Friday, March 25, 2016

The Sort of Good News: We Can Live Our Lives About the Same as We Always Have

Or can we? We're a little broker, a little more anxious, and less sure about the future. But still...

My family in the 50s and 60s was never like this. So what are my good old days?

I know that my age group -- early baby boomer -- has dodged a bullet or two. Many of us retired on pensions and bought into the housing market before the housing booms and are still living in them. Others of us had the good sense or good luck to play the booms to our advantage.

Our children are a mixed bag, but some of us got our children through college and into good jobs in growth industries. For some of us, it was just in the nick of time.

Sure, the country has gone gun-crazy, but I live in a small, relatively well-off, educated town in Northern California. I often say I live in my own little Denmark, the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm sure there are plenty of gun owners around -- hell, Ben Affleck, noted Hollywood liberal, declared on Bill Maher that he's packing, and Maher nodded, "me, too" -- but here in Sonoma County we've haven't seen many militias roaming the streets.

I know that the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer, but my taxes are about the same. I wish our roads weren't so pot-hole-riddled, but the city, county, and state keep up as best they can. I have a better car than I did when if was 25.

I still shop at Safeway, only I buy less beef and eat more kale, you know the drill. I walk, exercise, or play golf as many days a week as I can. Life doesn't suck, not at all.

There's terrorism -- here in America, it's white, gun-toting, far-right extremists or the mentally ill we should fear -- but mostly that's in Europe and the Middle East. Our chances of getting blown up in the U.S. is close to nil.

If Donald Trump were elected president, heaven forbid, or Ted Cruz even, I doubt my lifestyle would change. Even if they didn't raise a finger to fight climate change, it's possible our goose is cooked already. They indeed might carpet-bomb Syria, or saber-rattle with Iran, and generally provoke Muslims. They could even refill Guantanamo Bay. We've alienated a couple of generations of Muslims already, so what's the dif?

But one thing as parents and grandparents we should be concerned about, beyond whether our lives will play out somewhat like we expected or hoped for, is the world we leave behind. What would that world look like?

A socialist like Bernie Sanders would actually try to give us our own Denmark or Sweden, which is not a bad thing at all. Income inequality is not nearly as severe there, and there's a reason the Danes are the most contented citizens on the planet. Sure they pay high taxes, but they're in their motherland's arms from cradle to grave. Poverty is near impossible in their nations, and that's better than having a choice between getting lucky and ending up like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or getting unlucky and ending up poor in Flint with your children drinking lead for breakfast.

A centrist liberal like Hillary Clinton wouldn't be so obviously Scandinavian, but she would work toward social and income equality nonetheless. I'm somewhat concerned about her bellicosity, but then I've always thought that she believes if she said, "I am woman, hear me declare peace," she'd never get elected to the presidency of a nation that thrives, sorry to say, on a near constant state of war. So I have hope she'll be even less war-centric than Barack Obama, who's done his best to back off the war throttle.

As for centrists, hell, there are no centrists.

As for the Republican Party, there are no center-right politicians anymore. The Tea Party made sure of that. In fact, it's really a joke on America that George W. Bush feels like a centrist after what has transpired politically since he left office.

The Tea Party "patriots," where they don't hold sway, have enough juice to frighten centrists into declaring themselves the most conservative conservatives you've ever seen. All Republicans must now agree that
  • taxes must be cut for jobs, jobs, jobs,
  • unions must be destroyed for business, business, business,
  • the minimum wage must never be raised,
  • health care can never be a right,
  • the Confederacy was more of a heritage than a calamity that fighting for slavery forced on the South,
  • guns make us safer, safer, safer, so more, more, more,
  • climate changes, who knows, what the hell,
  • immigrants are bad for our country, even if they do the jobs we don't want to do (and all of us are the descendants of immigrants),
  • the poor are poor because they are a bunch of slackers and losers who drink lead for breakfast,
and so on.

There's one thing about living our lives and going through our days pretty much the way we always have, with our parents sending us to college, which gave us the skills and wits to succeed, and us sending our children to college, which gave them the skills and wits to succeed: Those days are coming to an end.

Many of us will get by to the end of our days. We don't live in in a poor or mismanaged state like Louisiana, Kansas, even Wisconsin, where the infrastructure of success is degrading daily, so that "lives about the same as they always have been" is no longer guaranteed.

The I've-got-mine-screw-you philosophy we see in the Republican Party may have turned them into snakes eating their own tails. Let's hope so. Otherwise, well, you know the rest.

There is one other possibility: Our kids, the millennials, who seem more progressive, will change things for the better, and slowly make the needed changes, save the planet, and stop the war machines. Damn, I hope so.

Wow. Then maybe our kids could live lives about the same as we always have, and maybe their kids, and so on. That would sort of be good.

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