Archive for January, 2011

January 23, 2011

Competitiveness – prove you are no slacker now boys

Ok, President Obama has really gone over the edge. He has named the king of outsourcing to be the head of the US Council of Economic Advisers and also given a policy directed economic speech titled, “We can out compete any other nation.” Really? Is that what we think our stagnant job, manufacturing and innovation sectors need to recover? But to be fair, lets actually look at what he says, you know I’m a fan of the Pres, he’s a brilliant thinker and politician. He talks about how we are going to create 235,000 US jobs with China for $185 Billion. That is a drop in any bucket of investment and job creation, but we can expect another 72 thousand jobs from deals with Korea and India. Still these are not even approaching the millions of jobs needed to get people back to work. So really what is the point? That the US is the face of global capitalism and our competitors will end us and we’ll loose it all unless we get in the game now. That is all he’s really saying.

His speech is kind of a pep talk and an infomercial for GE. Pardon me, but I thought that the government was not supposed to favor any particular corporation or business. Oh right,  that’s a myth because from the DuPonts,to Haliburton and many others including JP Morgan Chase, the US govt is the best corporate customer ever. We buy their services, their goods and their line about how what is good for corporate America is good for Americans. Thanks Madison Ave and other corporate marketing leaders who have spent the past 100 or so years getting their message out so most Americans never even consider that life could be good or better without our corporate giants. They lead, they create, they crush and they collapse. Even the mightiest companies have come and gone – we should not let them drag the rest of us along anymore.

Well where many of us come from in the US big corporations and the financial elite are the minority. We don’t know them and folks like the good Pres seem the same, all rich, all educated all far, far away. But what regular people are mad about is that decision making by the elite seems to have nothing to do with the getting by day to day and taking care of folks that need care life we live here at home, you have all heard about Main Street right?   According to the Pres countries around the world are upping their game, and we can win the competition and outcompete other countries. Opening new markets to US products, that’s funny since we outsourced all our good jobs over past 30 years that will now be brought back to the states as poor broken down jobs and folks are desperate enough to take them. Cleverer and cleverer.

Much of this framing the imperialist position as some kind of game is an attempt to trivialize the unhealthy and inorganic nature of control by the elites. The elites believe what is best for them and their class and their ability to achieve such a vaulted status is a reflection of their intrinsic worth and goodness. What  a delusion, that life is a game – there are certainly game like aspects to life, but for the majority of souls on this planet life is a drudgery, a burden, filled with poverty and loss. And for many Americans who lived and expected to continue their middle class lives that is gone for them, a nice memory of a time when the many shared a piece of the vast wealth created by those who could.  In the 2011 age of who can – the race to create fortresses of wealth and power are driving the elite to capture more of our income and control the debate about that through the crappy world of sports metaphor. That is how the liberal elite attempt to make their own elitism more egalitarian, yes they can talk about sports. Regular people and their betters can discuss football stats and baseball trades and college hoops. That makes it better right, we are all in the game of capitalism together and our empire depends on your desire and ability to get out there and compete for what? For Democracy? For Freedom? For Human Rights? For Food?

But don’t think me just an outsider, a poor done well type naysayer, I”ve been in this debate most of my life. Well at least I came to the sports metaphor as life very young because my Dad was a jock and school coach. So I spent time in and around sports from birth. Yes I like to say that growing up in my home was kind of like a gym locker room. Naked people walking around, I saw more dick growing up than most girls. There was no sexual issue – that’s just how guys are and you guys know what I”m talking about.

Wow but now we are living in a great big man cave of a world. Not only do we have another man to tell us how best to run our economy, we also are being forced to listen to the sports metaphors ad nauseum. Great job guys – we went from Hope and Change to Afghanistan and Corporate Authority wrapped up in the language of games. I suppose one thing we can say for the new international financial elite, they haven’t yet invoked the right of kings again, but I’ll be expecting a version of that to appear soon.

January 11, 2011

Mental Health – is America successful?

We Americans like to think of ourselves as successful. That sounds good and means we do well as defined by some pretty specific modern information age standards. So that makes us all subject to these standards of success in our society now, and for many its simply being able to get into the military, going to college, having children or getting a decent job? What if you are a young person who is over 21 and looking for a job today? And what if you also have a mental illness and need medication or treatment? How can you ever become a success.

That is what Jared Loughner faces and that is what many families are dealing with in their own homes. A child that has some problems becomes seriously debilitated because college, the workplace or the military don’t give the support they have had keeping them in balance. Some of our children have committed suicide or become serious addicts and many more simply live on the fringes with fewer and fewer friends and contacts. Often the diagnosis of the more serious mental health condition is not timely so treatment is delayed by years leaving the individual at risk of further harm. The young adult often falls into despair and their condition deteriorates leaving them unable to participate in day to day life.

Do many or more young people suffering this way buy a dangerous weapon and commit mass murder? No, this is rare and tragic.  But many of the young people are lost either because they become permanently psychotic or can not function unless extremely medicated.  So we need must start helping  people before they seriously harm themselves or others.  Psychiatry and mental health professionals must help us advocate for multiple therapeutic measures for the best mental health outcomes.

Please don’t blame Jared’s parents. There is a huge amount of pressure to keep the family members at home and take care of them so they don’t get abused by the state or go homeless. That makes home life difficult and unpleasant and family members need support and respite from these duties.  Jared is also legally and adult and his parents may have been afraid of him or completely in denial about his disease.  Either way – having a mentally ill adult child living at home is difficult if near impossible. I’m sure they are heart-broken for the victims.

We have to stop being such a superficial society and start making adequate provisions for our mental health care system. As a culture we must invest in the best medical, mental and food systems for the entire population. Allowing the current system of mental health care to continue is clearly is irresponsible – because it does not meet the needs of America.  Our children deserve better, if we can prevent a major psychotic break leading to murder or suicide it would be worth any cost.