Remember those old westerns where some charlatan was selling some elixir to bring long life, cure baldness, make you taller? There would be some plant in the crowd who would claim some great cure, and buy more followed by the sheep who would start throwing money at the charlatan. As long as he was out of town by the time they figured out they were had, he made a good living. But you couldn’t help wondering how the town’s people could be so dumb. Wonder no more as all you have to do is look around you.
Here is some of the snake oil that we have been buying and no I am not making this up:
- We can cut taxes and it doesn’t impact the deficit ignoring the Bush years (Kyle, Boehner, McConnell (Gang of 3))
- Government spending is the problem and we need to cut spending and demand will come back ignoring there is no demand and spending is shrinking (Gang of 3, Tea Party)
- Bank Regulators are there to serve the banks, kind of like they did up until the Banks almost collapsed (Next Republican House Finance Chairman)
- Government regulation is the problem, ignoring the bank crisis, the gulf oil blow out, contaminated Chinese products, etc., etc. (all Republicans and some conservative Democrats)
- Global warming is not real (ignore the melting of the ice cape or the frigid weather we are experiencing because of the shift of the jet stream), and we just need to drill more (all Republicans and conservative Democrats)
- The market place will solve our problems like building our roads, responding to national emergencies, protecting the environment, protecting work health and safety (all Republicans and some conservative Democrats). Should I go on?
- We have the best medical care system in the world (37th in the world and the most expensive) (Boehner and most Republicans)
Okay, you get the point. Promise them miracle cures, take their money and run. We have elected those that are either ignorant, blind to history, or tools of corporations to keep things as they are. So expect things to get worse in 2011 since this new gang of snake oil salesman sell elixir to those who don’t want to face our problems and are looking for those to blame and never looking in the mirror.
But our trip to fantasy land is also a trip in turning back the clock and this is where it really gets scary. Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors as he focused on evil, the mistreatment of the poor, and greed. Well, welcome back to the times of Charles Dickens and debtor’s prisons. The latest has been the Republican talking point that welfare should be supported by private giving. Remember in A Christmas Carol when Scrooge is approach by two gentlemen trying to get Scrooge to donate to help the poor. Scrooge said, “Are there no prisons?” This is just another variation of voting down the Dream Act. This is nothing more than punishing children for the deeds of their parents.
I listened to an interview on NPR where a young man called in to describe his situation, and the situation most Americans are finding themselves in. “I make just enough money to qualify for credit, and I spend my money managing that debt. There is nothing to invest or start a business.” A study just found that those out of work for more that 15 months start new careers at less pay. That is where we are and it is getting worse. The wealthy are getting wealthy, the market is coming back, unemployment grows, and the average American is seeing his future slipping away. Our government is oblivious to this reality and we have put in power those that are selling us snake oil. And you wonder why we keep buying it instead of running the charlatans out of town. Maybe it is just that we can’t face up to the sacrifices we need to make and we will believe anything, even in elixir.
Happy New Year. Maybe this will be the year we quit looking to blame our fellow citizens for their predicament and pull together as a nation to start solving some of our problems. After all, and against all conservative Republican propaganda, we are all in this together. I can only hope.