The maddening failures

Is there an institution left in this country that has not failed us in some massive way in the past decade?

I ask that question on the heels of learning about the Federal Reserve Bank’s secret $7 trillion — that’s trillion with a T — loan program to the “too-big-to-fail” banks in 2009. Bloomberg had to take their request for this information all the way to the Supreme Court with the Fed fighting it tooth and bloody nail.

I find myself scrambling for words to describe the utter madness that has gripped our capitals and seats of power. I hoped I wouldn’t live so long to see what appears to be a complete unraveling of everything that holds this society together. If the once-great financier J.P. Morgan knew of any of these shenanigans, he’d perform acrobatics in his grave.

But back to my original question: Which one of our great institution remains untattered? What of our banks, our schools, our government, the media, our health care, our industry?

Banks, once the stalwarts of stability, have turned into cesspools of speculation. If you can’t trust the goddamn banks to be sensible with money, who can you trust? What’s left? Future historians will look back upon us, read the chapter about the period in our history where we gave out loans to people with nothing more than a weed-whacker as collateral and wonder what we put in the water.

Our schools which produced these mental-midget captains of the financial industry must share this guilt. This generation of baby-boomers boasted that they would change the world for the better, saving us all from the disasters of their fathers. Is this really what the age of Aquarius was supposed to bring us? When is this acid trip going to wear off?

Congress has devolved into another catastrophe too graphic even for Irwin Allen. At one point, I could write off the histrionics of Capitol Hill as yet another chapter of our continuing  political drama. History would show that what we see today is little different from how Congress always behaved. Now, I’m not so sure. I half expect to hear reports of gunfire in the House chamber, at which point I’ll simply roll my eyes and hope the bullet hit someone trying to turn us into more of a “Christian” nation.

Barack Obama began as a welcome change to the yukkity-yukk fiasco of the Bush administration, but liberals can hardly sleep well knowing that Obama has carried on most of W’s liberty destroying war policies and has done nothing to bring about any greater accountability on Wall Street or even in his own government. So much for change.

Health care continues to fail us. The price gets higher. The care gets worse. A car in a Jiffy Lube gets more attention than an average patient going to to their own doctor for a checkup. The industry now accounts for nearly 20% of our economy. One fifth of everything we “produce” goes to cure sick people. With the looming changes to our health care system, I hold out little hope of anything getting better. Seems to me that we just put the lunatics in charge of the asylum.

The media wants nothing more than to outrage us and make us angry at each other. What better way to engage your audience than to get them to become a massive virtual Jerry Springer show, with flying chairs and all?

Our continued neglect for arts education continues a long decline in our built environment. Despite all the brave efforts of those in preservation and sensible development, we throw up cheap structures hidden behind trees, which only sell more fodder for landfills. We are indeed, as Kunstler says, becoming Garage Sale Nation.

So, what’s left? I think we still have the best military in the world, but what are those brave souls defending?

I didn’t always feel so despondent about our prospects, but the news just gets grimmer, and at the heart of it lies a lack of accountability and responsibility in all of us — people want and expect something for nothing. Free lunches and attempts to game the system. And should anything threaten that perk, stand your ground and blame the other guy. My perk benefits society more than yours ever will.

Time for us all to get a grip. Time to take a good look around figure out what is truly important. The party is over, kids. I think this is our last chance to leave peacefully before we all get tossed out on our asses.