Thursday, September 13, 2007

A follow-up post scriptum(s) to last post...

A case in point of how Debt has become as American as Coca-Cola is a former Boss I had who continually lamented about his bills, how far that he and wife were in debt(they recently purchased a huge four bedroom house - when all their kids were grown and had fled the coup), and he was barely paddling in the water. Finally, he got one of these Debt Consolidation deals that reduced his costs and got his mortgage within some means of payment with his and her incomes. The ink wasn't dry on the contract, and ONE DAY after the signing of it, I caught ex-Boss going over a catalogue full of televisions in the breakroom, and he said that he also needed a new riding lawn mower(he already had a good used John Deere); at lunch he visited the car dealership across the street and returned an hour later with the paperwork on a new auto. And this guy was always complaining that his kids couldn't manage their money....

[ Said former Boss also watched Golf AND Bowling on his 150 inch flat screen TV; feature that ex-Boss is one who thinks that reading books is a "complete waste of time." He asked me what a 'Buddhist'(this guy had some three years of college) was once, and another time he wanted to know if Mark Twain was the current kin to some bimbo Country singer with a weird first name....]
Congratulations America! We are not only the undisputed masters of the universe in Debt, we ain't resting on our laurels either: we've passed the $9,000,000,000,000 mark of Gross National Debt. Hurrah! 'We're #1!! We're #1!'

Where are the Flag Wavers when you need them??

Feature that the USA does not assume a great portion of this nine trillion dollar national debt, and we are kept from insolvency by foreign nations buying up T-Bonds and what have you. It's academic that if the Dollar tanks, these guys will get panicky and begin to call in their loans - which our government is in no position to pay.

Credit Card Lobbyist Stooge, Senator Grassley of Iowa, got the bill passed a few years back that makes it difficult for individual Americans to file Bankruptcy. Grassley and his other minions are part of the reason why we are approaching insolvency as a collective whole in Americana, yet this person has the gall to finger-wag the American people that they need to be more responsible with their money. The fact is, abuse of bankruptcy filings was not all that common and many Americans over-extended themselves on credit due to job outsourcing or medical bills. Besides, these guys at the Top has pushed this Debt Culture on the rest of us, then they whine when people 'aren't paying their bills' (and I thought only liberals had this "do as I say, not as I do" con down).

Guess we can blame South Dakota. In the early 1980s when the economy was actually in a depression, the Credit Card industry was near collapse, on its last legs. South Dakota's Governor want to jump-start the economy so he abolished the state's usury laws and invited the Credit Card New York City fellas to set up shop in his state. This sparked a chain reaction and all the other states in the Union that had usury laws knocked them down, one by one, and the Debt Culture was born....(no wonder some people want to put Reagan's mug on Mt. Rushmore, eh?).

Concur that a credit card is useful in emergencies, but the plan of attack from this industry is to get the user of it head over heels in debt with the Card so he or she is just paying the high interest. It's a racket, and the Credit Card lobby admits this: they totally despise people such as myself who pays any credit card purchases off in full, monthly. To combat those who 'just pay their bills', the Credit Card shysters will then offer extended lines of credit to entice the frugal to go out and spend and get so far in debt that they will just be doing the interest; once I had a credit company that voluntarily bumped-up my line beyond the sum that I was earning at the time in a single year. So, I looked the gift horse in the mouth and returned my cut-up credit card in response to this magnanimous offer;-).

This lobby needs to be checked, and Left-Federalist fully supports the re-institution of usury laws at the federal level.

'Work on 'em when they're young'.... the Debt Cartel knows this and practices it with gusto. A Kindergartner can get a Visa card these days, and so can his dog, Spot. It used to be a tradition in some American families to get Junior his own savings account passbook at his watershed sixth birthday, now we indoctrinate him in the 'Off-the-Cuff Existenz' before he can spell d-e-b-t. 'Saving for College' is no longer a common expression - the ticket is for Dick and Jane to take out loans for higher education with ever higher tuition costs just when their lives are just beginning;his/her Piggy Bank is now full of IOU's rather than US Currency....

I still bank at the same institution that I got my original Savings Account as a wee lad. Last year, this Savings& Loan abolished 'savings accounts' officially; once I asked a typical dimwit Teller there about their rates of CD's(just to test her knowledge) and she looked at me like I had come from Alpha Cenauri.

Basing an economy on Debt/consumption alone is a house of cards and it could easily collapse. I have this theory if just a quarter of the US population tears up their credit cards and never gets one again, this entire edifice will end up smoking rubble. We could easily turn the Consumer culture on its head, but won't happen: John Dole needs his 150 inch flat screen TV because Jones has a 140 inch one, and Mr. Dole needs a bigger house five years after he purchased it. He'd never think of saving for anything....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Outside of Sports, automobiles and talking Shop, one of the conversation bits that come up when the American Male species of two-legged mammals engages in what sociologists dub *Male Bonding*, knocking-back a few with his buddies, is - "Who would you do if your were trapped on 'Gilligan's Island'?

Being the type of hominid that I am who doesn't like either/or situations, want my beer and drink it too, I always toss a wrench into this question - 'You're leaving someone out of this here - what about Mrs. Howell??'

When shock manifests - " You'd do that Old Bag?!?' - I merely answer that 'Lovey' needs some lovin' too - her husband 'Thurstun' sleeps in a separate cot with a Teddy Bear, for chrissakes. And they say that older women turn into HornDogs when their hormones start rearranging at that age. Though I haven't a Granny Complex and very much prefer Ginger and/or Mary Ann as a mating partner, think of it this way: get in good with Mrs. Howell, give her a few good humpings, whack Thurstun and get all of his money - then you can BUY both Ginger and Mary Ann( yes, Mary Ann can be bought...her innocent Kansas farm-girl act didn't fool me a bit - and I know all about Kansas farm gals.) ;-)

American males are often so one-dimensional and they don't even have a good game plan even when thinking about studding TV actresses...
My last post may have been offensive to causcasoid members of the underclass, but I'm actually in their corner( I come from the same poor agrarian turned working class that they do and I so remain, not ashamed.). The major beef is when they get parvenu and uppity when some extra money comes their way and they have more than what Gramps and Granny had, and think that extra il dinero actually makes them somebody, when they aren't well-rounded fellows or care about being good citizens. Gramps&Granny may had been as poor as dogsnot, but they were probably better human beings?

Jim Goad wrote a sociological masterpiece regarding said white underclass , The Redneck Manifesto. Goad neither took a typical leftist path on it as Barbara Ehrenreich did, and neither is he a 'white power' advocate as some may initially think. Rather, said book is a balanced and well-researched text(and funny as hell, to boot) regarding America's historical attitudes to the White Trash, and the panache of the White Trash themselves. The sum of the book's message is that the white underclass has always been the convenient group to pick on, because they've always been so powerless, and they don't care that they are, really.

I've felt like 'getting Moe Howard' on HL Mencken lately, so I will continue. Many hail Mencken as muckraker for civil liberty and personal dignity such as his long campaign in the 1920s bashing the Ku Klux Klan in print. That's noble on the surface, but Mencken adorers(found today in the 'libertarian' ranks) need to realize that his hatred for the Klan, other white supremacy groups, and religious fundamentalism was motivated entirely from his classist snobbery: Mencken was a rare bird who hated both Jews and what he dubbed to be White Trash. His upbringing in Baltimore was high-bourgeoisie and he had that typical Southern upper-class distaste for Hillbillies and Hayseeds. 'Distaste' is a mellow word for it; Mencken believed that the underclass of Appalachia was fitting for extermination. His later opposition to the TVA New Deal program was in lieu that he didn't believe that these folks deserved any help. His championing of civil rights for Black Americans was only because he hated the white underclass more. Mencken was not a 'humanist' by any wild stretch, and Blacks were okay just as long as they worked in his daddy's cigar factory or served as cleaning help and chauffeurs.

The Mencken family married into the Hohenzollern aristocracy; Henry Louis's branch of this DNA left Germany in 1848 not because they felt that the democratic Republican revolutionary movement there would be gunned down in the streets(what ultimately happened) - but because Opa Mencken thought that they would win. The Menckens were not the liberal Forty-Eighters as was typical of German immigrants here in the 1850s and 60s; Hank wrote esoterically as if he had been deprived of his aristocratic heritage in America, and sought a way to get it back. Therefore, his attraction to Nietzsche, and he had the standard misreading of Nietzsche's thought - except the Master vs. Slave morality thingy - and Mencken undoubtedly felt himself to be a Herrenmensch, when Nietzsche himself wouldn't had liked him (there weren't too many that Nietzsche did like anyway). Though Mencken's personal politics contained those Jeffersonian memes, he had no love for even representative democracy and a biting and vicious rancor of anything smacking of populism and/or having an energetic citizenry from all walks of life promoting civic nationalism....

'Digression' is my middle- name. The message can be NutShell'd as this: There is nothing wrong with the underclass steppin' up in the material world, but when they forget where once both feet were planted, there is the problem. Having more $$ than your parents did, doesn't make you a better person if you also do not work on being. And please, do not confound it more by adopting a hyphenated surname, and pretend that you are part of the jet-set because of your admission into the local Elks Club, or that the Masonic Lodge wants you(they'll take anybody these days...even I was approached once by one of their recruiters), and you go into further debt by buying a house or vehicle that shows status, but is nevertheless beyond your means...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Another thing that I find curious about some of my fellow Americans(mostly the females) are those who adopt hyphenated surnames. I mean, who the dickens do they think that they are - British aristocracy(didn't we have a Revolution some 200+ years ago to throw these types out of the country, or did I miss something??)?

Reading the local neighborhood committee's insert placed in my mailbox the other day, I noticed a hyphenated surname of an American female that I have known most of my existenz on the steering committee of said organization. Well, I just had to laugh: said female-human American with the hyphenated surname, hails from the biggest WHITE TRASH family(s) in the entire county and so does her Better Half! Her DNA is so White Trash, that the guests on the Jerry Springer Show would hold their noses up in the air if they met up; she's so White Trash, that field rats jump into water to cleanse themselves if they ever found themselves near her; she's so White Trash, that the inbred Hillbillies of Tennessee(where her protoplasm originally comes from) ran all of her kin off with shotguns because they didn't want to appear slumming by having them share the same mountain, near Bugtussle....

And this person, who couldn't find Great Britain on a map or care if she couldn't, has adopted a hyphenated-surname???
The two pillars of the current' American Way of Life' -work and individualism - have both shining and glaring contradictions. Though we today do the 24/7 work/consumption(and debt) routine, we are some of the laziest people on the planet outside of the job site(s). We work longer and have got fatter than the previous generation, and at the shopping mall - even in fair weather - witness the bipeds drive around the busy parking lot for 10 minutes just to find an open space that is close to the entrance ( once I watched this fat bitch - who nearly tagged my truck - in a BMW do this. I parked way back in the boon docks and hiked in in less than a minute. I walked in the door and noticed that she was still driving around searching for an opening, close-by. She finally made it in the store and I noticed that she had *Slim-Fast*products in her cart!); one spouse of a relative insists on driving to her job though she lives a mere two-blocks from it; the other day I opened the office door for a banshee who didn't want to make the effort to get her own key and walk back(she was the same distance from said office that I was;Banshee was on her way to the Athletic Club for a cardio, undoubtedly.) These are some subjective observations out of numerous....

As for individualism, Americans are the most Herd-like creatures - whilst they be Squares or think that they are part of the *Cool Ones* maximizing their individualism for all the world to see. I don't have much bones to pick with the Squares(Frat Boys/Chamber of Commerce/Stock Broker/Insurance racketeers, etc.) since most will fully admit that they are going along with the flow, playin' the Game, keeping up with Jones - it's these coffeehouse/hirsute/ purple or Ronald McDonald haired Roosters adorning themselves with fishing lures in their faces, thinking that having shit permanently engraved in their skin makes them really unique specimens in the known universe. Each their own - I'm keen on that. If people want to look like Walt Disney puked all over them, that's okay with me. If they have more pieces of metal in their faces, tongues and other body parts than I have in my fishing tackle box - bloody well n' good. What is the objection is that when such creatures somehow believe that they are non-conformists and that they're their own personal archetype of an *Individual*(just ask them). The negation is that they're merely conforming to a notion of non-conformity - doin' what their friend or some celebrity is doing;notice that these self-proclaimed individuals always run in packs, just like all other humans do. Those who confess that they just want to be 'Goth', 'Punk', Metal Face,HipHopper, Rastafarian(the Caucasian Dreadlocked bunch are particularly amusing to behold) neoHippie/neoBeatnik, whatever category - I respect them for being truthful. But don't give me any of this 'individuality' crap - they have little concept of it.

And few homo sapiens sapiens are true individuals/non-conformists - just like true Genius comes around once in a blue moon. Genuine article individuals are usually found in the NutHouse or they inhabit downtown streets and eat out of garbage cans(in the Middle Ages they were burned at the stake for being witches), and they can keep it. We're all Herd and social animals regardless how much persons deludes themselves thinking - "I'm a unique Individual and the sun personally revolves around Me!"

And Yanks are the most adroit cattle-grazers that there is. They know all about having&doing mind you, but speak on Being - you might as well be trying to converse in Swahili with them: just greet a colleague with "How are you being?" instead of 'How do you do?" and watch the momentary blank look on their countenances before they reply....

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Post Labor Day Thoughts

A liquor store employer remarked to me and the other patrons in his store, last Saturday, that Labor Day is the day of 'not-to-work', but Americans with their Consumer Cult need for 24/7 service, no longer abide by this. He said that he would be damned if he was going to work on Labor Day, and neither were his employees. These are not the words of a labor unionist or socialist - he owns a small chain of liquor stores and seems to be quite well to do. He began as a mere grocery store clerk however, and obviously hasn't forgot what it means to be an employee.

Naturally, I put my two-cents in, and replied that first they took away May Day from the American Working Stiff, now they went to work on the first Monday in September; there are companies who don't even have Labor Day as a paid-holiday for their staff. Some - most Yanks - gasp that May Day is a 'Commie Holiday', and no red-blooded true American would observe it. Actually, May Day goes back to pagan times before Karl Marx&Co. were spermatozoa swimming in their daddies' MuleJuice. It's actually as American as Apple Pie: the first of May was one of the days that George Washington ordered the Continental Army to stand down when they were not in military engagements, for instance...

The fact is, that Yanks in the 21st Century work longer hours than at anytime in the 19th Century - the period that some erroneously view as the golden age of the Protestant Work Ethic. Some slave-driving American capitalists joke about the 'lazy bums' in places like France with their 35 hour work week(soon to abolished by Paris's NeoCon and laissez-faire Le Predator, Nicky Sarkozy?), yet the Frenchies today work longer than their grape-pickers in Alsace did in the Middle Ages. Our ancestors were 'slackers' in comparison to present times, but still we hear Old Foggies lamenting - " they sure knew how to WORK back in them thar days!" Yeah, they did. They worked their butts off via lack of technology, artificial lighting, but they also knew what leisure meant. The medieval peasant, the apprentice blacksmith, would not be employed at any company in the 21st Century because he would insist on having his holidays - which were more numerous than those today. And from what we know about the sociology of the Working Stiff in the 13th Century, it appears that they largely kept their own hours and were not regimented to a defined daily punch-in and out. Many have this image of the Feudal Lord standing over his Manor occupants cracking the whip; though feudalism was a form of slavery,the Lords actually seemed to have been loose, lackadaisical bosses - just as long as they got their cut from the crops and whatnot that their peasants toiled over to bring in. Their workday, as an aggregate whole, probably didn't extend much over five hours - yet civilization continued. Thus, the 24/7, three-jobs, 48hour + a week Consumer/ Work Cult today is more indicative of decline than that of social benevolence...

Even when Americans are off from their jobs come Labor Day, many spend it working about their houses and whatnot( as they do come their summer vacations and leave - if they have vacations, that is.) Even those who utilize their granted holidays and leaves, they remark that they'd had rather been working and didn't know what to do with themselves when granted leisure, even if it is paid; humans that spend their weekends not doing something, are often derisively regarded as 'loafers' by these above robotic workaholic creatures - even if the loafers are punching a clock consistently during the week, and have a dedicated ethos on the Job. I personally know people who would rather work than to fuck, for that matter - "..sorry, Miss Penthouse Pet of the Year, I gotta get to my third job at the Convenience Store!" Maybe I exaggerate here, but I wonder about some of these guys who slave-drive themselves(?)

Another thing that is deeply annoying are these workaholics who complain that they haven't time for their Families and maybe they should downsize their worship of the Protestant Work Ethic. The fact is that they don't even know their *family*(they're always working, how could they?), and would undoubtedly end up in divorce, wife-beating and child abuse if they were in the situation to "spend time with my family". If one is truly into *Family Values* they would had tried to fathom a way that they could work less, anyway. But they actually think that Family dedication is having things to keep up with the Joneses and the latest gadget trends. This has become the true-blue American concept of Family, so workaholics had better not cry on my shoulders about their neglected families - spouse & the biped spawn from their loins are mere possessions for them. I once played the workaholic game, time to time, but I learned to grow-up out of it.

And I don't work at a goddamn thing on Labor Day, either, and I'd probably shoot the person who tried to coerce me to work that day.