I think I’ve actually been grieving for my country.
I know, that sounds really dramatic but hear me out here. I don’t think it’s what you think it is. It isn’t because of Trump. He’s just the icing on the cake. He might be what amounts to the last straw for me, or maybe he’s near the last and who the fuck knows what we’re in for next.
When I read political arguments, I’m usually only seeing people looking as far back as Obama. In rare cases, I’ll see people skipping Bush entirely (which doesn’t make any sense at all) and pointing to Bill Clinton. For me though, the shit really started with Richard Nixon. That seems to be when the train to hell really got rolling.
I’d love to go into the reasons for this belief, but most people these days haven’t got the attention span for that. It’s not something I could explain in one paragraph, or even one page, or in fifty pages. There is a LOT to it. The US has been very, VERY busy meddling in the affairs of other governments for a very long time, and it’s all finally coming back to bite us in the ass. Exactly how we got to this point is quite the confusing, convoluted mess. I sometimes have to sit down and write shit down, drawing up little timelines just to make sense of it.
Doing a bit of research on your own, you could muddle through it in an afternoon and have a decent grasp on the state of this country. Start by googling the relationship between oil and the US dollar, the history behind that, and then move into exactly how the US dollar currently maintains it’s supposed value. If you can set aside any blind patriotism you might have, and try to look at things objectively, you’ll begin to understand what is really going on in the world, and just how fucked the US is if it’s people don’t pull their heads out of their asses and re-take their country.
No, electing a good president is not going to fix a fucking thing. You’re starting at the wrong end of the pyramid there folks.
Anyway, back to the Nixon administration, and the 1970’s. Economically, the US was at it’s peak then. In spite of all of our technological advances since, we have been on a slow, steady decline. That is, as a whole, as a nation, we have been on the decline. A small group of people that is now referred to as the 1%, they’ve been doing better and better, and the media has been doing a fantastic job of making us think that because they’re doing better, so are the rest of us.
We’re not. The average American family is only one paycheck away from total financial disaster.
Most families don’t have much of anything in the way of savings. Most families are upside down in their finances, owing tremendously more than they’re worth (economically speaking). It may not appear that way because a lot of people, myself included, live in decent houses, have numerous personal computers, gaming/entertainment devices, massive flat screen TVs, several vehicles, etc, etc… That standard of living however, is quite shallow, and quite fragile. I will explain why.
Speaking for my own family, all of our value is tied up in our home, which we still owe quite a bit on. Looking at the market, our home is worth a decent amount more than what we owe on it. That difference is commonly referred to as “equity”. The last time we tallied things up, our equity was somewhere between four and five times more than what we owe in other debt, such as small personal loans and credit cards.
Now, so long as the market doesn’t crash again (which is imminent, I fucking promise you), we’re doing alright. If we wanted to, we have a reasonably decent chance of selling our house, paying off the loan on it, and using the profit from that to pay off that miscellaneous debt, and then still have a little bit left over to move into some shitty apartment somewhere. In any case, as it stands, we have a positive net worth. Not much of one, but it’s there.
In that regard, we are miles ahead of the average American family right now, which is a sad statement.
However, that is a very fragile condition, for several reasons. Chiefly, that condition depends on the state of the US market. If housing prices were to crash again (again, going to happen soon) we’d end up in big trouble. How much trouble depends on how far the price of our home dropped. If things drop like they did in 2008, we could find ourselves close to $100K in the hole, literally over night. As long as we both hung onto our jobs, we could weather such a collapse and probably recover in a few years.
Again, that sounds all fine and dandy, right? You’d be wrong again. With no savings, and nothing else of concrete value to fall back on, we’d eventually find ourselves back at zero again. Zero, as in owing about as much as we’re worth. If we were both in our early to mid-twenties, that wouldn’t really be a big deal. We are not in our mid-twenties.
See, this already happened to us once, in 2009, except it didn’t go well. Not at all. The value of our house plummeted. Only a few weeks later, I lost my job, as did a staggering number of other Americans. We spent the next year burning through our savings, then my retirement, trying to hang on to our house, which we ended up losing to foreclosure anyway when all of that ran out. Indeed, the system is designed so that what would have made much more financial sense, would have been to shirk our responsibilities regarding our home loan, and just stopped making the payments as soon as I lost my job. We would have come out of that whole ordeal in a lot better shape than we did.
That was 2010, and we lost everything. I eventually found another, good job, one somewhat more secure than the one I lost, but we started off at zero again, this time in our thirties. In a few weeks, I’ll be forty-one years old. My current retirement plan has me retiring some time in my 70’s, right around the age that, statistically speaking, most American men die. Again though, that all depends on the US economy managing to stay viable until after I die, which isn’t likely under the current conditions. In all likelihood, I will work full time, in debt, until I die. Even that is optimistic, because most American men are nearly unemployable after the age of sixty, due to health concerns and the way our dumb-ass insurance/health care system works. If I lost my job after sixty, without a savings or some kind of retirement plan, neither of which would cut it at that point… I don’t even fucking know what what would happen then. I can say that I’ve seen America’s public nursing homes, and they’re fucking scary folks. They’re limping along on social security, medicaid and medicare, all of which will be long gone by the time I would become illegible for any of them. Again, shit is bleak for the vast majority of my generation, and the generations following.
The fact is that my parents’ generation was the last American generation to actually live the American dream. The rest of us are surviving entirely on debt, and that isn’t sustainable for very much longer.
It’s not a pretty picture, and it’s the one that most Americans are seeing right now. Instead of working together to deal with the real enemy, the real cause of all of these problems, we’re lashing out at each other and getting more divided every day.
I could go on for pages, hours, about what I think is in store for this country but it would basically just be me, standing in a park, pants-less, wearing only a white t-shirt, yelling at trees, and flipping off little kids.
No one would pay any attention because they would think I was crazy.
But looking at all of this, having been neck deep in the reality of it at one point, and seeing it coming at us again, I’m having a very difficult time seeing the USA as anything but lost. I grieve for my country.