October 19, 2013
Well, Congress managed to pull yet another last minute, death defying feat of idiocy out of their … hats, in the form of another continuing resolution that kicks the can down the road another three to four months while costing the economy another twenty-six billion dollars. And the world is supposed to breathe a grateful sigh of relief. Back to business as usual.
It’s not over, of course. Congress will spend the next three to four months fighting over a budget deal they hope will bring back growth to our weak economy. Perhaps the Democrats can bring forth a little more revenue, or the Republicans, wring out a little more austerity – neither side realizing or, at least, willing to admit that, in an economy built on cheap, easy to access oil, with no options left but expensive, hard to access oil, business as usual (let alone, growth) is as dead as the poor old dog they keep beating. And the Kamikaze wing of the Republican party is already girding its loins for the next round of hostage taking in February while the world grows increasingly tired of this constant game of brinksmanship from the world’s largest economy.
And in this dying empire, the rich continue to get richer, the poor, poorer and the middle class disappears into the oblivion of stagnant wages and decimated savings. Can’t we “vote them all out”? Yes, but I can’t think of too many things more terrifying than a brand new bunch of know-nothings taking over the reins of government at a time when the mounting costs of global warming and peaking energy resources have left the economies of this and other developed nations circling the drain.
We do have choices. Very few of them involve waiting around for a government that’s too besotted with its own myth of exceptionalism, too bought and paid for by wealthy interests and too filled with members terrified of losing their individual places at the banquet table to act in anything except their various, narrow self-interests.
I don’t know about you, but I find this imperial government increasingly irrelevant to my life, to the life of the nation buried beneath the Empire and to solutions for the problems we’re facing as each other’s families, friends and neighbors.
In that sense, we really are on our own. The Imperial government and the oligarchy that both owns and suckles at it has made it clear these last few days that they will sacrifice the nation to maintain the Empire and its perquisites for a little longer. Whether it’s the common defense that has now turned its baleful eye on we citizens or the general welfare supported by the safety nets we built so carefully over the years, the imperial government will devour it and us in order to maintain itself.
But we are not helpless. Whatever labels we apply to ourselves – political, religious, social or communal – we must talk to each other instead of past each other, to build our common defenses and general welfare. Individually and communally, we can lower our dependence on non-renewable resources, preserve our environment, support our local businesses, strengthen local food chains, build local safety nets, be aware of and look out for each other.
We are not going to defeat an imperial military and its ability to spy on pretty much everything we do. I don’t know that we need to. Although it’s capable of great harm as the Empire continues its collapse, I suspect there are nations that will be glad enough to keep it busy fighting for its life.
We have the challenge of preserving what is best in ourselves and our families, our communities, in the nation as we move into a post-empire state. After this latest round of brinksmanship, I’ve never felt more strongly that help is not on the way, that our current government and financial structures will not act in any meaningful way to save the nation – only the Empire. And, strangely enough, that doesn’t scare me.
What scares me is, that in its death throes, it won’t do enough economic damage to itself to keep it from burning the last dregs of fossil fuel and putting humanity, itself, on a path to extinction.
It’s not over, ‘til it’s over, but if we don’t get busy now – building what we need to survive and, hopefully, thrive – when it’s over, it may be over permanently.