needs food, but all anyone wants to do is paddle him until he makes an A. It's almost paradoxical, but we have to get better before we can think about how we can get better. And the way to do that is to ensure basic needs are met. That's our primary obstacle. And one so often drowned out in the all-pocketbook debate.

The good thing is that we as a nation are resilient. Fortunes can change on a dime. Can someone spare one for us?

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