Crisis? What crisis?

The above headline was the name of an album by Supertramp, a fairly popular ’70s pop-rock group (Wikipedia called it “progressive rock,” which seems a bit of a stretch). The joke title referred (or so I thought) to an entirely different sort of crisis or set of crises – you had the energy crisis, with cars lined up around blocks waiting to gas up and pay a buck a gallon, outrageous at the time; you had the ever-brewing Cold War with the sting of defeat in Vietnam still fresh; you had Nixon embroiled in scandal and resigning in shame; you had pollution, and so on.

This time around we’re trying to recover from a the Great Recession and now 3-year-old financial debacle largely of our own doing in real estate and finance/banking/insurance; we just inched back from the edge of defaulting on our national debt this week; we still have stubbornly high unemployment, a fact that remains acutely painful to many Americans. We have ever-more strident opposing sides squabbling over whether raising taxes or cutting costs deeper and deeper is the solution to the federal deficit and debt, etc.

It all seems a tad forced. Contrived. Of course I’m not the first to notice this. We’ve heard “manufactured crisis” and similar phrases popping up a lot lately in the news. A little less shouting at the camera and a little more cooperation could fix a lot of these things. But that would be too simple. Nobody wants to be seen as ceding any ground. At all. The accursed media continue to look for “winners” and “losers” amid the brokering over this latest calamity-to-be. The media tend to serve as enablers for shouting heads who are looking for the most “did she really say that?” sound bite.  All parties involved seem more interested in protecting their interests than solving problems and making this country a better place for everybody. And the discourse just seems to be getting worse and worse. We don’t talk to or with one another. We shout at one another.

CEOs and billionaires and big corporations are doing GREAT! They’re making money by the bucketful. The rest of us? Eh, not so much.

Conservatives complain that the liberals want to “redistribute wealth” as if it’s a bad thing. Hell, the rich have been doing it for 30 years! Look at the stats. The rich have grown increasingly rich with the middle class and underclass falling further and further behind. The middle class continues to shrink. That’s redistribution of wealth – it’s trickling up, not down.

Can you blame the rich for wanting to keeps what’s “theirs”? Well, not really. I bet even your garden-variety limousine liberal doesn’t want to get too carried away with all this “crazy talk” of goosing the tax rate on the rich to 50 percent or more. Why, that would kill my dream of a third home in the Hamptons. Where will I store my yacht?

Of course the conservatives don’t trust Obama – that socialist nouveau riche kid from Kenya.* He simply doesn’t belong, as Judge Smails would have said in Caddyshack.

A few among the super rich – Warren Buffett and Bill Gates come to mind – are putting their billions toward improving the world, but too many of them haven’t asked themselves, How much is enough?

Me, I’d settle for an even billion. I think I could live on that. I might even become a “job creator.”

* This is a joke, of course. Obama isn’t from Kenya. He’s from Indonesia. 


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