Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Robert's Rules of Revolt

I remember January 15, 1991. I was cashiering at the Rathskeller, the restaurant/cafeteria in the Memorial Union on the UW-Madison campus. It was just after the lunch rush. I think Jai-Yi was working with me. We were sitting there catching our breaths when John Peek came out and said in a half-pissed, half-scared voice, "I just thought you might like to know we're strafing Baghdad right now."

The news I'm seeing tells me there are 10,000 GIs surrounding Fallujah right now. This is what political capital buys, apparently; an insane raid on the metaphorical corner the Iraqi resistance has been backed into. And this will stop terrorism? This will ensure free elections? We can't even pull one of those off here.

The holy war fixation on Iraq is killing this country. Think the "moral values" implication of four more years of W are scary?* Think about the economy. I work for a small manufacturing company, and the cold hard facts are that materials costs are out of control. There are a lot of factors causing this, and oil is one, but the real problem isn't assigning blame; it's that Bush won't acknowledge there's a problem. Manufacturers are being squeezed, and the recession we are trying to come out of is going to be a depression if it isn't addressed, and soon. 85% of the U.S. economy is services now, did you know that? You can't sustain an economy with that little manufacturing. More people are going to lose their jobs, and ironically, many of them are the same people who were too scared to vote for Kerry. And if it's a cold winter, those people are going to be in even more trouble. Natural gas is scarce right now, and prices are going to get higher. While our attention is on multiplying the number of people who hate us, the housing market is heading for a collapse and health care is in crisis. Why wasn't any of this being talked about during the campaign?

How about the fact that the European Union is now driving the world economy? The number of "U.S." companies that have been bought up by the Europeans is staggering, and the Euro's value has increased by fifty percent since it was introduced. What happens if OPEC decides to make the Euro the standard instead of the fading dollar? I'll tell you what. Argentina.

I'm still grappling with the implications of all of this, but I am terrified for the viability of this country. Do I sound like a Cassandra? Remember the oil crisis of the Seventies. Remember the Depression. And that's the other thing; the New Deal got this country through the Great Depression without everything collapsing. But with the deficit as enormous as it is, how could this government fund a similar effort if it is needed? It couldn't. The Gulf War happened again, and it went worse the second time. If the Depression repeats, what will the consequences be?

Four years ago I joked about moving to Canada. This is not a joke anymore. Aside from the very real and present dangers of Bush's "moral values" being imposed on all of us who aren't born-again addicts, I'm afraid of events unfolding in such a way that we won't even recognize this country. I'm not sure I want to be here when that happens. Yeah, yeah, love it or leave it. I love a lot of things about this country, but if all the people I love weren't here I'd be scouring the job rolls in Norway or Spain or something. I want to stand and fight, but how? I really don't know how.

*They are, don't get me wrong.


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