How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Seques… Sequestra… Sequestering
Someone once said, “Politics loves a vacuum. It sucks.” I heartily and hardily agree. I swore I’d give up any interest in politics after Obama got elected, the triumph over racism and “the politics of stupid” (B. Jindal) more important than any specific details of policy. A law is only as good as the interpretation of it and the ability to enforce it anyway. The politics of the last four years have certainly brought out the worst of the US, but that’s not Obama’s fault. He’s done what’s needed, for the most part. It’s not his fault that half the country is racist. Blaming him for racism is like blaming doctors for AIDS. Republicans have no monopoly on that aspect of the human condition, though, and Americans are hardly the worst of the lot, anyway, and possibly the best, a country without any racial diversity hardly in a position to judge, and some European states otherwise the most liberal of the lot, suddenly quite intolerant when skin color is the issue.
Misogyny and homophobia are other ‘hate’ issues and must be fought to the death, the suppression of females my only beef (no pork) with Islam, in fact, which otherwise stands head and shoulders with the best of the world’s religions, maybe even better in that it has aspects of them all and doesn’t insult scientific knowledge by reducing its figureheads to figureheads. Human images for worship are prohibited by Islamic law, and anthropomorphic images of an Islamic God do not exist. Maybe they help provide focus for prayer, but then people carry the premise to its logical conclusion that God must be a person, yeah right. Islamic fundamentalists are hideous, certainly, but then so are Christian and Jewish fundamentalists, also. And they all have the same God! Yes they do, Mr. Baptist, monotheistic Religions 101.
Muslims indeed have a Judeo-Islamic tradition probably more extensive than any Judeo-Christian one. It only became complicated with the relatively recent advent of European Jewry and the complicated politics of how to divide the pie of central Europe. It’s all about dignity, for better or worse, the Israel-Palestine issue little more than that, best exemplified in Israel’s demand for verbal recognition of its right to exist, empty words on empty paper. The important thing for them is that the Philistines grovel first. The Palestinian argument is simple: ‘get off our land.’ The Israeli argument is equally simple: ‘kiss our asses first. And btw, we were here 1000 years ago.’ True, but… they weren’t there first. Are we all supposed to go back to where we were at some arbitrary point in time 1000 years ago? Indignities must be shared to become the non-issues that they truly are.
The legitimate issues of politics are the ones of macro-economics, defense and the role of government. In this case the big issue in the US right now is the budget. Here I might have to break ranks with some Demos who’ve fallen victim to the sketchy Reaganomics of ‘growing the economy’ out of its budget problems. True, that can work at certain periods of history where the economy has been overly shackled and is not keeping up with economic realities on the ground, but not after thirty straight years of low-tax high-profit welfare for the rich. I know that the poor have never had it better, all over the world; that’s true, but that says more about how bad it was in the past and our modern twitter-feed abilities to access the entire globe in the present than it does about any noblesse oblige on the part of the gentry. And I realize that ours is not a hereditary class of the wealthy, not in the US at least, not yet.
But the fact remains that the US has a higher disparity of wealth distribution than almost any other developed country in the world—except South Africa, of course—and there’s only one reason for that: the system is skewed. Laws made by the rich tend to favor the rich. “They’re the job creators,” the GOP say. “They deserve the wealth they create.” I see a lot of workers creating that wealth, also. Nevertheless, the budget has to be balanced, or close to it, anyway. Using a bit of credit can be a good idea, in fact, instead of money sitting idle, especially in times of low interest rates. An employee once explained to me that if he can get some credit and buy the thing he wants first, then he has something to work for. I’d never thought of that. To me, it’s slavery. The fact that those workers will forever be a part of a Nietzschean underclass does not concern him, nor should it me. Those workers choose that, just like the merchant class chooses the opposite, to forego some present benefits for long-term progress.
China is conquering the world just like that, one mom-and-pop grocery at the time, all over the world, “leading from below,” if you will, and I applaud them. They are doing what needs to be done, without guns and without (much) politics, spreading around the world and developing it one city at the time, something the US and the West used to do and can only dream of now. The fact that they are possibly the most racist people in the world is another issue. Still the economics of balancing your budget is solid; just look at Europe. There was a time when someone like me could at least consider the GOP a viable option, on the basis of economic policy, if they’d just stay out of everyone’s underpants and religion. But the economic argument needs to be consistent. That’s the attraction of the Libertarians—not to be confused with the Tea Party—and I’ll admit that attractiveness. Theirs is a real alternative to both the Democratic and GOP biz-as-usual of trying to create the world in their own corporate image—usually failing—and spilling a lot of blood in the process.
That’s why sequestration is like a dream to me, and to actually cut the monster military budget by a sizeable notch is
worth all the hassle easily. If that inconveniences some truly needy people, then I’m sorry. Do you grow your own food? No? Then you should. Nobody is out of work who grows their own food. Democrats are going to have to make concessions on Social Security. There’s nothing sacred about the age sixty-five. What was the average life expectancy when Social Security first became law? It’s an insurance policy, not a savings account. Anybody who relies on that and nothing else for retirement is pretty lame, figuratively I hope. If you’re truly lame, then the government should truly help, but half the country shouldn’t have to carry the other half on its back, and that includes financial speculators, too. CEO’s should be tested for drugs before receiving any aid, too.
Bottom line: the environment is the only politics I’m interested in at this point. The future of human civilization is at stake and too few people seem to care. It is a simple fact of evolution that this species has probably never happened before nor will necessarily happen again. If any species is truly special, and I’d reckon more than a few are, then ours certainly is, too. The question is academic. It is a simple moral imperative of life to preserve itself; first yourself, then your family, then your species, and ultimately your civilization. If that means somebody has to give up their iPhone, then so be it; ditto—and especially—your Hummers and Hoovers. Sweep the floor; ride your bike. Who should take the credit or the blame for the miracle or the disaster we have wreaked upon ourselves? Capitalism, probably, that great never-ending equation that creates and destroys at one and the same time. No one really knows how it works, you know; something about ‘feeling good,’ I think.
But until we can base an economy on something besides fossil-fuel consumption, then economies have no right to pursue more than 2% growth, just enough to prevent collapse in a system that requires growth, by definition. The only things that may save us at this point are the very things that we fun-loving Americans fear most—communism, religious fundamentalism, or maybe sequestration. Take your pick; sequestration sounds better all the time. But let’s change the name; it sounds too much like something is being amputated, and tossed away. I call it ‘sequestering.’ That way it sounds like a game, like maybe hide-and-seek… or peek-a-boo… or ‘show me yours (poem, pet puppy, purple berries, etc.), and I’ll show you mine.’ Just don’t chop anything off, please. Me, I prefer sequestering myself in Mexico on a remote beach with a view of the ocean and all the pescado I can eat. The only climate change I’m worried about here is when it will be warm enough to swim in the ocean.
Hardie Karges is the author of one travel narrative and two hostel guides. For more information see here: