Outside the Whale: The House Always WinsBy Tanya Willow
At this year’s Annual Town Meeting, Article 37 deals with abandoned properties. Not so long ago, who would have thought that such an article would be needed anywhere in our state or even in the East Coast, never mind in a town like Canton?
The housing crisis is something that’s not easy to understand. From the Right we hear it was the Clinton Administration’s fault — that the liberals wanted everybody to own a home, relaxing lending standards so that “less desirables” were able to get loans, thus dragging responsible people into the Great Recession. It is true that banks operated under increasingly relaxed lending practices, lobbied by the lending institutions themselves so that large banks, like Bank of America, could make as many loans as possible, bundle them under false protections, and sell them off to state pensions and the like as an attractive investment. But of course the mortgage defaults set in, the insurances to protect on defaults were bogus, yet the bankers who created the crisis got bailed out and the mortgage holders and pension investors and the taxpayers got stuck.
Old news. The scary news is that “Citizens United” — the legal whoring system where legislators prostitute themselves for campaign dollars in exchange for corporations dictating taxation and regulations — is going to make the deregulation of the banking system look like the baby steps Dick Cheney took while cutting his dirty-trick teeth under the Nixon administration. As one friend said to me when connecting these dots, we are going to start looking like Argentina.
The money in Washington that’s needed to get elected is staggering. I no longer bother to send my ridiculous $25 to candidates, the absurdity of it now clear. I’m better off taking my pathetic 25 bucks to one of the inevitable casinos that’ll open up soon in a town near you and placing it on the blackjack table. Getting something for doing nothing is what the fast exchange of money is all about — it’s the American way. When one pyramid scam fails, deregulate and legalize another. Banks gambling on bundling brought disaster, so now we are looking to casinos to save us — literally betting on a house of cards for jobs and tax revenue. But voters have to understand that when those we work for control who we vote for, the House always wins.
In this election year Obama talks of the return of the car industry in an attempt to make us feel that America is back on track. Meanwhile, amongst the abandoned properties, 50,000 stray dogs roam Detroit. I remember when I went to Puerto Rico in the early 1990s I was shocked by all the stray and dead dogs in the streets. I thought, this is what happens when you have a dysfunctional government. That of course was before Detroit and New Orleans. Now the dysfunctional government is Mainland USA.
I recently visited the home of my tax accountant and braced for what I owe. I’m working class, so naturally I’m heavily taxed. She spoke to me as if she were breaking bad medical news to a patient. As she explained why I owed so much, my mind wondered. I thought if we might soon return to the maligned “progressive tax” system, only reflecting our current values, where the less you earn, the higher your taxes. So if you earn under 25K a year, you’re taxed at 50 percent. Between 25 and 75K, 40 percent, with your taxes going down at intervals until you hit $2 million, where you’ll need all your money to create valet and shoe-shiner jobs, so you go tax-free. We can call it the “Income Incentive Program” where the government rewards you for making more money. It sounds like an absurdity, but I can see it getting traction in some Republican campaign, Rush endorsing it and the working class cheering it on.
A congressman on NPR’s “This American Life” said he needs to raise $15,000 a day to stay in office. If a person needed $15,000 a day for his drug addiction we’d all know he’d have to commit crimes to sustain it. The same is so for congress, only we’ve made Washington’s criminal behavior legal. It would be as if it were legal for a drug addict to break into your home and take your stuff to support his habit, but Washington’s crimes to sustain the corporate/legislator prostitution ring are actually less honest because crimes are committed against you, but you don’t even know you’ve been taken.
The Right’s resurrection of Ayn Rand’s world of “winner takes all” as reflected in her most influential disciple, Alan Greenspan, is a value we continue to embrace despite the obvious consequences. Any sharing or mercy is deemed socialism and weakness. My most vulnerable friends hate “Obama Care,” the very people who could most benefit by it. They are sprayed with Rush and Fox and anger and hate until they can no longer see their own best interests.
I forget where I read it, but someone described the former Soviet Union as a place of utter depression, where its populace roamed in a state of hopeless despair. Here, we are not so much depressed as we are terrified. We see how a job loss can quickly equal home foreclosure, something extremely rare until this recession. We look at our retirements and see there is less money in it than the dollars we contributed after years of investments. Clever fees and systems beyond our working class understanding nibble away at our life savings, and we have been robbed, though we don’t quite know by whom or how. We fear joblessness. We fear retirement. We fear the vulnerability of age. We fear the future. And yet we malign the very social safety nets that pad the devastation of these inevitabilities.
Maybe it’s because, as Americans, we are indoctrinated to believe we are not part of the super vulnerable but part of the super strong — the one who will emerge as the winner of the “Hunger Games.” That we are faster, stronger, smarter, and when necessary, even more ruthless than those around us, making us believe in our inevitable success. As Americans we tend to lean toward an inflated view of self, fantasizing about our future stardom and clever plans, eagerly waiting for the day when the world will appreciate and pay us dearly for our unique talents. Our pitiless politics reflects our self-deception, until time sweeps away our delusions and we are left with the consequences of our collective arrogance.
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