John Colson: Hit and Run
August 7, 2011
It’s a tentative sound, a continuous hissing, sort of like the noise heard when a rainbow trout takes the fly. With a sudden gulp, a few ripples of displaced water, and an explosive reaction as you tug the line to set the hook – the battle is on.
But this unraveling is not nearly so bucolic in tone or meaning.
It is the unraveling of our national will, our sense of purpose and resolve, as we face the most uncertain circumstances we’ve dealt with in a long time.
It is also the sound of the softening of our national spine, the courage with which we have faced peril and woe in moments of our history.
As the Dow Jones average this week plumbed depths all to familiar in the last couple of years, we once again stand face to face with the plain fact that we have placed our economic fate as a nation in the hands of a bunch of brokers and accountants who are, more than anything else, timid little mice darting here and there to jealously guard their hoard of seeds.
The drop of 500 points on the stock market is not, in and of itself, all that alarming, as the talking heads have hurried to assure us. More than one expert has opined that this is just a little correction, as the mice give in to their fear and start selling off shares of this and that in the hope of finding something more solid and dependable that stocks, bonds and bundled mortgages.
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Stay the course, they are telling us, as we think with dread of our shrinking wages and our disappearing retirement accounts.
Have faith in the U.S. economy, it’s the biggest in the world and so, they insist, it is simply too big to fail.
Haven’t we heard those words before, but in reference to the large financial corporations that brought us the economic collapse of 2008?
Faith? Is that what this is all about? Faith in what, I must ask, and in whom?
Not, I hope, in Rick Perry, the cynical and aggressive governor of the great state of Texas, who is planning to mingle with the extremist variety of the faithful at a monstrous prayer meeting set for Aug. 6 (which will have passed by the time you read this).
The Response, as it is called, ostensibly to provide a time of fasting and prayer, although the exact target of the prayers is not generally discussed in the mainstream press.
But any thinking human knows what’s behind this. It’s a calculated move to attract the political support of the extreme religious right, which obviously is a key part of Perry’s planned run for the U.S. presidency.
Even some religious leaders in Perry’s own state have called on him to forego the event, arguing that is smacks of extremism and exclusivity, not to mention a savage swipe at the principles behind the national laws requiring separation of church and state.
At the same time, the shepherds of our national economy continue to tell us that everything is moving along as it should be, despite the fact that even Wall Street is worrying that we’re about to head into the dreaded “double-dip recession” prompted by worldwide financial chaos.
And what is at the root of this chaos?
Well, many things, to be sure. But one main cause of all this is the fact that the world has followed America’s feudalistic tendency to allow too much wealth to be held by too few people, and by permitting the exceedingly selfish corporate class to make its own rules about how the world’s economy should be run.
As those corporations shuttle factories from one country to the next to take advantage of low wages and a lack of safety regulations and environmental safeguards, and our jobs go with them, this kind of chaos is inevitable. It goes hand in hand with allowing one percent of the nation’s population to own nearly half of the nation’s money.
It just doesn’t work.
And so the swiftly sibilant sound of something unraveling gets louder, more insistent.
If there is such a thing as a global lifeline that could save humanity, the sound we hear is that of the lifeline slipping through our hands while far too many of us stand, mute and cowardly, watching it go.