Sometimes, I feel so low down and disgusted,
Can't help but wonder what's been happening to my companions.
Are they lost or are they found?
Have they counted the cost it'll take to bring down
All their earthly principles they're gonna have to abandon?
– Bob Dylan, Slow Train Coming
I'm not yet ready with a follow-up post on fabbers and small-scale manufacturing (I have to work a bit this weekend, just like last weekend), but I thought I'd comment on a couple of news stories I saw this weekend. There's the latest mainstream media report on backyard chickens, from USA Today: “Chickens come home to roost in backyards around the USA.” The article contains the usual photos of blond-haired children cuddling feathered “pets,” as well as listing the familiar benefits of increased food self-sufficiency.
But it also contains statements by politicians in various locales who oppose allowing city dwellers to have backyard chickens. Their objections are ostensibly about the potential for odor, nuisances, abandoned animals and unsanitary conditions. But Iowa City Mayor Regenia Bailey was quite a bit more honest about the real reasons for her opposition: her fears that the achieving of food self-sufficiency by city dwellers might undercut “regional” farmers in her state.
Then there's this article, “Saving The Bed-Stuy Farm,” about a New York inner-city urban farm that is now being threatened with demolition in order to make way for “affordable housing.” The trouble is that the farm has allowed many urban poor people to have inexpensive access to good, healthy food, whereas the “affordable” housing that threatens to replace the farm will most likely simply be “affordable” only in the initial terms of the loans issued to first-time buyers. The housing itself will probably be overpriced in terms of dollar amounts, and will require decades of payments in excess of $1000 a month for homeowners to pay off the loans they incur in order to buy this housing.
The icing on the cake is this item: “Senate Democrats Assured Of 60 Votes To Debate Health Bill.” The so-called health care “reform” legislation they are debating is not really about reform, but will require all Americans to buy health insurance. The only provision for any sort of publicly funded health care is the possibility that the Federal government might provide health “insurance” for people to buy. If the insurance industry can kill that provision, then “health care reform” will mean nothing more than forcing all Americans to give their money to private, for-profit insurance companies. These companies have embarked on a policy of raising their premiums at a rate that far exceeds the rate of inflation. The passage of this legislation will bankrupt large numbers of poor Americans.
The only real sort of health-care reform – a single payer system funded entirely by the U.S. Government – was never even considered by the people in Washington, who are much more interested in spending taxpayer dollars on bailing out gambling-addict mega-bankers, fighting unjust wars, and buying toys for the Department of Homeland Security, who now have their own police force patrolling the streets of major American cities like Portland, Oregon.
All of this is a sorry, yet accurate proof of a statement I made long ago on this blog, that we live and function under a corporatist system that forces as many people as possible into dependence on it, and that it actively opposes anyone who would create a safety net of alternative systems. Yet we seem to love it so. People I talk to at work don't pay much attention to politics or other deeper issues. Anymore, when I talk to them I can see the eyes of many of them glaze over. Maybe it's because they're lazy, or because they're scared of the unpleasant truths they'd have to confront if they did pay attention to deeper issues. Lately, I keep most of my thoughts entirely in my head.
I go to the store, and when I see the magazines in the magazine section, most of them are aimed at getting grown-up adolescents to buy stuff. When I get to the checkout counter, all of the magazines there are taken up with sex and celebrity – full of pictures of airhead doofus adolescent “grown-ups” consumed with their own “cuteness.” This is becoming true even at places like Whole Foods Market and New Seasons – stores which used to prominently feature magazines like Utne, Yes, Adbusters and Mother Jones. Even the so-called “progressive” flavor of mainstream media is increasingly used to maintain a corporatist status quo. The word “progressive” is being redefined to remove any threat to the continued concentration of wealth in the hands of an unrighteous few. The victims of these wealthy are increasingly left without a voice. Yes, there are blogs – but it seems at times that no one reads blogs.
Sometimes I feel so low down and disgusted...