Sunday, January 8, 2012

Do you believe?

Continued strange weather since my last post.  Delivered the papers with 10 degrees registering on my car temp indicator one day last week, then with temps in the low 40's one day recently.  Despite that one arctic blast, mild winter continues.  60 degree afternoon in January!!

Now that the holiday hubbub has passed and we are all settling into our personal routines, I am thinking of two posts called "Do you believe?"

One of the Christmas traditions that many people share is the viewing of the classic movies, A Christmas Carol and Its a Wonderful Life.  

At out house, we usually watch the 1951 black and white version of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim in the lead role which we own on laser disc.  (Yes, we are one of the handful of earthlings who have a working laser disc player).  Sim's range of facial expressions as his life is presented by spirits past and future are unrivaled by the more modern actors who have been cast in this role.  And, of course, Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey elicits our sorrow, pride, fear and pure joy as the importance of his life is revealed via the hole his absence in life would have created. 

Whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, of the 1% or 99%, I am sure that tears are shed by all  who watch when Scrooge transforms into a man of goodwill, and when the entire community of Bedford Falls arrives at the Bailey residence to save George from bankruptcy.

Whether through the intervention of the spirits of Christmas or an offbeat angel named Clarence the lesson is clear that mankind is the business of all and happiness is found in the joys of life not the size of one's bank account.

But do we really believe in these lessons?

As a nation, we recently saw the passage of a defense department budget with little of the political infighting that has marked all the other votes on spending.  A spending plan that calls for over $100 billion dollars aimed specifically at the war in Afghanistan and another $500+ billion for the remainder of the department's needs.  Over $600 billion for war!  Yet at the same time, monies totalling 1% and less of this amount, funds for school lunch programs, public broadcasting, assistance for the long term unemployed, and other programs that assist those with the least are held up in committee or flat out denied under the guise of fiscal responsibility. 

We hear politicians, economists and political pundits who decry raising taxes a few percentage points for those with the most to give yet push the decision to the edge when the question of continuing just $20 a week extra for the average working class American comes before them. 

We read about energy plans that allow large sums of profit to be gained for out of state corporations in trade for some short term local jobs, and long term environmental damage and ecological uncertainty. 

We regularly read about the stagnation of the earning income of the middle class, yet still debate whether Wall Street regulations need to be stricter, whether the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau needs to have someone in charge, and whether income inequality is not a major factor in the ongoing recession.

We know that without good paying jobs, America will never get a handle on its debt, yet our corporations operate with a profit first mentality that treats labor cost as a liability and our elected officials, thanks to last year's Supreme Court ruling that gave credence to the buying and selling of our congressmen, are bombarded with unregulated donations from these very same monied interests.

Proposals to lower minimum wages, allow children to work more hours at lower wages, strip unions from collective bargaining rights are proclaimed as the way out of the woods, yet a cap on salaries for millionaires and billionaires is treated as a page from the book of Marx.

So, do we really believe that Scrooge and Mr. Potter were the bad guys of those Christmas classics?  Or is the new Mr. Scrooge who gives to his community and shares his wealth, and the well meaning but poor George Bailey just card carrying socialists who hate capitalism?

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