THE GOOD CITIZENS’ LEAGUE had spread through the country, but nowhere was it so effective and well esteemed as in cities of the type of Zenith, commercial cities of a few hundred thousand inhabitants, most of which—though not all—lay inland, against a background of cornfields and mines and of small towns which depended upon them for mortgage-loans, table-manners, art, social philosophy and millinery.
To the League belonged most of the prosperous citizens of Zenith. They were not all of the kind who called themselves “Regular Guys.” Besides these hearty fellows, these salesmen of prosperity, there were the aristocrats, that is, the men who were richer or had been rich for more generations: the presidents of banks and of factories, the land-owners, the corporation lawyers, the fashionable doctors, and the few young-old men who worked not at all but, reluctantly remaining in Zenith, collected luster-ware and first editions as though they were back in Paris. All of them agreed that the working-classes must be kept in their place; and all of them perceived that American Democracy did not imply any equality of wealth, but did demand a wholesome sameness of thought, dress, painting, morals, and vocabulary.
In this they were like the ruling-class of any other country, particularly of Great Britain, but they differed in being more vigorous and in actually trying to produce the accepted standards which all classes, everywhere, desire, but usually despair of realizing. From Babbitt.1922. By Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951).
Since Lewis wrote Babbit there has been change. Which ruins the lazy though comforting – in a dark sort of way – the cliche that nothing really changes except the technology. There was a major blip in the narrative from the years of The New Deal to about the early 1980s. Work was rewarded even though the wealthy could still polish their lounge chairs with the backsides of their expensive suits while claiming to be job creators and a little better than the masses. Over, like just another new gadget the shine and novelty wore off this half achieved dream of egalitarianism – partly a resentment of the final nail in Jim Crow laws, the Civil Rights Act. Than Medicare won out over sacrificing the elderly to the gods of dog-eat-dog economics. Women got more uppity than ever demanding a place at the table. More resentment. Many Americans dared to question the judgement of a military industrial fever that presented Vietnam as a choice between patriotism and godless communism. That was the new age of False Choices. Were you with the pot smoking Jimi Hendrix listening hippies or were you with the guys who smelled like they bathed in Old Spice. Banking and fiance were professions. They were necessary, if unglamorous. A generation of gray flannel suits was born with restless poorly developed souls – of course they resented change. They dreamed of a return to something that never was – a crime free country, real men drink scotch, you didn’t get divorced -that was a sin and worse a social taboo, you sowed your oats, and oats need sewing of course, and had a nice respectable affair. Over the next couple of decades a new zeitgeist took hold. Never mind that the guys at the Country Club were taking home unearned and undeserved income in wheel barrows, some Puerto Rican women was getting a few dollars in free food, blacks were taking seats in the front of the bus and swimming in the same public pools. Women were …gasp demanding final say over their bodies and reproductive rights. Pay no attention to the people taking away your labor rights or sending your job to Asia. Buy a bundle of tube socks for a dollar and just be thankful. Norma Rae may have won the day, but we’ll show her and her like minded commie friends, close this factory and have all your sheets and towels by by actual communists half a world away. By 2008 the dream or nightmare had become the standard – Capitalism and the Mad Uncle in the Attic
Our current version of capitalism is good at generating more currency, not greater wealth. And we forget that currency is merely a surrogate for things of real value, with no tangible value in and of itself.
And even the currency isn’t being distributed equally. It’s being siphoned off by the richest and most powerful in a spiral of inequity.
It isn’t making us happy, it’s enslaving us to a life spent pursuing more and more stuff we don’t need for reasons we don’t understand. Bigger; more; faster becomes biggest; most; fastest. But easy, easier, easiest becomes fatter, sicker weaker.
It isn’t making us free, it’s creating a tyranny of the corporations and plutocrats. They weaken government in the name of freedom, only to turn us into indentured servants to a system that’s designed to take from the poor and middle class and give to the uber rich, even as it liquidates Earth’s treasures.
But the real tragedy isn’t our own alienation or our economic and spiritual impoverishment. It is the diminished legacy we leave the rest of humanity and indeed, the rest of the biosphere.
It’s our willingness to consume the future in an orgy of gluttony, drowning out the Mad Uncle’s protests with the noise of our own slurping, chewing, smacking, munching, crunching as we inhale our children’s birthright.
It is not that the more things change the more they stay the same. Rather it is the more the cycle turns the more we return to the days of feudal lords and a permanent underclass.
This car was actually a mechanical mash-up of cars done by Lloyd Templeton, with the help of his sons. In include parts from a Mercury, Chevy and a Pontiac. The hood was taken from a from a 1936 Chrysler and and the front grille is from a 1946 Dodge. The only reason it is called the Bob Hope Special is because it was going to be in one of his movies. More here.
Writing about writing has become a cottage industry on the net and in print. I just like this one because its inspired by the comic stripe by Charles Shultz – 6 Rules for a Great Story, Inspired by Snoopy.
Some – some residents seem to go out of their way to make the sate look like the western version of the Dark Ages, but Texas is not a terrible place – Where I Go: Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory. “When he’s not performing, Parsons escapes to his hometown of Houston for some Southern comfort—he lists off his favorite museums, Mexican food, and place to play darts.”
Assholes: The definition stays the same, but includes new ones to be one.
Fox’s Monica Crowley: “Kooks” In Democratic Party Have Taken U.S. “On A Socialist Joyride, Starting With” Obama. I got my right-wing conservative decoder ring when it fell out of a truck carrying some turnips so I can decode M’s Crowley for you. Lay down and let corporations take away any semblance of rights and individuality or she’ll call you bad names and play Ted Nugent records till your eardrums break.
The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia – How America’s biggest banks took part in a nationwide bid-rigging conspiracy – until they were caught on tape
The defendants in the case – Dominick Carollo, Steven Goldberg and Peter Grimm – worked for GE Capital, the finance arm of General Electric. Along with virtually every major bank and finance company on Wall Street – not just GE, but J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, UBS, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Wachovia and more – these three Wall Street wiseguys spent the past decade taking part in a breathtakingly broad scheme to skim billions of dollars from the coffers of cities and small towns across America. The banks achieved this gigantic rip-off by secretly colluding to rig the public bids on municipal bonds, a business worth $3.7 trillion. By conspiring to lower the interest rates that towns earn on these investments, the banks systematically stole from schools, hospitals, libraries and nursing homes – from “virtually every state, district and territory in the United States,” according to one settlement. And they did it so cleverly that the victims never even knew they were being cheated. No thumbs were broken, and nobody ended up in a landfill in New Jersey, but money disappeared, lots and lots of it, and its manner of disappearance had a familiar name: organized crime.
Conservatives consider reporting activities like this the same thing as beating an angel to death with a copy of Das Kapital.