Metaphors for the present

There was an almost archetypal story I read about, back half a decade or so ago, that repeatedly seems to me to be an analog of certain events in this country in the past dozen years.

The article was brief and evocative, and seems metaphorical. A somewhat wealthy man had married a beautiful woman, who then did not function as his wife, but went her own way as if not really married to him, not his mate. Eventually he became so frustrated that he decided to start to divorce her; but by then she had cleverly totaled out all his credit cards, bought lots of things putting him into great debt, and essentially made him unable to ever be able to afford another wife. So would he have to keep her even though she did not function as his wife, just as she had planned; or become in great debt and unable to seek a real wife after divorcing her. Quite a predicament.

This archetype seemed to fit so well the predicament of America as of 2008. From having been a wealthy country in 2000, even paying off the national debt and abundant money for social security no problem forseeable, in eight short years America had become quite the opposite: in great debt, committed to two simultaneous horrifically expensive wars in far desert regions, and was now in a presidential election time. Would America keep the wife who had racked up such debt, knowing there was little chance to recover with a new real wife? And who would be so daring as to attempt to lead America to rebuild from the ruin that had been made of the nation? An America that had chickened out in 2004?

Amazingly Barack Obama offered to take on the seemingly impossible job; and more amazingly, America chose to give him the chance to do it. And he has done amazingly well, considering the near impossible circumstances.

From what I know, he has an astonishingly difficult job to do, far worse than most Americans realize. The complexities of all the big players, and the multiple ongoing scenarios playing out both internally and externally ... does America have The Right Stuff anymore? I keep watching for it. And the recent launch of the Atlantis Space Shuttle was an example of that Right Stuff highly visible ... that fortunately worked, too. Yet there are folks who declare that the whole space program is just "pork," unnecessary expense... most likely the same folks who, as kids, put enough quarters into arcade machines to have paid for an even bigger space program.

(Hecklers most likely would quickly seize the metaphor "wife to America" re President Barack Obama, eager to twist meaning away from this post. Obama has been quite a man in office and far more intelligent, compassionate for the American middle class, and making rational decisions even where there is little resources he has to work with; and being opposed by a solid group who dare not think for themselves, but can only act in unity to do the ploys of external selfish manipulators. Good job, Mr. President!)

Another metaphor has come to mind, also just too hard to ignore. (Forgiving people has its limits, it seems sometimes; tomorrow I will be over it; fully complacent again.) Early in my teens, my dad had a job in Mexico, helping to assist Mexico in the struggle to rid the country of cattle's hoof and mouth disease, which was spreading northward and surely would eventually infect America's cattle if it reached there. Another factor was that the Communists were spreading propaganda to the Mexican ranchers that the American doctors were there just to kill their cattle, nothing else. So there were violent lethal conflicts as part of it all. Anyway, living in Mexico then, I became aware of quite different ways of life than in America. One of them was "mordita," which was that to get people to do things, it was expected to give them a bribe. The mordita was over and above their salary; and the amount's establishment and protocol was beyond my ability to comprehend social things. The bribery was not illegal, as it was in the United States; and in fact it was expected standard procedure everywhere. It resembled, to me, the haggling that had to be done to buy anything, quibbling over every price.

My father made it very clear to me that the system of "mordita" bribery was necessary for everyday business including purchase of food and clothing in Mexico; but that it was an illegal offense if done in America.

Thus especially "buying" a politician was just not done, in America. Ever.

But nowadays there seems something like that going on here in America. It has been a subtle changeover, too. I get lots of appeals for money to "help finance politician's campaigns". It works out that I pay money to help get a particular person elected.
Supposedly it goes to pay people to advertise the particular candidate, otherwise, people will not know he/she is running for office.

But that looks an awful lot like mordita, in the overall pattern. It is as if the people who get into office to run our lives, get there as a result of who has the most money put in their pile.

Such a situation is ripe for some of the ultra-wealthy, such skilled business people, to use this as a way to not have to pay taxes for the bounty they have reaped off this country. Taxes needed to support the country so it can continue to be bountiful, particularly regarding human resources. So these competent business people play the "buy the politician" card and guess what happens. I read about it in the news today, more strongly than ever. Bought politicians allowing the ultra-wealthy to not pay appropriate taxes commensurate to the bounty they have reaped off the country.

Back in the 1950's, my better days, such a thing would have gotten an uproar "throw the bums out." People understood what taxes were about, payback to the system that enabled one's wellbeing, so as to keep it going. Back then, people would have seen right through the scam of using big money to get politicos elected that would stop the wealthy from being taxed to support the country that provides their overflowing bounty. But nowadays, people don't seem to notice much. What has happened to people's ability to see the big picture and analyze the pertinent details in it?

I could do some hypothesizing about those causes of American inability to comprehend and seek to cope with the situations; and the causes are multiple, and very worrisome, I think. Largely unseen, and some even deliberately hidden, expecting eventual advantages; but mostly a product of the insufficiently compensated changes to our environment we live in. But this post already has too much grumping and too little solutions.

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