24 July 2008

Granddaughter of the Revolution

You can't really leave your house without stepping in a pile of politics these days. I don't really mind it. While I am not a political animal in either my business or social lives, I do like to have a healthy debate about it. My one request is that you know what you are talking about (not just reguritating party dogma heard on a talkshow) and know why you believe what you say you believe (not just toeing party line). I don't need articles quoted or statistics arranged in a pie chart, just your take on the subject matter and a lively dialogue about it.

Believe me, I'm not especially well-versed in all that's going on in the world right now. My blood pressure rises too easily.
I do check in with the AP wire daily to note the headlines so I'm not in a complete moronic bubble. Catch BBC America's news a few times a week. Matt and Meredith give me the latest on Today. But I have my limits on how much gloom I can take in. I stopped reading the paper after October 2001. I turn off the TV whenever the Shrub wants to hear himself talk at yet another public address that says nothing but spins everything. I can't even enjoy Bill Mahr's show because he always has one guest I want to crawl through the screen to clobber. I'm a Buddhist, you know. I'm trying to stay detached, not judge and just go with the flow. My A-type personality and fiery astrology sign does get the better of me at times. I try to breathe through it.

There's a lot of talk about the raising of taxes. Barack's grand plan to make us all broke and on the governmental teet. That seems to be the right's favorite weapon. Ooh, he's going to raise taxes. How will we afford to live! Please. If Nero would stop fiddling long enough, we could all hear the sound of our infrastructure crumbling. It's been doing that for decades, and no one seems bothered. The fact that our roads and bridges, schools, sewers and such are falling apart...well, that's just someone else's problem. That is, until you are standing in a puddle of poo.

I was having a talk the other day with a dear friend whom I greatly respect. We were chatting about taxes and, while I certainly don't have to worry about capital gains, she was a little up in arms about what Barack was proposing. She didn't like the idea of a tax hike to those who invest wisely. As someone who saw half her paycheck go missing to the taxman when she was 26 because she fell into a certain bracket and had no dependents (except for my offspring: Rent, Car Payment and Student Loans), I get the irritation that overtaxing can bring. My familial roots go all the way back to the Mayflower and the Revolution (and I have a lot of apologizing to do for that, I know). We had that tea party in Boston for a reason. But, if we don't start chipping in to take care of things, the proverbial pot holes are only going to get bigger.

(By the way, we all seem to forget that, no matter what a candidate proposes, it still has to go through the House and Senate before it makes its way to us. I realize it's confusing now, since we have been under a dick-tatorship for so long and the media prefers hyperbole, but that's how it's supposed to work. Last I checked anyway.)

Sadly, it occurred to me last night, while leaving the theatre after a 7:30 showing of The Dark Knight, what lazy, apathetic people we can be. Seriously. Stay through the end credits of a film (which you should do; those people worked hard and deserve some acknowledgment), wait for the lights to go on, and take in the astounding amount of trash left behind. What kind of people can't take their oversized soda cups to the garbage can? What kind of people leave their candy wrappers and popcorn bags on the floor? I'll tell you what kind: Americans. Trust me, the theatre wasn't full of Canadians and Swedes; we were in Santa Monica. Why is this slovenly behavior socially acceptable? Because it's someone else's job to take care of it.

But we don't want Big Government taking any intruding steps into our lives. Smokers complain about their loss of rights often. They deserve the freedom to smoke anywhere they like. Screw those of us who don't like the stench of ignited toxins. I understand their ire to a point. I don't want "The Man" to tell me what I can or can't do to my body. If I want to risk my skull riding a motorcycle without a helmet, I shouldn't get cited for that. But it's not like in the interim, I'm not dropping bits of gray matter on the road as I fly by. Yet, how many times a day do you see a smoker casually drop a butt out of their car window, or flick it to the sidewalk as they saunter along? I must ask again: What kind of a person does that? Someone who really believes it's not a big deal. Someone else will take care of it.

We might say we don't like Big Government, but our actions say otherwise. We expect other people to take care of the things we don't want to deal with. After all, they get paid for it, don't they? That's your tax dollar at work, no?

Trust me, I'm not a fan of taxes. I don't like my money wasted and I'm certainly not pleased with how the government misuses what I send in. But that's my fault for letting them get away with it. Believe me, Senator Boxer, Senator Feinstein and Congresswoman Harman (whom I am still pissed at for not following my direct request to call for the Shrub's impeachment), know me and my email address well. I'm not IM-ing them every day or checking in on a weekly basis but, when I have an issue, I address it. I'm not afraid to pick up the phone and call my mayor to say that I'm not pleased about something (like being held captive in Bel Air). And you'd be surprised how easy it is to have a conversation with the right aide to get your point across, even if it's just to say you discovered a chunk missing from the road. It's not falling on deaf ears. It's being noted. Their jobs depend on it. And, if we all start letting our reps know how we feel and what we want, things will change. However, it's usually just the far ends of the spectrum chiming in. We need the middle men (and women) to speak up.

I know that must sound like a Peanut parent talking. Wah wah wahwah wah wah. But how else are we going to not only change things but make them better? Now's the time. Really. What are we waiting for? For it to get worse? I shudder to think of that.

I want to hold my breath in a tunnel to make a wish, not because I'm afraid it will collapse. Sink holes scare me (and fascinate me, too). I want to pay for the education of children not my own because, eventually, I'll have to deal with the little suckers as members of the general public and would like them to know how to use their brains. I don't have a problem with welfare. I think we should lend a hand to those who need it. I don't feel cheated by that. I feel cheated by my health insurance company, who increases my premium while shrinking my coverage. I feel cheated by corporations who seek profit at any cost. I feel especially cheated by our goverment protecting those corporations over the people, bailing them out while letting us sink. But, again, that's my fault. I let them get away with it.

My paternal grandmother was a direct descendant of Ethan Allen. When I heard that as a little girl, I thought for sure it meant big furniture discounts; a calming salve to the wound incurred by learning we were not heirs to a beer dynasty. What I later learned was that rebellion and distrust of "The Man" are in my DNA. I was destined to be a malcontent. Meant to question authority. Crave revolution. But, what might be most revolutionary is that I don't mind paying taxes to make our little piece of the world a better place. Maybe it's just my fear of sink holes talking or my version of tithing. Either way, I'd rather chip in now than pay for it later.

Did you feel that? I think it was a few of my relatives rolling over in their graves.

(Couldn't find a clip of them performing "Revolution" from the Isle of View accoustic show, but here's Chrissie and the lads performing "Tattooed Love Boys" circa 1981.)

(And "Private Life" from Isle of View. Not that either of these clips has anything to do with the topic here, she's just one of my favorite rebels, and one hell of a singer/writer/artist. Enjoy.)

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