Monday, February 22, 2010

Brother Can You

Impossible to speak of the present economy without Depression-era photo of long dreary line... 

The New York Times calls them "the new poor." I predict the fashion industry will soon reflect our so-called impoverished. And will they, sitting around at home for a couple of years or more, start to think and vote differently?
Even as the American economy shows tentative signs of a rebound, the human toll of the recession continues to mount, with millions of Americans remaining out of work, out of savings and nearing the end of their unemployment benefits.
Economists fear that the nascent recovery will leave more people behind than in past recessions, failing to create jobs in sufficient numbers to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed.
Call them the new poor: people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives — potentially for years to come.
Yet the social safety net is already showing severe strains.
This next quote strikes me as especially sad. It describes how a woman's life has taken a sharpish turn because of over two years of unemployment.
She has learned to live without the prescription medications she is supposed to take for high blood pressure and cholesterol. She has become effusively religious — an unexpected turn for this onetime standup comic with X-rated material — finding in Christianity her only form of health insurance.
“I pray for healing,” says Ms. Eisen, 57. “When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got to go with what you know.”
It's sad that the Times reporter chose this — the foul-mouthed standup material returns to the LORD! is  a cliche, I feel — to indicate the woman battening down hatches as it were, for a long and uncertain span of her life to come. But setting aside my effete literary pretensions and embracing my naive political ideals: this past year we have watched that urgent, that alarmingly overdue, that essential political reform on health care, kicked to death in public by the paid thugs of the Republican Party, abetted by the (at best) ineffectual Democratic Party (some of whom kicked health care reform just as vigorously as the GOP killers), all of them paid off by the HMOs. 

Oh, and then they dress it up — for whom to believe, I wonder? — as Americans being artful sceptics, eying up the Obama reforms and bein' not-keen-on-government-run-things... (you can almost hear beans being eaten round a camp fire with a farting chorus). 

In the nation that turned shopping into a faith, an art form, a therapy, please, Mr. Republican Party, show me an American who longs to go on paying MORE FOR LESS.