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Rockin' The Suburbs

docoflove1974

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Life has been busy lately, but somehow I've managed. I've had to get creative in order to make ends meet...it doesn't involve a street corner, but it does involve applying my talents in new ways. I have decided that I need to be called a 'consultant.'

 

Why, you ask? Because for one, I live not in the city, but in the suburbs, and evidently all those minimally-employed or unemployed professionals who are looking to rectify their economic situation call themselves as such. I've been told that 'consultant' sounds more dignified and represents the level of education and experience possessed by people like me. Also, because a consultant can charge more for services rendered than the average Joe or Jane.

 

Eh, whatever works. As long as I can earn enough to keep the roof over my head, the lights on, and the fridge with some food, then things will be ok.

 

___________________________________________________

 

Very interesting discussion on BBC World News America tonight. Katty Kay did a report on economic troubles in Rhode Island, being representative of much of the rest of the country, but it was followed by an exchange between her and Matt Frei, the anchor. They made an interesting comparison between Europeans and Americans when it comes to these tough economic times. Both the Englishwoman and the German gentleman noted that Europeans have expected certain services by their governments--services for which they have been paying much higher taxes for a very long time--and now that the governments have to cut back some 20% on these services, the sense of entitlement that the government isn't helping the people is growing. By contrast, they noticed that most Americans aren't big on government help...we have never really expected the government to give us everything, but that probably is because we have a culture of wanting lower, not higher, taxes, along with a culture of do-it-yourself; we want to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, not have the government do it for us. On the other hand, they both figured that if things get much worse here, Americans will start striking and protesting just like in France, Spain, Italy and other European countries. (Of course, our first protest will come on the first Tuesday of November, with the elections.)

 

Are they right? Very probably. It seems like it's always been a land of independence--it's not that we don't want help, but we have a pride in taking care of ourselves that seems to run counter to socialism in the strictest sense. Even though polls are suggesting that more and more Americans are warming up to nationalized health care plans, we also don't want the government to interfere all the time with our lives. Perhaps that's as a consequence of our history--pioneers fending for themselves, and all that. And as for the comment on Europeans feeling entitled to certain services but paying higher taxes, that probably has truth in it, too, but my knowledge and impressions aren't that strong. I will say that being in Italy this summer, people were highly disgruntled with the government telling them to expect less for more, even though the austerity measures would still result in more coverage and services than the average American had. Pushing the age of retirement from 60 to 62 seems to be unheard of and unacceptable for most Europeans...but my parents' generation saw retirement somewhere between 62 and 65, and for my generation it probably will be 68, or maybe even later.

 

I guess the bottom line is that we humans are creatures of comfort and habit. We really aren't that fond of change, particularly if it disrupts our lives so much. Yet we always seem to manage through, all the same.



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In fairness, european nations expect government assistance because socialist governments want us to and have gotten us used to the idea. It's their means of creating a better society, and requires higher taxes not only to fund these services, but as a means of redistributing wealth to those they see as deserving of that assistance.

 

Also, we have come to expect a somewhat poor performance from those we pay taxes to. That's why the public are currently so apathetic about voting in Britain. What's the point? One government is no worse than another. There is the issue of corruption of course. European politics is known for that and in recent decades civil service honesty in Britain has not improved in any way.

 

There was a guy in the local job centre who was firing off about national riots against injustice in society (though I admit, he had a racial motive) and I had to tell him such riots were not likely to spark anything significant, aside from a few burned cars if it got out of hand in one place or another.

 

In Britain, it's the threat of poor publicity that politicians don't like. Once you start manning the barricades, you're against the law and your cause is cast in that light. What politicians don't like are television reports of angry citizens yelling into loudhailers and using up police budgets on keeping demonstrations civil. For that reason, the governments have become very proficient at disarming such moods.

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I find that interesting, especially in light of the fact that there are few political protestations here. I don't know that I would call the Tea Party Movement such a protestation, although I think it's along those lines. I don't know why we don't have that element in our political make-up. Perhaps it's because we vote our representatives in (and out) so frequently, or perhaps because we haven't gotten to that point. At least, not yet.

 

I've heard a few political analysts on the boob tube comment that the likelihood of any incumbent gaining reelection in November is going to be slim--be they Republican or Democrat. These analysts insist that people are fed up with how things are going now, so the incumbents are going to suffer the consequences--as if to say, hey, this isn't working, and we need something different. I don't know that to be the case; so often these people say that the voters will do one thing, and then the opposite happens. I'm not saying that it's not possible, just that somehow I'm not sure. I do have a gut feeling that the Republicans will take over the House again, but I don't know how big that majority will be. Somehow I think that the majority of the Tea Party-style candidates will be shown as being too right-wing, which means that the likelihood of their election won't be very high. It's those of us in the middle who make the decisions, both on the ballot and in Congress. For most people, if a candidate seems too far to one side or the other, they tend not to be elected--something that I have a feeling is mostly true in the world at large.

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It's difficult for me to draw conclusions because I know almost nothing about US government. I have this sort of hazy idea of how it works via film and television, which I'm sure is a distortion of the truth.

 

There does seem to be a much higher degree of civic credibility required by the americans. Here in Blighty we are still afflicted by old class-system values which mean that people in authority are somehow better than everyone else. I suspect, apart from a badge of office, that the americans have a much more direct attitude, though I do get the impression that wealth is more of a social marker than in Britain, where we see a measure of reverse snobbery toward those better off.

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No, I think you have a valid point, Caldrail...although I'm in the reverse position as you, only knowing anything about the British system via tv and news. There is a direct attitude, especially with the Representatives, and definitely with local government. You don't get the actions of the citizens of Bell, California without the people taking direct interest and action, which stems from the belief that average citizens can make a difference. And yet...so many, like me, are cynical regarding how much actually gets done.

 

In all honesty, that first Tuesday in November will be very interesting to watch ;)

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