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Everything’s Worse Now

This one’s from Joseph Farah

Yes. I know. Joseph Farah  is like Catnip To Ed Brayton. But this is a trope I love debunking so there!

We like thinking that we are too beautiful for this sinful world. That as we die the world has gotten that little bit more worse in our passing. Our beauty leaves naught but evil villains playing with flick knives behind as we shuffle off our mortal coils.

And part of this belief is the notion of “Things were better in the past”.

Joseph Farah’s trip down Nostalgia Lane  is nothing but this.

Every recent poll agrees, Americans see their quality of life deteriorating – perhaps for the first time in the history of the country.

I agree, too.

Now this is just patently untrue.

Joseph Farah assumes that everyone lived like the founding fathers of the USA did. AKA everyone was rather rich. Rich enough  to sign their names. Lest we forget the bulk of white people were not these landed gentry. Many groups such as the Slavs and Irish were treated quite appallingly and this is pointedly ignoring the real elephants in the room of the treatment of Native Americans and Black People.

And again if we are JUST looking at White People as a whole this ignores the calamitous events of the Wall Street Crash and recession around 100 years ago. A issue that was worse than what we face today.

Why is it that I have read John Steinbeck but Joseph Farah has not? Ah yes. Too Much Bible, not enough Americana.

We are at the height of our power so far as humans. Technology is cheap and easily available. We are actually pushing boundaries of freedom. Oh Bradley Manning… Remember just 30 years ago he would have been executed probably. For being a dirty commie spy. Even the worst excesses of Guantanamo are known to us because of the transparency humans are forcing into the system. The reason people want to shackle the Internet is that despite all the madness also contained in it, it is also one of the fortresses of the freedom of speech.

The Internet has forced the government to be transparent. A lot more than it used to be. Just 30 years ago, how many of us would have followed Wendy Davies epic speech?

No I am afraid Farah is a stereotypical old man. For whom nostalgia burns brighter than common sense.

 

I’ve lived nearly 60 years in this country and have seen many changes – most of them bad.

An acquaintance who has lived half of the last 30 years outside the U.S. suggests his perspective on what’s happened in that time period affords more clarity.

“When things change for the worse gradually every day, the sneak-up-on-you effect comes into play,” he says. “But when one is away for five or six years at a time, the cumulative impact hits one right in the face.”

Unemployment and Poverty is up. But that is due to people like Farah who wanted less government controls. So banks issued loans to people who shouldn’t be given loans. Banks played deal or no deal and lost our money. And in the end they had to be bailed out damning our economies.

Yes, I am sure you would think it is bad. Crime is down and continues to fall. Black people got equal rights at least on paper and we are at our most progressive.

Intellectually we have created wonders. Only an idiot such as Farah would claim the world is shit on the greatest invention of the past 50 years. This wicked sinful Internet filled with the depths of depravity can also produce the best of humanity. But Farah instead chooses to ignore all that.

The world isn’t broken. Farah is.

One question seldom asked by pollsters or pundits is: Who’s responsible for ruining America?

Let’s think about the social and political and moral changes that have shaken America and ask ourselves: Who did this? Who is killing America?

It’s a good topic for a book. But I’ll try to keep it lean and mean in this short commentary.

Let Me Guess. Liberals, Queers and Blacks? If Farah was British he would be a Daily Express Reader (Don’t go outside! It’s full of Queers, Blacks and Crime! If only Diana were alive!).

  • Education: Ask yourself if the schools are better or worse now than they were 30 or 40 years ago. Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that they are worse – perhaps even nearing a crisis point in terms of discipline, instilling basic learning skills, teaching the rudiments of reading, writing and math and even just keeping kids safe? Who did this to our kids? Has the intrusion of the federal government into what had been essentially local education before 1979 been a positive factor or negative? Has any good come from it at all?There are actually many destructive forces in American education – but government is the biggest. The near monopoly it holds on shaping the hearts and minds of future generations is downright scary. The symbiotic relationship government maintains with the teachers union is corrosive to the core. Test scores keep dropping, along with standards. America is producing more functional illiterates than at any time in its history. And don’t even get me started on academia – where the cost of higher education keeps rising and the benefits keep dropping. Today, for the first time, high school graduates earn as much as college graduates do. They just have less debt. Who ruined education in America? The government-progressive complex.

Actually I agree with him. American education standards are falling.

But not for the reasons Farah thinks they are.

Your kids are safe in schools. The number of school shootings is actually DOWN. Now Conservatives would have you believe that all children are just waiting to bust a cap in yo ass (that’s the term right?) while holding their guns sideways like all those angry young men in the rap videos who don’t have to follow your axial facism and/or safety protocols when firing hand guns.

The problem with the American School System is three fold. And a lot of it boils down to Farah and his friends.

1. It’s not designed to educate, it is designed to cram for exams.

Children aren’t learning, they are simply cramming. There is no spirit of inquiry. There are no critical skills. No Child Left Behind leaves behind entire schools by incentivising education. So good schools keep earning money while schools with poor results lose money until they are forced to close. Because if children aren’t being educated well the last thing they need is goddamn budget cuts.

2. Private is Best, Public Schools are Dirty Communist Schools

It is not. You can have two tier public schools where kids who are more academically minded can get the sort of education that they sorely need. However in the USA if you want a good education it is almost universally privatised because governments keep doing things to damage and defund public education. This means the poorest of the poor generally don’t get educated properly.

3. Religion In Schools is Aye Okay

If you think religion is more important to your children then science then I am afraid a lot of people think the same way. And they would be wrong. We still have to argue against people who think we were created by magic from dust and that T-Rex ate  “plants”. We spend so much time worried about insulting “religion” that we don’t teach kids properly.

The first two are the major problem, the last is just symptomatic of the first 2.

It’s easy to fix this. Respect Teachers, Pay them What they Deserve. Fund schools equally. I don’t think the USA needs whizbang super fighters. If anything the world has proven that warfare is a lot more assymetrical these days. No one wants a war because wars are expensive. Profit is better. I feel that a few billion from that can go a long way to schools being better places.

Uniforms? Also good. And yes, while there are cultural groups of “crab bucket” mentality towards education, the way to fight this is not to stop teaching but to teach more  and in ways that engage the children.

And last but not least? Treat religion like your penis. Don’t whip it out in public, don’t show it around schools and definitely don’t try and put it inside children and people who don’t want to discuss it. You are not teaching the controversy or upholding your heritage. You are trying to turn mythology into history and superstition into science.  And this is making  kids “stupider”.

  • Media: Do you remember what television was like 50 years ago? It was entertainment geared to the entire family. You never had to blush or put your hand over your child’s eyes even through the 1960s and early 1970s. As one who worked in the press in the 1970s through the 1990s, I can tell you that, despite deep institutional problems that were emerging in the news media back then, the standards of professionalism were much higher than they are now. That is to say there were some standards. No longer. Watch MSNBC for 20 minutes and compare it in your own memory to Huntley-Brinkley. Who ruined the media? The government-progressive complex.

I remember old TV. I also am a big fan of photography. You see when I was 15 someone introduced me to the poem “War Photographer”. It was then I learnt the photographer’s dilemma. Do you take the photo and and exploit the suffering of one person to inform and try and stop the suffering of others? Or do you help but never get to show the “real” face of suffering?

I will say this. The shows back then were often mindless propaganda or just plain mindless. The few “intelligent” shows out there were not the sort that Farah would have liked. I mean consider all his flag waving, do you think he would have liked MASH?

And look! Won’t someone think of the children! But here is the thing. What is he covering the eyes of children over? Sex? Sex is natural. The more you treat it as “divine coitus” the more children are likely to think you are full of shit. Okay what else? Violence? Well kids cartoons these days are more sanitised to that sort of thing. I wouldn’t let my kids watch Breaking Bad, so I assume it’s general TV we are talking about.

Hell I remember the 90s. TV was pretty crappy back then. We have more science and educative programming that ever before.

Okay, American Standards of Journalism have fallen but that is due to the fact that the USA isn’t willing to make a stand and go for journalistic integrity because the networks are playing it “safe”. They go with safe ideas because there is no reason to take a risk. Farah’s friends will watch Fox News and Harrumph about it. Those who are on the opposite side will watch NBC and harrumph about that. So there is no need to be new.

So Farah thinks NBC is bad? Yet he probably thinks Fox is the second coming of Metraton (the voice of Jehovah) rather than tabloid journalism and the portrayal of vapid idiots as intellectuals. Why? Well probably  because of the no risk factor.

I am afraid that’s why the broadsheet is dying. Internet Journalism gets a bigger audience and lets you take risks safely.

Oh as for programming? I picture Farah as Ned Flanders, okely dokelying as he covers the ears of his children lest they hear the word angina.

  • Economy: Do you know what a gallon of gasoline cost in 1965? If you don’t remember, you had better sit down: 31 cents. Do you know what it cost to heat a home or fire up an electrical plant back then? A lot less. Do you really have to ask yourself where America’s manufacturing base has gone? Do you really not understand where the jobs have gone? What good is a minimum wage law if you can’t get a job? And why are progressives in government always fixated on equalizing wages rather than maximizing them and rewarding hard work and entrepreneurship? You know who destroyed the economy. The government-progressive complex.

I could go on and on if I had the time and space. But you get the idea. Every aspect of American society is worse off today than 30, 40 or 50 years ago because of the government-progressive complex.

This is why Farah should not be allowed to do economics.

The average salary a month (AVERAGE mind you. Not median) was $440. And you needed gallons of petrol because cars were so inefficient. What? Does Farah think that somehow oil prices going up are not due to market forces and due to oil getting rarer? That perhaps if we started being sensible about petrol back then we may have more now?

The current average is effectively $70,000. ot 5,800 or so dollars a month. 31 cents is roughly 0.07% of a worker’s income. Current gas prices are on average $3.65 per gallon or 0.06% of a worker’s income.

Gas prices today are slightly cheaper than they used to be. And the same all round. Joseph Farah is so utterly naive that he thinks that if the golden heyday of his past continued everyone would earn $70,000 and pay 30 cents a gallon. It’s so childish a thought.

Manufacturing base? Well China is willing to hire people at slave labour costs and force them to work slave hours and in conditions that are akin to slavery. The USA is not. Farah assumes that this is happiness.

Mainly because Farah thinks he will be the Master not the Slave.

Not this one…

And the ultimate joke is?

Farah wants to DROP the average wage. Making that gallon of petrol just a little bit more out of reach to some of the poorest Americans.

And it shows. He thinks the “progressives” destroyed the economy. Not the idiots who deregulated securities trading and tried to privatise home aid and encourage poverty striken people to take out loans thus allowing for securities to be traded on the lowest risk in the bundle rather than the highest and trade around debts. What took place was a game of greed where you can make money trading on smoke and air. It was a game of Deal or No Deal and the prize was that whoever was left with the box  in the end found out that the money being traded wasn’t worth the stuff in the box.

Like the Dutch Tulip Crisis, Americans were profiting over something that had no inherent value and these debts incurred in this trade were massive. Resulting in the fall of the economy. This resulted in people being forced to default on mortgages that they should have never been given in the first place on houses they often could ill afford to loan that they were encouraged to buy.

And Joseph Farah would say “they should have known”, but honestly? Poor people try to survive on a daily basis. Their biggest concern is tonight and maybe “the weekend”. They cannot make such plans. They don’t get credit cards because they want to improve their credit score or have a safety net for large purchases. They get them to survive a little bit more.

And that is why we need “minimum wages” rather than the euphemism of “maximiising wages” which just means rich get more rich poor get more poor.

It was not Democrats who unleashed the spectre of dickery. But Republicans. AKA Farah’s Fan Club.

But what is the government-progressive complex?

I’ve heard of the military-industrial complex, but what’s the government-progressive complex?

It’s far more powerful than the military-industrial complex ever was back in the time of Dwight Eisenhower. But it’s similar in nature.

Yes. Because the fight over women’s healthcare and gay rights has shown how progressive the government really is. Not Very.

And really? The MI complex builds guns and stuff for armies and is reliant on a state of fear of war to sell it’s goods. The Government is there to rule a population and enforce the law.  Progressives just happen to think the laws should be “progressive” and give people more freedom and try and soften the blow on the weakest in society. That’s it. Not some nefarious cackling coven of people who revel in other people’s poverty.

The ultimate joke  is many conservative voters are “poor” but buy into this bullshit of conservative politics that they literally cripple their own economic growth.

So-called “progressives” see and use government as their vehicle for promoting and enforcing change in America – change from old standards, change from ways that were tried and true, change from things that worked, change from virtuous and good. Why? Because they believe in government as their one true god. Because they believe that people need to be herded like sheep. Because they believe they can bring about utopia if only people like them are in power. And, as a result, government grows and grows and grows over time to take on more of a god-like omnipotence every day.

Yes. The old standards. Where the USA not only owned people as property but killed people if they didn’t like their ethnicity. Or the Apartheid. The old standards were great for rich white good old boys. But the times are a changin. The uppity coloureds came and made themselves equals.

And now you can’t shout nigger at us anymore (Dear racists, the correct racist slur you are looking for is “Paki”.) and they are marrying our daughters and our sons and now there are these homosexuals who we can no longer beat who are also marrying our daughters and our sons. And these women? They now vote and hold jobs and don’t want men who just bring home bacon….

The old standards… were stupid. If those were your standards? then 40, 50 years ago? You  were no different from South Africa. You were a racist, sexist society. If you believe in a god then be thankful that society changed.

And yes, “progressives” use the government. Farah has no qualms about inserting Jesus into children through the government after all. And Farah would portray  himself as a fighter of freedom. But he fights for the freedom of the rich to oppress the poor. For the conservatives to not be insulted. For the religious to oppress. That is not freedom, that is bigotry wrapped in a pretty bow.

Which is why he  calls people as sheep. He would rather be a goat. We should all be goats. The goats that fall by the wayside are weak! You aren’t weak are you? Come goat… the American Dream Awaits. But don’t look down and realise you are climbing over the corpses of those who climbed before you.

He was weak, that must make me strong right?

I live in a country of goats. And I know I am up the mountain here.

I know the cost of no government control. It is crushing poverty. Farah doesn’t care. As long as his pockets are lined. He can indulge in charity.

Throw the beggar a few coins and wash away your greed right?

So who killed the American Dream? You can’t blame conservatives. You can’t blame libertarians. You can’t blame decent, hard-working Americans who have remained true to our national character. You can’t blame constitutionalists. You can’t blame religious people. If you are thoughtful and sincere, you can only blame the government-progressive complex.

The American Dream also comes with the American Nightmare. No one wants to talk about that now do they?

Now that you know it, watch for it in action. The only way to stop this monster is by recognizing it by name.

Yes.

The monster is ignorance. How many Americans think waggling a flag is patriotism not criticising your leaders? How many Americans think that socialism is so evil that if we told them that weekends, anti-child labour and education were all ideas put forth by Marx they would force their children down a coal mine even on Saturdays. How many Americans think you can live on minimum wage? How many Americans think working two jobs a day is “GOOD”. How many poor Americans vote for tax cuts for the rich because they fear the GLBT or Death Panels or Kenyan Secret Muslims or Chimpanzee Men or whatever crazy fear the right wing are pushing this week.

How many poor people voted for increased tax cuts to the rich? Joe the Plumber? Remember him! We laugh but then we remember that there are more people like him out there who think he was “sensible”. Because he genuinely thought that he was going to be a millionaire some day. How many  pro-lifers voted for anti-abortion laws then had to go get abortions later? I know a few stories of pro-lifers insulting the very doctors who helped them get abortions later on. How many poor people voted for “religion” in schools only for their kids to be crippled intellectually by the faulty education they received. How many poor people helped defund public schools and then worked extra jobs to put their kids through a halfway decent school or worse watched as the system crippled their kids.

I am afraid the problem in the USA is that the two parties don’t discuss policy. They discuss stupid crap. So the election stopped being about who had the best plan for dealing with the economy but who was going to legalise gay marriage. An act that is important but not as important as fixing the bloody economy. If your boat is sinking then cleaning it up is less important than corking the hole. Again.

No I am afraid the problem is that people in the USA aren’t well informed about what their political choices entail. And this results in poor choices.

Joseph  Farah is just a mouth piece of those very poor changes.

Comments

  1. maudell says

    And again if we are JUST looking at White People

    White women didn’t have an amazing life back then either…

    But I think what people like Farah are saying is that we were in fact happier back in their conservative utopia (which never existed), we just don’t realize it. Conservative white men are the unbiased ones of course.

  2. Vicki says

    Mostly I agree with you, but not about Bradley Manning. Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out the differences between how he was treated and how Manning was; Manning’s treatment was a lot worse. Forty years ago the Nixon administration tried to find psychiatric evidence to discredit Ellsberg; he wasn’t thrown into solitary confinement.

  3. Cathy W says

    And last but not least? Treat religion like your penis. Don’t whip it out in public, don’t show it around schools and definitely don’t try and put it inside children and people who don’t want to discuss it

    …what an amazing metaphor.

  4. MaryL says

    He’s talking about an America that never existed; a very cleaned-up, sanitized version that only exists in some people’s minds. Never a thought to pollution; DDT; lynching; segregation; being shamed, and ashamed, for being raped; unsafe cars; VAPID entertainment; immense gender and racial stereotyping; and so on. It’s a huge list. He reminds me of those idiots who think life during the Depression wasn’t too bad. The people who died as a direct result of the Depression are sadly forgotten.

    Reality is that everything changes. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. I’ll take reality over dreams.

  5. CaitieCat says

    Because they believe that people need to be herded like sheep.

    Yes. Because it’s not as though any religion has ever used that metaphor. Sure is a good thing there’s no such thing as a “pastor” in his religion, right? Cause that way, they won’t be herding people like sheep, because as we all know, pastor means…oh, crap.

  6. says

    Whenever someone says “things were better back in the 50s and early 60s” I assume they’re longing for when the US was an apartheid state. It’s an assumption that serves well. Because the alternative is to imagine someone is longing for Gilligan’s Island and Gomer Pyle.

  7. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Has anybody though of telling Farah that Happy Days was NOT a documentary, and that the American Utopia of one W. Disney was to have a rather exclusive (to say the least) membership?

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