• Posted: Feb 12, 2011 11:21:16
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I'm not normally a fan of popular music. Far too often it is annoyingly repetitive, with words and sentiments that are profoundly ignorant and wrong-headed. But every so often, a particular song will catch my attention for its extremely apt presentation of a compelling observation or question. Such a song is now echoing in my brain the day after Egypt's dictator/President has resigned and GOP members of the U.S. House of Representatives have presented their proposal for cuts to the current budget of the United States. Lyrics from that haunting song by Killers comprise the title to this post. The inspiring opportunity now before the people of Egypt and Tunisia is described within those dichotomous questions. And similarly are the difficult choices now before members of our U.S. Congress.
Profit or deficit is not a just measure of human accomplishment, no matter how much fiscal conservatives, Tea Partiers, accountants, and business titans insist it is. Gutting the EPA and other government regulatory agencies, all institutions intended to help guide us toward a more just, humane, and responsible society, is not going to do anything except liberate from scrutiny those would be puppet masters bent on enslaving us all within the workings of their own iron-fisted dictatorships. Anyone who has ever punched a time-clock and tried to live within inhuman company rules, under threat of pay cuts and disciplinary expulsion, knows exactly the kind of dictatorship I'm talking about. With backing from last year's Supreme Court decision endowing corporations with the rights of citizens with respect to election funding, and a long list of similar decisions undermining the clout of labor unions, the GOP/Tea Partier front for America's would be warlords is feeling its oats. Will we as citizens acquiesce to their agenda for America? In other words, will we be mindless dancers? Or, will our human concerns for fairness, compassion, and responsible action be rekindled in manner similar to the inspiring peaceful protests that have now shown two Middle East dictators to the door.
An interesting counterpoint to the GOP press toward tax-cutting fiscal conservatism was offered in a recent podcast by NPR's Planet Money (#244 of 1/18/11). Within that podcast, Estonia's president was interviewed. Estonia has recently been admitted to the E.U. Their admittance was predicated on Estonia getting its fiscal balance sheet in order. Under their President's guidance, they have accomplished that goal. But costs to their society were huge. GDP has shrunk dramatically, in 2009 alone by 13.9%. Unemployment is now 18%. Funding for government purchases and infrastructure has been abandoned. Public sector salaries were cut. Teachers were not given promised raises. Life in Estonia is not good, not moving forward, not currently producing hope for a future worth living. But their balance sheet has improved greatly. They have danced the dance. And in the process, much of the vibrance within their economy has been drained. Will it return? Will membership in the E.U. eventually be worth the price Estonia's citizens have paid? For their sakes, we hope it will.
Would be puppet masters are legion. Their recipes for profit invariably involve abandoning just, humane, and responsible aspirations. The question remains for all of us: Will we be dancers? Or, will we be human?
The best antidote, most certainly, is to stay involved.
Thursday, January 28th, 2010