Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hard not to be depressed

about where this country is headed.  We're currently having two debates in Washington about how horrible our deficit is, and thus we need to tighten our belt by doing things like ending unemployment extensions, but we're also deciding that tax cuts, which are completely not paid for and ballooning the deficit, well, those need to be extended.  The party on the ascendancy is riddled by insane ideas -- that we can fight wars forever and have a gigantic defense budget with no apparent consequences; that gay people shouldn't even be allowed to serve in the armed forces, unless they choose to live a lie; that, apparently, scientists around the globe are either involved in some vast conspiracy or are just incredibly stupid, because the idea that releasing tons of CO2 into the air might have consequences is ridiculous; that there are large swathes of people living in this country who, because of the language they speak, the religion they practice, or the city they live in, are not "real" Americans.  It is depressing.

It is depressing that there is 10% unemployment but Wall Street continues to hum along, with finance taking up as big a (completely non-productive) role in the economy as ever, that our best students are choosing jobs playing poker with other people's money rather than working to improve anyone's lives but their own.  It is depressing that the middle class in this country continues to shrink as we start to look more like a banana republic in our income distribution.  It is depressing that the unemployment rate for black men is 16.3% and white men 8.9%.  It is depressing that the only countries that execute more people than the US are China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, while Pakistan and Yemen nip at our heels for 4th place.  It is depressing that we are but two years removed from electing someone who saw these things, was depressed by them too, but was unable to do anything about it.