Walking To the ‘Barack Candy Mountain’

The election over, a page has turned.

As I have opined previously, a major crossroad has been encountered.  The partisan battle for control of the rudder of the ship of State has resulted in a hard turn to ‘port’.  This nautical ‘left turn’ is frightening  to half of us, and cause for celebration  to the half who were able to veer the ship to the left of the fiscal iceberg which loomed ominously ahead.

Perhaps it will not matter which direction we veered to avert the fiscal disaster before us.  After all, any (hopefully) school child knows that the greater part of any iceberg looms low and wide beneath the surface.  It may be that the inane bickering in Congress and on the airwaves has kept us from realizing that we have long since passed the point, some nautical miles behind us, where prudent diversion of course either way would have kept us from the danger that looms below.  If this is the case, a ruptured keel will soon doom us all, regardless of whether it is torn asunder on the  port-side  or starboard.

If it is not the case, though, and we steam on, unscathed, to a sunset on an uncertain horizon, it is obvious that things will be different in latitudes closer to Greece than they would have been in a veer to starboard, where the latitudes are closer to Lake Woebegone.

The direction has been chosen, though, and it is clear that the momentum of the administrative and bureaucratic tonnage that groans beneath us will change our cultural sensibilities for decades to come.

As I was driving home two days after the election from my menial position as a cashier at a gas-station/convenience store, I noticed not one, but three well-illuminated billboards within a span of about twelve miles, advertising ‘1-800’ phone numbers to call for quick and trusty service for those who have :   “Had your disability claim denied?  We can help get you what you deserve”.  My mind flashed back to sit-downs with insurance clients who were exercising their disability riders on life insurance policies so that the premiums would be paid by the company.  Filling out their paperwork, it was mandatory to ask for the nature of the disability.  In every case I experienced, the ‘disability’ was not physical, or even really mental.  Matter-of-factly, I was informed by the policy holder that “work is just pressure I cannot handle”.     The Doctors’ name and number were dutifully noted, and the forms were sent in.  I never received notice that any of these claims were denied.

The dozen or so patrons I meet daily who use EBT/food stamp cards over the last year have never bought a gallon of milk; a loaf of bread; or even lunch meat.  The purchases are predominately sodas; juices; potato chip products; candy bars; ice cream and, of course; slurpees.

Two Slurpees in a car cupholder.

Two Slurpees in a car cupholder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m no judge here, don’t get me wrong.  I cannot help but notice, however, that these products, regardless of what can be said about their nutritional or caloric values, are in fact the products we vend which have the highest profit per unit.  (Ours is not to wonder why; ours is just to bag the pie).

Someone should make Michelle Obama hip to this.                                                   

On this same drive home, fretting about the maxing out of my hours  at twenty-nine since the election due to the Obama-care mandate, I happened upon a sound clip on the radio of Dennis Miller,  who now has his own conservative talk-radio show, (and who is, in my estimation, much more tolerable now that he has left sports commentating.)  His reaction to the election was not one of  bitterness; vitriol; or vindictiveness, but, rather one of resignation.   He noted that a guy with a family these days who makes a little over $50,000 a year can make about the same by going on the public dole.  Indeed, I know many at work who purposely cap their hours to less than twenty per week so as not to limit their eligibility for the free healthcare; food stamps; and income supplements they get by NOT working.  There are many small businesses today which cannot find needed help because they cannot match what ‘Big Brother’ pays them to be idle.

Once you latch onto an “Obama phone”; it is apparently difficult to give up those 4 or 5 hundred free minutes per month.

A switch of the radio station resulted in hearing an old “hobo” song from the twenties and thirties:  “The Big Rock-Candy Mountain”.  As I listened to its’ lyric describing the reverie of a perfect world from the point of view of  a hobo, I could not help but think of the similarity of that dream to what is unfolding today.

I’ve modified the lyric……the tune can be heard by clicking on the link below:

“The Barack Big Rock Candy Mountain”
(originally by Haywire Mac, 1928)

 

 

One evening as the polls shut down

And the pundits’ bile was churning,

Down the street came a vagrant hiking,

And he said, “Folks, I’m not turning

I’m headed for a land that’s far away

Besides the crystal fountains

So come with me, we’ll go and see

The Barack Candy Mountain”

 

“On the Barack Candy Mountain,

There’s a land that’s fair and bright,

Where the handouts grow on bushes

And you sleep warm every night.

Where the Swisher Sweets are plenty

And the sun shines every day

And the birds and the bees

And the cigarette trees

And the Red Bull springs

Where the bluebird sings

On the Barack Candy Mountain.”

 

“In the Barack Candy Mountains

The Obama phones are ‘smart’

And the TVs all are HD flat

And Republicans have hearts

Convenience stores are full of booze

Your Lotto picks win every day

Oh I’m bound to go

Where there ain’t no snow

Where the rain don’t fall

The winds don’t blow

In the Barack Candy Mountain.”

 

“In the Barack Candy Mountain,

All the churches give to you

And the little streams of Rolling Rock

Come trickling down so cool

The police have to tip their hats

And the store clerks all are blind

There’s a lake of brew

And of Slurpees too

You can paddle all around it

In a big canoe

In the Barack Candy Mountain.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“In the Barack Candy Mountain,

Networks all are CNN

And there’ll be more reality shows,

In slots where Fox has been.

You stay on ‘disability’,

And your checks come EFT

I’m bound to stay

Where you sleep all day,

Where they hung the jerk

That invented work

In the Barack Candy Mountain.”

“On the Barack Candy Mountain

All the ballots are absentee

And the only lines to stand in

Are for RedBox DVD’s

On this mountain have no fear

Of Tea Parties or of work

To us it’s owed

A tattooed bar-code

small price to pay

To not have to pray

On the Barack Candy Mountain.”

 

experiment4

Walking to Victory with Joe Biden: The Debate “Scorecard”…..(What a Guy!!)

I have opined in an earlier post that America is, indeed, at a crossroads.  Crucial choices we make next month as an electorate will decide the future direction of  a country struggling to keep its identity as “a shining city on a hill”.  Will we continue to be, as Bill Bennett argues, the world’s “Last Best Hope?”  Or shall we continue what many perceive as a decline in our world stature……the “next” failed empire, and follow the Euro-zone into relativism and economic implosion?

We are now in the stage of the campaign where the swords of the contestants are crossed in a series of  ‘debates’.  The vitriol and negativism of the media machinery are at their height, but this is not new.  The heat of the campaign ‘kitchen’ has always been intense.  A study of  campaigns as far back as those of  Adams, Jefferson and Jackson will reveal shocking assertions and tactics, so low in many instances as to raise even the eyebrows of  modern pundits and analysts.  It is almost as if the debates are an island of civility in a roiling sea of acrimony and vitriol.  The contestants are introduced, smile and shake each other’s hand, and retire to predetermined podiums or tables where they are expected to “play nice” and to concede to the authority of a ‘moderator’.

This is, after all, a time-honored tradition, going back centuries.  ‘The debates’ are as much a part of the political culture as the keynote speeches of the conventions or the ceremonial casting of votes by the contenders in their home states and cities or towns.

It is a positive thing for the country that this tradition can persevere.  With the polarization of  the electorate now so severe that 80% of the campaign visits of either candidate have centered on a mere handful of “swing-states”,  it is perhaps more crucial than ever that the debate productions remind us all that the issues can be discussed; argued; and analyzed in a civil and controlled manner, and in a forum where rules exist and are enforced to ensure a level field of play and a courteous (if spirited) dialogue.  The drums of division can, at least for a moment, be stilled.  The jingoism and crude characterization of either side in slogans or placards by the other can be  suspended.

I was a high school debater.  I enjoyed it enough that I happily worked hard enough at the research; rehearsal; and skills of dialogue and extemporization to become a captain of our team when I was a senior.  Under the aegis of the “N.F.L.“,  (National Forensic League)  I was able to overcome stage fright; shyness and self-doubt to develop skills which helped my team to tie for third place in the state during my senior year.  While it developed my oratorical skills and honed my ability to speak publicly, what was most important for me was that it taught me the merits of logical analysis and the benefits to persuasion of structured argument.

It is no secret that the tradition of presidential debate was solidified forever in 1960; when the public was introduced to the first televised series of presidential debates.  This innovation had two results for the country.  The first was positive.  The second was not.

First, it helped the contestants reach an audience never before achieved in electoral history.  Television enabled the electorate to hear, and to react, to the arguments in real-time, without the need to have to read it in a newspaper the next day.  One no longer had to have the patience and/or ability to read lengthy narratives or quotes to be truly informed about the candidates’ stands on the crucial issues of the day.

Second, it allowed the media to become more powerful an “estate”.  The “fourth estate” was now able to relate to the public not just the narrative and the textual content of the candidates’ assertions and responses to each other, but also its’ “take”, or “slant” on matters irrelevant to the arguments; the logic; or the oratorical skills of the candidates.  The media/press was emboldened by the technology of television to opine; assert, and yes, to judge the contestants on matters theretofore only the province of Hollywood or Broadway critics.

The victory of Kennedy over Nixon was as narrow as we have seen, even in recent years.  Had the media not made such an issue of Nixon’s’ apparent perspiration (in the heavy lights of black-and-white television production back then); or of the existence of  his ‘five o’clock shadow’ it is arguable that the election could have turned out differently.  This ‘judging’ was not of  logic or analysis, but rather of physical attributes.  Debates had gone ‘Hollywood‘.

And so began the decline, (at least to this writer) of the quality of the ‘debates’.  Less emphasis on qualitative logic and analysis, and much more emphasis on “gotcha” moments (remember Quayle’s blinking disbelief at the comment ‘…you’re no Jack Kennedy“…?      or….Reagan’s ‘home run’ zinger…”…there you go again“…?).  My interest in the debates began to wane.  As argumentative skill was no longer at a premium to the ‘judges’, I realized that the media had taken over the playing field.  The condensation of the ‘zingers” and the ‘gotcha’ moments would flood the printed pages and the airwaves, and the “winner” would be the one with the least stutters; the best laughs; and the fewest  ‘fact-checkable’ assertions.

Until last Tuesday.

When I saw the performance of our Vice President, I began to realize that the time-honored tradition of classic oratory and debating skill was still alive and well.  That Joe Biden…..what a guy!

Allow me to demonstrate.  In classic debate forums; a debate is judged objectively, and a ‘victory’ goes to the contestant most adept in the following categories:

Logically Defensible Case–(Selection of Arguments):  Mr. Biden was masterful at summing up the defense of the ‘status ‘quo’ of the last four years.  The Obama administration was in control of the economy; the situation in Libya and the proper pace of the draw-down of troops in Iraq.  He supported these assertions with geometric logic which was irrefutable and unrebuttable.

Analysis–(Ability to Analyze the Topic Area):  Again, “Joltin’ Joe” was in command throughout the debate.  The Libyan embassy situation, for example, was a result of intelligence failings, and as a result the administration could not have done anything different.  His logic was concise and his analysis was keen.

Organization–(Ability to Organize Ideas into a Structured Whole):  The vice-president’s ability to organize complex issues enabled him to harness the minutia of myriad statistical studies and to present them in layman’s’ terms

Evidence-(Support of Arguments with Information):  Again, the clear winner here was Biden.  He was able to use the “wonkishness” of Mr. Ryan against him by reminding  the other “average Joes” out there in the audience that Ryan was like the smartest kid in the class at school that everybody hated.  Mr. Ryan’s almost ‘savant’ command of  economic data was used as evidence that Romney/Ryan were not to be trusted.

Language–(Phrasing of Concepts Clearly and Concisely):  Decades of public service had served Mr. Biden well.  He has a folksiness and beaming smile which is at once disarming and brutal.  He was easy to understand. He spoke the language of the ‘common man’ 

Refutation–(Perception of Irrelevant or Irrational Arguments):  The vice-president was able to parry each and every one of Mr Ryan’s’ assertions directly, with a “matter-of-factness” that was devastating.

Use of Allotted Time–(Conciseness of argument):  An old law school professor of mine use to tell us, before the essay portion of our final examinations, that “brevity is its’ own reward”.  Joe was succinct; to the point; and never went over his allotted time.

There you have it.  Mr. Biden was the clear winner as a function of forensic debate parameters.  His performance has already become the stuff of legend.   (What a guy!!)

One hopes he will participate in the coaching of the President in his preparations for the second debate with Mr. Romney.  The style he seems to champion seems like a natural fit for someone ‘at sea’ without a teleprompter.

We can only hope……

Walking the Capitol Steps–(A Long, Tot Hummer in the Sting Swates)

The campaign for the 2012 presidential election is going along pretty much as I predicted.  It’s going to get much uglier.  Already overwhelmed by the plethora of ads both sides are buying, I find myself  jaded to the point of apathy.   But there is no escape.

sameoldI live in one of the handful of “swing states” that both campaigns are targeting with 40% of their campaign coffers.  Add to this the incessant yammering of the “talking heads” at CNN; Fox; MSNBC; etc., and it seems you are going to have to become more  familiar with your DVD collection, or, to at least become aware of the location of the nearest RedBox, if you are to enjoy any of your repose before your television between now and November.  

It is sad that the media has been successful in steering the emphasis away from the real issues at hand, and instead, substituted the “gaffe du jour“; the “YouTube moment”; and even the filleting of the CEO of Chick-fil-A. as the real “meat” of the contest.   It is even sadder that our indifference in this, our  “apathy”  stage of  this deteriorating empire, encourages the chicanery.   ‘Slogans’ have given way to ‘keywords’ and ‘tags’.  Party “platforms” have all but disappeared from public view, lest they become “trapdoors” unlatched by a random “live mike” or the fuzzy, (but remunerated) recollections of a high school acquaintance.

Indeed, the campaigns have become so comic; so surreal, that, were an alien  to peruse the media as he orbited prior to landing, he would be quite reasonably certain that the contest is between a Kenyan socialist from Hawaii and a hairdresser (since high school) from Michigan. He would note that unemployment compensation creates  jobs  (Who knew?);  that the most important laws and most comprehensive administrative regulations passed in Congress are actually passed before they are read,  and that a reasonable result of having produced 163,000 new jobs is an increased unemployment rate (8.3%).

Strange place, this USA.

Indeed, so strange, that I find it sadly pointless to debate any of the substantive issues, regardless of my political leanings, since it is these self same  issues which are pointedly ignored by the media due to the revenue magnetism of ‘reality” genre television, and by the candidates and their handlers out of simple convenience.   When I started this blog, I looked forward to using my education in political science; law; history and literature to writing essays and commentary which would do George Will or Mike Royko proud.  But, as apathy has become the grease by which we hasten our descent to a total state of dependence on governmental largesse merited not by individual worth, but by common demography,  it seems clear that it’s the sound-bites; the teleprompters: and the “fuzzy math” of  vote tabulation which will win the day for whichever side is victorious.

As such, in the interest of my sanity, I have deleted the many drafts I have started, on everything from ‘flat-taxes’, to media de-contextualization of sound-bites; to Wall Street coziness with Congress, and beyond.  I find that the only hope I can have to reach out to those still curious enough to look at the issues is by helping to convince them of the media’s high-jacking of the process by exposing the sheer silliness of its’ style and emphasis.  If we are serious about changing course, or serious about keeping the current course, we owe it to ourselves to look beyond the charlatans of the media and to look for the real beef in the issues.

As a “fair and balanced” observer of the political scene, I read and watch multiple sources of news:  Fox; CNN; RealClearPolitics; Politico‘ and PBS and NPR.  One of my favorite broadcasts on NPR is the semiannual presentation put on by a group called “The Capitol Steps“.  This comedy troupe is well accomplished in writing “send-ups” of all that is political,  and provides a merry mix of song; narrative and dramatic vignettes which spares no side or faction from its’  ‘lampoonery’.  My favorite part of the show is what I refer to as “Alliterative Dyslexia”, wherein the beginning consonants  or complete syllables of words in phrases and names, are switched for each other, mostly with hilarious results.  ( Some people refer to these as “Spoonerisms”….  I like my name better)

I present the following not to be cute; nor to supportive of one side or the other.  I present the following inanity to illustrate just how close the real world of the media is to a state of inanity; and to how little it still yet takes to see it for what it is:

It was a sot hummer.  Way HOO tot.  Ho sot he could stardly hand it anymore.  He bopped open a peer, and cat on the souch.  Rurfing away on the semote, he was coon sussing at all the comitical polercials.

“Ritt Momney” wants to Taise your raxes, middle America!”  (click)

“Obama now supports  “may garriage”…..but nat’s thot what he said in 2008.  He’ll do anything to vet your gote”.  (click)

“Ritt Momney exported jousands of thobs when he ran Cain Rapital.  Was one of those yobs jours?”  (click)

“Rarry Heid and Pancy Nelosi are bending us into spankruptcy.  And that’s bust the jeginning.”   (Click)

“Here at Fox, we’re bair and falanced……let’s look at this clip of Miss Chratthews talking about how, when he thinks about Barak Obama, it sends ‘lingles dunning rown his teg.’ “.   (click)

“Remocratic Depresentative Waxine Maters sez:  ‘The Pea Tarty can ho to gell!’  ”  (click)

“Obama, on tampaign crail , reminds business owners:  “You bidn’t duild that.  Hovernment gelped.”  “(click)

“Commander-in Chief’ cispronounces ‘more’ as ‘morpse” …. Taulty feleprompter blamed”  (click)

“Obama says some Pennsylvania voters prefer to ‘cling to their gaith  and their funs’.”‘   (click)

“Ritt quoted as promising 12 jillion new mobs in first term”     (click)

“Ritt bights fack at allegations of tullying as a been.”  (click)

“Obama bires fack at suggestion he is flanning the fames of ‘class warfare’ ”  (click)

“Justice Department sues states for voter I.D. laws which violate the Rill of Bights”  (click ‘off’)

He rossed the temote on the table and got another feer from the bridge.  He rolled the can across his brow, defreshed by its’  skoolness against his rin.  Opening it, he took a swong lig and tried to sake some mense out of what he had just seen.

He was underemployed at a jeager mob. The hortgage on his mouse was still underwater.  Gasoline was pushing four gollars a fallon, and it was harder this summer than ever before just to put tood on the fable.  None of what he had just seen provided a plogent  can for stump-jarting the economy.  All he could fook lorward to was  the coming deventions and the conbates.  There, spectacle would surely overcome  substance; rehearsal would trump refutation.

He thridled at the bought that campaigns had degenerated into a slicing and dicing of the electorate into ‘sting-swates’,  where bace-raiting and frass cliction would be used to vet out the gote in an all-out effort to take the wheel of the bus  leaving Dependence, Illinois in November, and arriving in Bondage, Georgia soon thereafter.

He sighed.  It moesn’t datter who is driving when you can’t range the choute.

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” —Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816

The Decline of a Nation.  (Copyright (C) 1996-2012 Probe Ministries)

 The first stage moves from bondage to spiritual faith. The second from spiritual faith to great courage. The third stage moves from great courage to liberty. The fourth stage moves from liberty to abundance. The fifth stage moves from abundance to selfishness. The sixth stage moves from selfishness to complacency. The seventh stage moves from complacency to apathy. The eighth stage moves from apathy to moral decay. The ninth stage moves from moral decay to dependence. And the tenth and last stage moves from dependence to bondage.

Walking Your Next Mile in the Shoes of Another

Racism, homophobia, “class warfare” etc. ….

These are not so much problems as they are the symptoms of a deeper issue. As a friend in a forum I belong to so succinctly points out: “But wouldn’t it be great if instead of pushing down and trying to take from the others, we could teach ourselves to create and be something bigger?”

Whatever your faith or religion, it cannot be denied that Jesus articulated two basic tenets of harmony: First, that we should love our God; and second, that we should demonstrate our love for our Maker by loving each other as we do ourselves.

Those guilty of ignoring these tenets are members of every race; all ‘genders’; every political party and all religious denominations. Those who strive to enhance their self-perception and regard by noting their own ‘superiority’ via vilification of “the other” are the truly bigoted villains of a healthy society.

It will not be until the ‘second coming’ that these faults can be finally erased from the human condition.

I majored in History. I watched the live coverage of hoses and dogs being used in the South in the ’60’s. “Strange Fruit“, a tale of lynching sung by Billie Holiday, is my favorite song by her. I do not see how anyone can be homophobic about a genre of personalities that include Somerset Maugham and Cole Porter.

Ever seen the films Traffic or Colors?   These powerful depictions of the folly of “otherness” address the basic issue more aptly than any focus group or sensitivity curriculum ever could or will.

Would that everyone could view and comprehend the message of these films. And by “everyone” I mean just that. Yes, caucasian males are the handiest whipping boys on whom to pin the badge of racism and homophobia, but again, the mindset of “otherness” is not confined to just us ‘pinkish prudes’. I note, from personal experience, that:

** My mother still uses the ‘n’-word’. It is reflexive in her and unchecked by the practice of…faith. (The ‘unknown’ as “the other”)

** I’ve worked with middle-aged, well-groomed black female professionals who matter-of-factly related to me their detesting of Condoleeza Rice when she was Secretary of State. They were certain she was the concubine of the elder Bush, and afforded no weight to her obvious intelligence and acumen. (‘Accomplishment and success’ as “the other”)

** I’ve been kicked out of gay bars for having brought a female who danced a bit too flagrantly for the tastes of the attending clientele. (The ‘difficult to pigeon-hole’ as “the other”)

**I’ve been turned down for a position at a former employer who, informed me that my background and qualifications were so good, that it might be “intimidating” to the younger, female prospective co-workers. Since I was securely employed in my current position, it seemed there would be no harm or foul in indulging in excluding ‘the graying male’ (as “the other”).

**At that same large employer, I was reported to security after inserting my hand into the closing doors of an elevator after a break. The refined Jewish female I shared the car with eyed me up and down from my shoes to my straw “Max Cady” fedora. Though I wore the mandated photo ID on my shirt, it was clear she regarded me as an interloper at best, and a public menace at worst.  After disembarking and returning to my desk, I predicted to my team-mates that I would be visited by a security officer soon.  And I was. After satisfying the security officer that I was a bona fide employee, I remarked to them that “I been profiled!” A directory search and a phone call, out of courtesy to my fellow employee in the elevator, did not elicit an apology. (the assertive and ‘severe-looking’ male as “the other”)

** My own former habit of disdaining those who come to church in jeans and sweatshirts has been conquered after working with and talking with these individuals and enjoying their company and contributions. (The ‘less holy than I’ as “the other”)

I could go on for days. My point is that, without the comprehension of, and adherence to,the Golden Rule, all this crap about racism and bigotry and homophobia will continue to be exploited as the favored elements of the arsenal of power politics. ” Divide and Conquer”,…that’s the ticket!!   Always has been, and always will be.

Love yourself!!  Love your neighbor by calling out the charlatans who would divide us by demonizing the other color; the other sexual preference; the other income bracket; the other political party; the other faith.

Resist being counted as ‘sheep”  by brokers of media power and influence.   Only God Almighty can view us as ‘sheep’.  We must all let “the other” shoe drop and finally walk to our own conscience rather than to the cadence of the drums of division.  The’ Golden Rule‘ is not a high-wire.  Its’ path is wide enough for all who shun the politics of division and recognize the Holy Spirit in each  of us as children of God.

Walking Toward the Crossroads: The Next Presidential Election in America (Amerika?)

In eleven short months, the electorate will cast its collective judgment on the current state of our union.  

Between today and that day in November, 2012, we will be inundated, bombarded and deluged with hyperbole; alarmism; smear campaigns; and outright lies by both sides.  Millions (indeed, on the part of the incumbent, billions) of dollars will be expended in the struggle for the hearts and minds of those of us who will vote.  The media will abound with ‘talking heads’ who, under the guise of  ‘commentary’ will proliferate the bile; volume; and just plain viciousness we have already begun to see.  Apologies will accelerate, barely able to keep pace with the snowballing diatribe foisted on us as ‘journalism’.  (The most recent example….Chris Matthews apologizing for a story the day before on the identification of  a Republican candidate’s mention of  keeping “America American” in his campaign literature as identical with the ideology of the KKK).  Indeed, the volume and pace and pure noise of these rants will be such that those just listening to (enduring) it will be stricken hoarse.

What is unique about the coming election, however, is not the record-setting levels of animosity and recrimination, but the polarization of the electorate itself.  To the extent that the last thirty-seven months have upended people’s lives by sapping their savings; their equity; their confidence; and their trust of government itself; the time in their view, is nigh for a reckoning.  Reckoning?  Of what?

Of whether America can continue to be a viable republic, when:

-There are more bureaucrats and compliance officers at many leading state universities than there are professors.

-In an ‘upside-down’ enforcement of securities and banking regulations, financial service representatives cannot afford to spend time with those nearing retirement unless they have $100,000, because of the costs of  licensing and compliance requirements….(the shrinking workforce in the financial services industry has been disproportionately penalized in this regard while the Madoffs; hedge fund managers and ex-governors and inside- trading legislators continue their practices largely unregulated).  As a result those who need their knowledge and advice the most are increasingly shunned by representatives, who are aimed by their employers at the physician, the attorney, the dentist or other business owner.

-Employers are disqualifying job applicants because they have been …..unemployed!

-The most effective income multiplier is the intentional breeding of out-of-wedlock children.

-Incumbent doctrine asserts as axiomatic the notion that unemployment compensation extension creates jobs.

-Public school hours are being cut ( in this writer’s district, to no later than 1:30 p.m).; teachers are being laid off; with no commensurate reduction in bureaucratic advisers; diversity managers; sensitivity coaches or government-provided breakfasts and lunches.

That the electorate has become polarized more that at any time in history, since maybe Lincoln’s first campaign, is manifest in a recent post in WordPress by a bright college student which candidly remarked on the alarming rate of  welfare and food-stamp fraud any cashier at any grocery witnesses daily.  See her post:   http://thecollegeconservative.com/2011/12/13/my-time-at-walmart-why-we-need-serious-welfare-reform/.

While not going into the textual content of the post itself, and while not even expressing herein an opinion of its validity; what is striking here is not so much the post itself, but the commentary it provoked.  Just going through the first 125 or so of these, which took a few hours, what become abundantly, and shockingly clear, was the level of pent-up frustration with a bureaucratic governmental system which is spending increasingly more to fund questionable lifestyles with the taxes derived from the barely over fifty percent of us who actually earn an income.

The litany of first-hand observation and anecdotal narrative in the commentary is eye-opening to say the least.  Without getting into the vagaries of whether steak or lobster are legitimate purchases with food-stamps; whether the majority of recipients of these funds have legitimate need for them and practice prudence in spending them; or whether they actually comply with the original intent of such programs to provide temporary help for those in need, what is clear is the sheer volume of this rapidly increasing component of current government spending and the blatant absence of  prudence in administering the program.  That is…conceding the point that it may be true that the majority of recipients are not “gaming” the system by fudging data in verbal applications (very much like the “stated income” fiasco in the mortgage crisis, though the ‘statements’ have to do with the presence or absence of a wage earner in the household), the fact remains that a 30% increase in food stamp spending under the incumbent administration necessitates at least a 30% increase in “gaming”, all on the backs of a static labor force contending with higher prices for gasoline; food; health insurance; and medicine.

Increasing polarization is evident in the commentary of some 20 to 30% of those who “chimed in”….calling the author either a racist; an apologist for the “one-percenters”; or a spoiled brat, ignorant of the war-mongering corporations and bailed-out banks whose evil plots are the ‘real’ causes of our suffering.

One cannot help but feel for those who related enduring the stigma of applying, only to be told they earned too much, even though they were behind in their mortgage, to qualify……or those who were told, quite bluntly, that they should ‘rethink’ their marital status if they wanted to qualify.  These same good people could also often relate first-hand accounts of beverages being bought by the case with food-stamps, only to be emptied down a drain in the parking lot so the bottles could be returned/redeemed for cash to use on tobacco and alcohol.  The chasm separating those raised on precepts of responsibility, who state rightly that such misuse robs those who are actually in need, and those who have come to regard this largesse as an entitlement, is wide and deep.

What perfect fodder for the media mills.  How dry a tinder for the strife and animosity the stoking of “class warfare” can incite.

And thus, the crossroads.  It would seem that a prudent observer of history or practical economics could not rationally expect our republic to survive on its present course.  At the crossroads, one of only two things can happen.  To the left, an incumbent victory will be taken as vindicating further government spending, which will foster more dependence; reinforce perceptions of  “entitlement”; and breed more uncertainty among large employers, upon whose backs the spending will be supported, forcing even more employment cuts to satisfy stockholders yearning for dividends.  (After all , at some point the money will have to be assessed rather than printed).  To the right, a Republican victory will be seized as a mandate to take heed of the Euro-Crisis and the riots in London; Athens and Rome, and to reaffirm the importance of faith, family and responsibility (hard work) to the health of the republic.  We cannot have it both ways and still be considered a coherent republic which can maintain its status in the world.

A famous Churchill quote puts it quite succinctly…..”“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”  …Currently, the Democratic support of Occupy Wall Street organizations waxes eloquently about the unequal sharing of blessings by the rhetorical ‘one per-cent’.  They are mute, though, regarding how we can more equally distribute the ‘misery’.

We won’t know what’s in that bill until we read it.