Life on Pluto: Debt, Guns & Greed


It is simply due diligence to assign America the credit it rightly deserves for the mere lip service it pays to reality, rationality, and not incidentally, truth, as it sloshes around attempting, nominally, to govern itself. Indeed, operating at such remove from the tedious bounds of sanity is something to be proud of in a certain way. Yes, you propagandists of American exceptionalism, I concede, the place is pretty damned exceptional.

When it comes to those intolerable challenges of modernity, be they climate change, gun slaughter, health care or economics we do it our way. Steadfastly, we remain so bravely distant from other wealthy democracies in the manner in which we deal with all of our outstanding exigencies one can only admire that we do so with such bold and beautiful crazy insufficiency. Other nations, none of whom have anything remotely close to our level of gun homicides are home to insane people and to violent entertainment, they just don’t have the, uh, guns. Only here is it controversial to draw a direct conclusion from that. Only in America is it walking on the wild side of policy innovation to discuss the regulation of individual access to weapons of warfare for safety reasons. Yes, we live in a nation where proponents of arming everyone as a safety precaution are principals in the national debate, invited to august televised forums to declaim American history as vaudeville, and the mythology of cheap, paperback Westerns as safety policy.

For our Salvador Dali canvases of national discourse, for our relegation of empiricism and the tediousness of lessons derived from the storehouse of accumulated human knowledge to irrelevance, for our globally distinctive comfort living under plutocracy I hereby rename us Pluto.

Alas, the debt creators at last have discovered the root of all evil: debt! While Republican presidents double and triple deficits, throw surpluses out the window with lavish tax giveaways to lavishly rich Americans, all without a peep from those Republican hellhounds of hypocrisy and hari-kari economics in the peanut gallery, a Democratic presidency reduces them to wails and the gnashing of teeth over debt, while every American watching knows the bunch of slimy, sniveling, scenery-chewing dissimulators of humbuggery couldn’t care less about debt.

Only in America’s rarefied climate of problem-solving will an exotic species of anti-Enlightenment ideologues ruling the House of Representatives threatening the demolition of the world economy because of feigned concern for debt, be widely regarded as just another day at the Washington office, while unusual, yet legitimate remedies such as executive invoking of the 14th Amendment or the minting of the trillion dollar platinum coin are deemed TOO unusual. The uptake is that our flailing national debate is manifestly bananas by any rational measure of effective governance.

Admit it, but there is something fondly and warmly Disneyland about America discussing not the methods best for dealing with the ramifications of climate change, but whether there is such a thing as climate change. Indeed, it may be nothing if not quaintly American that our progressive president bequeaths us a budget deal sealing in 84% of the Bush tax cuts, along with sweetheart rates on dividends, and all but the abolition of the estate tax. In fact, one must face the actuality that it may only be one’s own constrained imagination that prevents one from seeing that in penalizing financial institutions peanuts for fraudulently and negligently foreclosing on millions of distressed mortgage-holders, or by perpetuating lucrative subsidizing of an array of high rollers in the fiscal cliff deal the banks and the global corporations are the little guy, and these solutions are touchingly Capraesque.

In any case, one cannot reasonably draw any conclusion other than that this is now a plutocracy beyond remedy, the fix is in, in cement, that the one percent and the financial and corporate sectors OWN the place. And observing the demented bread and circuses that pass for a democratic process now, with negligible if any import or effect whatsoever, one can say that at least they are more than serviceable as diversion for the population. In other words, the Plutonian future is, to paraphrase 28 Days Later, fucking nigh. Where else but America could you spend twice the amount of GDP on health care as every other industrialized democracy with universal health insurance, remain at the bottom of the international barrel in health care outcomes and still be sinking, yet entertain with credulity the pronouncement by an influential segment of the body politic that the nation enjoys “the best health care system in the world”?

Surely, as far as American history goes, this is an era that will live in infamy in the annals of clusterfucks.

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