By David Joel Miller.
Has democracy outlived its usefulness?
Recent events, not just here in the United States but worldwide, have me wondering if the idea that decisions should be made to benefit everyone might be an idea whose time has come and gone.
Across the globe, there seems to be a movement toward strong leaders who can take control of the population.
Strongmen everywhere seek to convince the population the elite need to rule.
Is it possible that ending slavery was a mistake?
Is economic slavery any less oppressive?
Shouldn’t the rich and powerful be entitled to more?
We are barely ten years past the last financial crisis and already were moving back towards the good old days when the banks could charge high interest, charge you for accounts you didn’t open and foreclose at will. As a societal value, the ability of the large banks and corporations to make huge profits seems more important than protecting the wage earner from financial ruin.
The conventional wisdom now appears to be that the rich need to make thousands of times what the average person makes. The emphasis seems to be on enriching those who have and illuminating “wasteful programs” aimed towards those who have the least. To maximize the benefits to society, they cut the taxes on people who are paid by corporations and trust while attempting to reduce the wages, in real terms, of those who try to exist on minimum age. The giveaway to corporate interests is permanent. The tax cut for the middle class looks like a temporary bribe and will expire in a couple of years.
To pay for the perks of the wealthy, those in power propose to reduce the programs for the neediest. Why waste money on food stamps, disability payments, services for children and homeless when we can increase the availability of expensive furniture, first-class travel, and golf courses for the wealthy?
I believe it was Huxley in Animal Farm who expressed it in the phrase “everyone is equal, just some are more equal than others.”
Are people inherently evil?
The founding fathers of America seem to have made a mistake by trusting the average man to make decisions. Recently I notice some leaders were quick to tell us that left to their own devices people will do awful, terrible things. What we need is a strong government, lots of laws, and a really large number of people to enforce compliance with those laws.
Laws are, of course, designed primarily to regulate the masses who cannot be trusted to control their own lives. Laws, we are told, should be enforced most rigorously on those who are either poor or different.
We have especially been told that those people who leave one country and go to another do so with evil intent. Good people with stay in their country of origin working as hard as possible to make their rulers happy and rich. People who go elsewhere seeking a better life are probably murderers and rapists and a danger to the stability of society. A well-functioning society, so we are told, needs to have a ruling class, who controls the dangerous masses.
Do most people need to stay in their place?
There was a time when the belief was widespread that the nobles were more important than the common man. Some people seem to want to hold onto this idea. Here in America, we don’t use titles of nobility the way they did in medieval Europe. There does seem to be a resurgence in the belief that the poor deserve their state in life. This resistance to raising the minimum wage coupled with the belief that the rich contribute more to society than the average person.
In many ways, our system is designed to keep the poor in poverty, to require the mentally ill to stay sick, and to house large numbers of the poor, minorities, and the mentally ill in criminal justice facilities. The belief that the people at the top of society deserve to be there and those at the bottom need to stay in their place, appears to be the prevailing view these days.
Are we bringing back the era of “law and order?”
I remember, in my younger days, the expression “law and order.” This expression was a particular favorite of some politicians during the Nixon era. Law and order did not mean just and fair rules for all. What it did mean was suppression of dissent. Increasing efforts to impose rigid rules on society resulted in cataclysmic divisions in society. Remember that Nixon, a veteran of the McCarthy hearings, resigned not because of what he had done or left undone but because in his words “I have lost my political base.” I fear a return to those values. Is it possible that America has forgotten the lessons learned from the incident at Kent State?
Today morality is being defined as telling people their religious faith is the correct one, rather than telling people there are right and wrong ways to treat others. Tell people how great they are, and you get a pass on bad behavior.
Is the right to have lots of guns more important than the safety of the children of the masses?
America’s had a huge problem with gun violence. Sometimes it happens in schools and sometimes on the streets. One way to mitigate the problem of gun violence in schools is to encourage the wealthy to send their children to private schools or educate them at home.
The rest of us are encouraged to buy more guns and shoot it out on school campuses the way they used to settle disagreements in the old West at high noon.
Is the “me too” movement misguided?
I remember a time when a woman who slept with a man outside of marriage was called a great many disgusting names. Men, however, who were able to sleep with a large number of women were idolized. While some men have lost their positions because of their sexual behavior, the more powerful you are, the more likely sexual indiscretions will be forgiven. Inappropriate behavior comes with a price tag and a nondisclosure agreement. Maybe the rich and powerful are entitled to a different standard of justice.
The truth is no longer useful.
Recently someone sent me an email saying that a person who disagreed with them had done all sorts of awful things. A quick Internet check of the “facts” in their email established that none of the things they said had ever happened.
Did they apologize? Not at all. The response to me was “I don’t like him; wouldn’t it be wonderful if all those things were true?” The “truth” has now become a synonym for unconscionable, hate-filled speech. “Truth” is now defined as those things said repeatedly and loudly by the people in control.
Rather than a rational discourse about facts and policy, our public conversations have become the occasion for bullying and name-calling. Want to discredit someone? Call them “fat, ugly, loser.” The bullies no longer run the playground, they run the planet.
Please pause the moment before you reply.
Before you report this post to the “thought-police” asked that it be banned as “fake-news” or frantically search for the phone number of the blacklist committee, there’s something you should know.
A good deal of this post is facetious and sarcastic. If you don’t know what that means, borrow a dictionary from someone who still owns one.
Remember, I’m one of those antique people who still believe in the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The matter how bleak things look right now, whatever your difficulties, I believe you can recover from life’s challenges and have a happy, meaning-filled life.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.