Sunday, March 22, 2009

A rant -- sorry, few will hear it.

Okay, I just have to say something. And as pretty much no one reads this, so oh well.

But I am fucking sick and tired of hearing Americans complain about how "their tax dollars" are being used to "bail out rich people that caused the collapse" and how they want to tar and feather corporate executives. And Frank Rich's article about how this outrage over AIG bonuses and lack of transparency in the distribution of stimulus dollars is Obama's "Katrina moment," just made my feelings boil over.

I'm as opposed to the horrible, secretive, inefficient corporate culture as anyone. I too think our economic policies of the last couple decades have been worse than useless (and, I'm sorry to say this, I know how it makes me sound, but I've BEEN opposed to those policies long before most of the Americans who are now bitching have been).

I for sure felt a sense of vindication Alan Greenspan admitted his was "fundamentally mistaken" about his assumption that financial markets would regulate themselves; I rejoiced that his horrible, Ayn Randian policies have been proven to be, well, wrong. Markets don't fucking regulate themselves. Everyone pursuing their own self interest DOESN'T result in a solution that is optimal (and don't quote game theory at me -- think about it for five seconds and get back to me).

But here's the thing, Americans: where is your sense of responsibility in all this mess? Why pick NOW to get all outraged and say it's "not you," and your "tax dollars" shouldn't be used for all this bailing out of corporations and rich executives and that you demand transparency in government and economics and that making money isn't a good thing in and of itself and that people should think of the common good?

Wake up call: who voted for politicians that supported this culture of executive and corporate secrecy and pursuit of money and self interest and deregulation? YOU DID. Who supported Bush and Regan and politicians that supported deregulation and pursuit of free enterprise and self-interest at all costs? YOU DID. Who, for that matter, bought Ayn Rand's fucking books? YOU DID. Are we are a republic or aren't we? IF YOU VOTED FOR THE PEOPLE THAT PROMOTED THE CURRENT POLICIES THAT ARE FUCKING US than hey, guess what? This IS your fault, not the fault of people WHO HAVE ONLY BEEN IN CHARGE FOR A MATTER OF FUCKING MONTHS.

Stop fucking evading responsibility. Stop blaming everything on "greedy executives" and "greedy politicians" -- guess what? YOU ARE PART OF THE CULTURE THAT CREATED THIS. You voted for people who told you that businesses should be left alone to do their thing; you voted for people who told you to slash organizations that helped the common good; you shopped at Wal-mart and bought bad stocks and said greed was good and voted for Regan and the Bushes. So you basically said that these kind of policies were fine by you.

And now, you're conforming to every single horrible stereotype of Americans and avoiding subtly and self-sacrifice and thoughtful consideration in favor of blind outrage that ignores the complex REALITY of the situation in favor of the simple "we're right and a select group of EVIL PEOPLE are wrong" rhetoric that has so comprised America in the eyes of the world. Stop blaming everything on someone else. If we're all in this together -- if we truly have democratic principles -- that we will stick by the people we elected. We will acknowledge our mistakes. We will contribute to the COMMON good and stop fucking bitching about it.

The most revealing part of Frank Rich's article is this:

Since Americans get the big picture of this inequitable system, that grotesque reality dwarfs any fine print. That’s why it doesn’t matter that the disputed bonuses at A.I.G. amount to less than one-tenth of one percent of its bailout. Or that CNBC — with 300,000 viewers on a typical day by Nielsen’s measure — is a relatively minor player in the crash. Or that Edward Liddy had nothing to do with A.I.G.’s collapse, or that John Thain, of the celebrated trash can, arrived after, not before, others wrecked Merrill Lynch.

These prominent players are just the handiest camera-ready triggers for the larger rage. Passions are now so hot that even Bernie Madoff’s crimes began to pale as we turned our attention to A.I.G.’s misdeeds, just as A.I.G. will fade when the next malefactor surfaces.

That's exactly it, right? We're ignoring the fine print. We're blaming people in charge now, rather than acknowledging, "hey we voted for and encouraged all those people that fucked us." We're demanding INSTANT RESULTS rather than than giving those now in charge any time at all to change and rectify the policies of the last TWO TO THREE DECADES IF NOT LONGER.

At the end of his article, Frank Rich acknowledges, briefly, that perhaps ignoring the big picture in favor of demonizing Obama because it's convenient might be a bad thing:

As the nation’s anger rose last week, the president took responsibility for what’s happening on his watch — more than he needed to, given the disaster he inherited. But in the credit mess, action must match words. To fall short would be to deliver us into the catastrophic hands of a Republican opposition whose only known economic program is to reject job-creating stimulus spending and root for Obama and, by extension, the country to fail. With all due deference to Ponzi schemers from Madoff to A.I.G., this would be the biggest outrage of them all.
Yeah, fucking exactly, Frank Rich. Thanks for putting that as an afterthought to your article about "populist rage." Blaming Obama and those who are in charge is shortsighted. It delivers us into the hands of THE VERY PEOPLE WHO GOT US INTO THIS MESS WHO HAVE NO REAL PLAN TO GET US OUT OTHER THAN SITTING THERE AND CRITIQUING OBAMA. That is a scam, a scheme, a manipulation.

So stop feeding the "populist rage." Start acknowledging that a manipulation of "populist rage," got us into huge messes in the first place. Passions are easy to stir; complex, long-term solutions are much more difficult, and involve rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. If you critique Obama for even DEALING with people who are part of the problem, then you resign him to doing nothing: sitting in the Oval Office and feeling smugly superior. That's not the same as Mike Brown and Katrina. Obama has been in office for months, not years. And what he's dealing with is the result of YEARS of policies that the American people have come out and said they supported, time and again.

So let's be American for once. Let's be self-sufficient and innovative and responsible unto ourselves. Let's not be whiney and intolerant and act like mysterious governmental and corporate figures are responsible for our problems. Okay?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Breakdown

Not a clever blog title.

I'm sitting in "It's A Grind" coffeeshop with my BFFHSAB (Best Friend From High School and Beyond). The coffeeshop always makes me think of the old, brilliant "Weeds" credits -- and I'm currently drinking an iced coffee, which makes me feel like Mary-Louise Parker in the brilliant first season. Which goes to show you how mediated by television my life experience is. (It might work the other way, though: I do think that the first three seasons of "Weeds" do capture some aspects of life in a Western gated-community-suburban-type place fairly accurately, even if it does get increasingly over-the-top. I love that moment in season 1 when MLP admits sometimes racial stereotypes are true: "I like gin. I'm not fond of hugs." Like her character I like iced coffee, hybrid cars, my own bathroom, and gin -- and I'm not fond of hugs).

Before I typed all that, I should say that I'm back in my Western Suburban hometown for Spring Break. The idea was to get a lot of work done on my thesis, write a draft of my thesis essay, catch up on a bunch of miscellaneous projects, do some job/grant application parents are actually out of town, meaning that Spring Break was supposed to be largely a self-designed writer's retreat, a la the summer. After all -- a huge lovely suburban home for me to work in, all on my own-io.

One my thesis advisers emailed me days ago asking how it was going. "Did you finish the last part of your novel? How's all that solitude?" I just wrote her back, saying "Um. It's going okay."

It's not going okay.

I spent two days lying around in my own pee (as the divine Miss M puts it) before realizing that my BFFHSAB is also on spring break and has tons of actual work to do, too. Trying to follow her example, I went with her to a coffee shop at 8 am this morning (suffice it to say, I still wasn't out of bed when she got to my house -- I had to be the Getting Ready Ninja). She's sitting in front of me, industrially doing work, because well...she's smarter and harder working than me.

The sheer amount of work I blithely thought I'd get done in what amounts to five days is started to press down upon me. WTF was I thinking? Why did I waste two whole days?

My lovely BFFHSAB has just lent me headphones (I forgot mine) -- which might help. So I'm going to take a crack at working, gulping my iced coffee all the while.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Whoa, it's a not post

I won't say "Hey, I'm posting again!" because obviously I said that below and obviously it was A LIE.

I have no particular reason to post again, other than that I'm always writing blog posts in my head, so why not write them -- not in my head?

Oh, and occasional vague feelings of guilt for not using the blog as a Self Promotional Tool (though writing that makes me feel like a Self Promotional Tool*)

*I stole that from someone else. Which is even worse.

Here goes:

My old story has been archived online here, on the Whistling Shade Press website.

I'm having a story come out here in the summer (Annalemma magazine). I submitted to them partly because I really like their mission statement. Read it! Also look at the pretty pictures and read the stories, if you like.

I have a book review here. This kinda makes me feel like a rock star. Or the Minnesota book reviewing equivalent of a rock star. Which I guess is like Ethan or Jake?

Oh, my inspiration to post this was to say: why is it that when I choose "shuffle" on my IPod, I just skip every song that isn't already a favorite song I always listen to? This keeps me in the same pattern of just listening to the same songs over and over, which is why I picked shuffle in the first place. But then posting distracted me enough to stop doing that. So I actually discovered some songs on my IPod I'd never listened to before. Um...well done me, I guess?

Although it's funny that I feel that I don't listen to enough songs in my collection, because this is pretty much the reaction of my Music Loving Friends when they see my itunes collection:

Me: (secretly hoping Music Loving Friend will approve of my music collection) Here's my itunes collection!

Friend: This is...all the music you have?

Me: Yeah.

Friend: Oh.

This is because I always whittle my collection down: I never back it up, and so when my computer dies*, I tend to let the songs I don't actively want to replace go by the wayside. I also don't put embarrassing old CDs onto my computer. As a result, it's a slimdowned collection, meant to impress my Music Loving friends (look! only...sort of acceptable music here! No embarrassing 90s bands!). And then they...aren't impressed, because my collection is so small. Because if I really Loved Music, I'd never let attrition whittle my collection down.

*This tends to happen to me a lot, which is matter for another day.


Peace, y'all.