Brave New World
The New Normal
When did 7.8% unemployment become the new normal? After 49 months above it? What happened to a “jobless recovery"?
Are we always to borrow $1 trillion a year? Will the national debt always rise, never decline? Did $4 a gallon gas become the new normal -- a small price to pay for more windmills and solar panels?
Suddenly, college is not the pathway to the upper-middle class, but a risky 50/50 proposition that just as likely can lead to a $100,000 plus, 8% student loan debt, no job, and five years in the parents’ spare bedroom. Who ever objected to tuition climbing at twice the rate of inflation? One day there were sparse dorms, and the next rock-climbing walls; one day deans and provosts who at least taught one class, the next diversity czars with scores of assistants. The more kids can’t pay for college, the more college looks like Disney World.
The new America is a society where 50% pay federal income tax, and for 50% April 15 is an occasion for a tax refund or credit. I grew up with my parents dreading the date; now I see signs offering all sorts of “tax refund” sales. When did disability insurance merely become an extension of unemployment insurance?
There Is No Media
About four years ago, the media just dissipated. Gone, buried. Did we notice our newsreaders are virtual government employees? The media is a Ministry of Truth where spokespeople vie for superlatives -- a living “god,” a man who creates tingles in our legs and is pictured as a “messiah” on our magazines. Each sermon is a new “Gettysburg Address,” each gesture is Lincoln’s, each new Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton part of the new Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals.”
Journalists are now Photoshoppers of news: Guantanamo once bad, now good; we all grew to stop worrying and to love Predators; renditions, the Patriot Act, and preventative detentions must have gone with George W. Goldstein.
Those noisy free-for-all press conferences are now like Xerxes’s court at Persepolis, where toadies compete with kowtows. “Investigative reporting” is how some reactionary, enemy-of-the-people hacks dig up dirt on a progressive like Sen. Menendez or Susan Rice. The video maker sitting in jail and the 16-year-old American who was vaporized were reactionary troublemakers -- and that is all ye need to know.
Brave, New World
Panta rhei -- “everything is in flux” -- Heraclitus says. The world we knew is not the one we wake up to after a short nap. January 2009 now seems like a far-off dream, in a way that 2016 may be a nightmare.
(Thumbnail on PJM homepage assembled from multiple Shutterstock.com images.)