I’m going to digress from my usual insubstantial banter to share an experience I had with a co-worker. Now understand that this person is not just a co-worker but I also consider him as friend so I am not being critical. In fact it’s because of his comments that I got to thinking about how much or how little the world has changed.
My friend is about 30 years younger than I am. He is very political and passionate about this upcoming election. I happened to ask him if he was aware that neither candidate was planning to extend the payroll tax cuts from the Bush-era. That would mean about $20/week more in taxes or $80/mo. out of my paycheck. I suppose I can live with it because the argument is that Social Security needs it but I haven’t seen the economy improve. Everything costs more and keeps going up…except my paycheck. Anyway that simple question had him off and running.
His biggest point was that America is worse off now than ever before. The world hates us, they had the bombing in Libya that killed 4 Americans, the economy is the worse it’s ever been etc.
Well, when I got home the last presidential debate was on almost all of the channels. So I got to thinking…Are we worse off than ever before? My conclusion is no. We’ve had recessions and depressions before. Humans are warlike people. Wars have been going on since the cavemen learned to use clubs. It won’t matter who is president because we don’t have a dictatorship. There are checks and balances. Congress (who I blame for our troubles more than the president) has as much if not more to do with our policies than the president.
But I don’t want to get too long-winded here and I’m not a fan of politics so my opinions are just that…opinions. But music has always been used for protest and social commentary so here are the lyrics from a song from 1958. It was performed by the Kingston Trio.
The Merry Minuet
They’re rioting in Africa, they’re staving in Spain.
There’s hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch.
And I don’t like anybody very much!
But we can be tranquil, and thankful, and proud,
For mans’ been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off, and we will all be blown away.
They’re rioting in Africa, there’s strife in Iran.
What nature doesn’t do to us , will be done by our fellow man.
In 2009 a comedian updated the lyrics by plugging in the names of the countries that were squabbling at that time. Afghanistan showed up then and Iran was still there. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find those lyrics again But my point is, all we have to do is plug in the countries doing battle today and everything still rings true.
I’m not clever enough to do it but I can see Iran is still in there, throw in Egypt. Florida’s still getting hurricanes and Texas is still in a drought. Pakistan needs mention and we’ll keep Afghanistan too. So my conclusion is that the only thing that changes is the name of the players.
Once it was Britain hates France..then Britian hated us (1812) and so on. World Wars and conflicts… someone is always hating someone and the United States, since it’s birth, has always been right in the middle of it. We were born of conflict.
I’m not condoning all the bickering and fighting. Makes me think of a dysfunctional family out to murder each other but do I agree that we’re worse off now than ever before? No I think it’s business as usual. That’s just the way of the world and any other catch phrase you can think of to mean “Its all the same”.
Maybe we won’t have to worry about it much longer if the Mayan’s are right. Guess we’ll know if we’re all still here on 12/22/2012.