The WWII generation is disappearing, dying of old age. The generation of those who experienced the Great Depression is virtually gone. And now baby boomers, who lived through one of the most turbulent, but most progressive recent era in the 1960s are now senior citizens. Successive generations have yet to see a truly progressive era and may not unless they bring it themselves.
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Recent events and this comment by Going the Distance got me thinking about where we've been and, even more importantly, where we, as a nation and planet are going. Here's the comment:
The assault on the Delta and California's water supply, the newly reported chemical spill on the Columbia River, the bogus justification for the Keystone Pipeline, the chemical spill in West Virginia, the crazy weather patterns with a warming planet (sorry deniers look at 20-year average temps), the political support for fracking (based on oil/gas industry talking point/lies), Devin Nunes trying to undo the Endangered Species Act to pump Northern California dry for almonds, and drought (without planning) throughout the West -- we are really setting ourselves up for a depleted, ugly, poverty-ridden world. Will people have to be dying in numbers in the streets for political leaders and the electorate to get it?Right now the majority of Americans never saw a progressive era. Never saw what happens when government acts on behalf of Americans rather than on behalf of the defense industries, fossil fuel companies, major corporations and the rich. Never saw what is possible when we, as a nation, decide to put the unemployed to work, to really work to end poverty and discrimination, to foster the best educational system and opportunities in the world, and to assist people in achieving a better life.
The Great Depression generation saw it happen as FDR regulated Wall Street and the Banks, put people to work building the infrastructure for this country, began to ensure that the elderly wouldn't live in poverty, and brought this country back from disaster.
The WWII generation saw it in the GI Bill where millions of service members could go to college, get a great job, buy a home, and raise a family comfortably. As a result, business boomed with all those customers who could afford their products and services.
The baby boomers saw it in the 1960s as we declared a war on poverty, ensured the civil rights of those whose rights had been denied far too long, ensured the right to vote, and Medicare was enacted. Medicare, which began as a means to provide universal health care to all Americans was successfully whittled down by Republicans to cover only senior citizens (Republicans like to claim that they voted for Medicare, but it was only the final vote on passage, when Medicare was going to pass without any Republican votes that a few in vulnerable states were allowed to vote for it). Everyone thought then that it would be a matter of time before it was expanded to cover everyone (it's 2014 and we're STILL waiting). Baby boomers also saw some expansion of equality, and educational opportunities like the National Defense Student Loan Program (which paid for college with a zero percent loan).
Since then we've been fed a steady diet of pro-business trade deals that succeeded in sending good jobs to slave wage countries for increasing corporate profit, deregulation, tax loopholes for the rich and corporate, and a continued lowering of taxes for corporations and the rich to the point that 25% of corporations and a huge number of the rich (Mitt Romney, I'm looking at you) don't pay any federal taxes at all while the rest of us "little people" continue to pay our share, kept just hungry enough to fall for the next promise of "tax cuts" that always materialize for the rich, not so much for anyone else. We've been told that taxes are bad and to be avoided rather than the reflection of the true cost of living in a civilized country.
Even now we're fighting for our own sovereignty which would melt away under the Trans Pacific partnership and siphon even more jobs from Americas grasp in order to put corporations fully in control with their profits over people agenda. And what corporate genius decided that paying so little to workers that they have even LESS customers for its goods and services was a great idea?
We've seen our environment fouled by pipeline leaks, toxic spills from train derailments or just plain old negligence, fertilizer factories blowing up entire neighborhoods, oil spills along our coasts, and just plain illegal dumping of toxins. We'll see more of this since the people responsible aren't prosecuted or put in jail. The most that ever happens is a fine, maybe, if the company doesn't immediately file for bankruptcy to avoid paying for the clean up. The same bunch that insists upon "personal responsibility" and decries "socialism" always shirks their own responsibility as they socialize the clean up and all of their losses onto everyone else.
We're seeing our climate change in front of our eyes, but keep on spewing carbon into our atmosphere at even more alarming rates. The sirens being sounded by scientists are being decried as mythology and efforts to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline are failing because of the money and power of the fossil fuel industry.
We're seeing an age where millionaire farmers and agribusiness gets government subsidies by taking food from hungry people in order to sustain their own Big Gubmint Welfare Check. And a time when there are 3 applicants for every miserable no benefits minimum wage job that becomes available, we're cutting off Unemployment Compensation.
We're seeing workers losing their rights, their benefits, any concern over their health and safety, and being paid wages low enough to drain whatever still exists as a social safety net. Taxpayers are this invisible subsidy to some of the richest corporations in the world in order to keep their workers alive. The unions that would have prevented or stopped this from happening are barely clinging to life as state after state strangles them out of existence and existing laws are unenforced or ignored.
We're seeing unnecessary wars being fought to defeat imaginary boogeymen because the truth, that the war is being fought for Oil Companies, wouldn't get much support. And that's not the worst of it. We saw billions of dollars in American currency (a pile of money large enough to see from space) just "disappear" after its arrival in the Middle East. We've also seen no-bid contracts where enormous profits were made even as soldiers were being electrocuted in showers because of shoddy wiring and construction so poor that it was never completed (yeah, nobody went to jail for those things either).
We've seen a time of bank robbery when the banks robbed all of us and totally got away with it. People lost their savings, college funds, retirement accounts, but the Banksters still got their bonuses on time and as big (or bigger) than ever.
We've seen Republicans move hard right and Democrats swarming in to inhabit the political space they vacated, but hardly anyone to inhabit the prior Democratic space that's now dusty and filled with cobwebs from disuse.
Today, we're fighting the old battles all over again - for equal rights, a womans rights to control her own body, voting rights, a social safety net, education, opportunity, and a decent minimum wage. It's as if the 1960s never existed or had been sent down the memory hole.
We need a new progressive era where Americans are served by a government that is in place to serve the people. A better age when this country can stand as an example of how much can be accomplished when we put our policies and effort into doing it. A more enlightened age where deep thoughts are encouraged and science is valued. An age when citizens are informed instead of propagandized, where high speed internet is cheap and available to everyone, where the public good comes first.
Most Americans living today have never seen one and the last of us who have are dying off. We need to be going there, to another progressive age that will endure, because the road we're on now leads no where.
Top Pictures for yesterday. Click any image to be taken to the full comment. Thank you jotter for the awesome image magic!