Monday, August 23, 2010

Carlin's American Dream

I recently saw a video of a 3 minute bit by the late, great George Carlin. Being George Carlin, the language was too salty for a public newspaper, so I have done a bit of editing and have cleaned it up for publication. Since no one could say it better, the Man himself should have the last word. Here is what he had to say about the American Dream…
There’s a reason education stinks, and it’s the same reason that it will never be fixed. It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it, be happy with what you’ve got , because the owners of this country don’t want that --- I’m talking about the real owners now, the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice! You have OWNERS! They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that because that doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. That’s right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting railroaded by a system that threw them overboard thirty years ago. They don’t want that! You know what they want? They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork, and who are just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly lousy jobs with lower pay, longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and a vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security , your retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it, sooner or later because they own this stinking place! It’s a big club, and you’re’re not in it! By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table has tilted, folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care! White collar, blue collar, it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard-working people of modest means continue to elect these rich pigs who don’t give a crap about you. They don’t care about you at all and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the way they are being shafted everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth. It’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.
Right on target, George. Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Time to Get Rid of all Religions

The recent debate (?) over the proposed building of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York has brought out the very worst in people, and has also revealed the blatant and utter hypocrisy , a word that seems to be very apropos down here in the south when I listen to private conversations among my church going acquaintances. Too much fried food has apparently blocked the arteries and blurred the memories of all of the mosque’s detractors. So I will remind them here of this basic first truth in the history of this country (a country in fact stolen by Europeans, but that’s another column): the Pilgrims left England and came over to the New World for one reason: freedom of religion. The United States was created by these people and the right to practice the religion of their choice is guaranteed in the very constitution that so many use to defend their right to own those silly guns that you keep in their sock drawers, and that allows them to say just about any nutty thing they want to about our duly elected president, without fear of repercussion.
Apparently freedom of religion doesn’t include Muslims. The men who flew those planes into the World Trade Center happened to be Muslims. So are Muhammad Ali, Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens, composer of Peace Train)and many other men and women of dignity and peace. Should we wish death and destruction on them as well? This anti-Muslim hysteria is just the latest episode in the never ceasing battle between religious factions. My god is better than your god, or this religion is a gutter religion, or this holy book calls for the death of this group of people. It’s time to say it:
Organized religions need to go. Plainly and simply they have caused, or have been the reason for most of the wars in this world’s history and have been responsible for more deaths than in these wars than any naturally occurring disease. Every single one of them is the creation of human beings with their own agendas. Christianity? It wasn’t even started by Jesus, whose existence historically is dubious, but by a group of people who heard a legend and decided to run with it. Islam was based on the teachings of a man named Mohammed. Mormonism? Look up the story of Joseph Smith and decide for yourself. The Jewish religion, 4000 years old, began as more of a unity of a culture whose entire civilization were enslaved. The point is that not one of these religions was created by God, but by people, and because of the problems they have caused, they all should go.
I’m not religious. I don’t believe a word of it, to be honest, and without having a dog in this fight can only offer up a question for you to ponder, and I hope you do. If there is a god, and if you believe that that god created you and knows your every thought, then why do you need to have religions? What is the purpose of a church? Great place for bake sales, admittedly, but not much else. Any tenet you may have with a god, real or unreal, is between you and him. Some human being wrote the following: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. “ Wise words for all people , whoever really said them. Much better and certainly truer to the spirit of God that so many of you worship than “Kill all the Muslims.”
You are your own religion. Believe in yourself and your family. And may the senseless wars cease.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Women

This is a tale of two women. They share two things in common: they both have long hair, and they are both from Butts County. That’s where the resemblance stops.
Their names don’t matter. For obvious legal reasons, I can’t use their real names, but I will call one woman Ms. Jones and the other Ms. Smith. They are both real people and are both, to a degree, friends of mine.
I’ll start with Ms. Smith. She grew up almost literally dirt poor, surrounded by the rusting metal hunks of trailer park homes and the constant odor of cigarettes, booze and decay. She is not traditionally pretty, and her teeth are less than perfect—far less, in fact. Her parents were both alcoholics and her mother bears the telltale “chicken lady” appearance that chronic crystal meth users develop, toothless, thin and gaunt. Her father works for a local contractor when he can, but her mother wanders the streets, back and forth to the local store for smokes and booze. A pretty depressing world, and young Ms. Smith could hardly be blamed for falling into a cycle of alcoholism and addiction, given the role models she had at home. The poor girl hardly stood a chance.
Ms. Jones, on the other hand, grew up in a nice home. Pretty—extremely pretty, in fact, she had her choice of careers, and of who she dated. She found a guy she really liked and soon found herself pregnant with what would turn out to be a beautiful child. She also found herself in college, studying hard in pursuit of what can only be described as one of the most noble of professions. Degree in hand she achieved her goal when she was hired at a nearby school as a teacher and shaper of young minds. Her life was set.
Ms. Smith, on the other hand, had it rough. With her poor background, and imperfect appearance, the best she could do was a minimum wage gig at a local convenience store, where what money she did make was then taken by her parents for their vices. Then ownership of the place changed hands and soon Ms. Smith, who had been doing a surprisingly good job, was out of work.
Then life pulled one of its nasty little tricks. While Ms. Smith was being let go from the only job she had ever had, Ms. Jones, well paid educator, with a bright future, nice car and house, made the decision that she just had to try crystal meth. Just one time. One auto accident and charges of erratic behavior later, all of a sudden Ms. Jones found herself out of a job and with a sick craving for a drug that would soon leave her not only selling her child’s toys and computer for meth money, but frantically looking for hair products that would fool DFCS when they tested her hair for signs of meth use. Her good looks were beginning to fade. Her child had been taken away. Then earlier this summer she was arrested at a roadblock for possession with intent to distribute a large amount of crystal meth. Life in the gutter, life in the trash, life almost over.
Ms. Smith, on the other hand, took the high road and moved out of her addicted, leeching parents’ trailer and in with good relatives in a neighboring county. She never did fall into the vicious cycle of addiction. Instead,she showed what true character is all about: she found another job, met a nice young man and is thriving. Things are good.
Isn’t life funny that way?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It’s 7:00 AM in Jackson. I drive down Third Street on my way back home after a good, early morning workout at Jake Hiett’s Fitness USA gym on Covington Street. I see a few like-minded people---there is a tall, older white man in jogging shorts and a tee shirt, walking briskly down the sidewalk near the CVS. As I approach the Piggly Wiggly an older black woman is also walking briskly, listening to music on some kind of portable device. At least we middle aged to older folks know that a good walk gets the blood pumping and makes us ready for the day ahead. Oh, the young ones will find out soon enough….
There are also others walking around—lost souls, burned out from too much booze or drugs the night before are slowly pacing the same sidewalks as the walkers getting their exercise. Opposite ends of the spectrum but still all part of the same community.
Even though it’s just seven in the morning there are already two cars being worked on at Chuck’s Tires, and a lot of people are coming in and out of the “Pig.” Jackson is busy early. It’s the same story in other small towns and cities---working people trying to make the rent. And trusting our leaders to lead us the way we deserve to be led.
Almost two years ago this country elected a president who had more promise and potential than any president in recent memory—maybe since the days of John F. Kennedy. He was preceded by a man who managed to almost overnight make this country the laughing stock of the world. Now our new president has a tremendous job to do making our country respectable again, but he has had to battle untold forces within his own country, a Republican party who seem lie with every breath and whose members seem determined to drag this country back to the stone age. He has handled his job fairly well, certainly much better than his predecessor, and while not perfect, has certainly done an admirable job of winding his way through the mess he was left to clean up. A house can be torn down in minutes but takes much longer to rebuild. So it goes with countries. These things take time, sometimes lots of it, and you have to spend money to do these things.
I read a lot of magazines and online newspapers and watch a lot of news reports. I see political leaders and hopefuls here in Georgia spouting silliness on television about how they will turn down any stimulus money headed for Georgia, or they will proudly exclaim that they will protect Georgians from the dreaded “Obamacare” and other programs designed to help the average American. In the next breath they will say that the economy here in Georgia hasn’t improved. You can’t have it both ways, folks. The federal government isn’t going to force feed its medicine to little Georgia, like a mother has to with a child’s cough syrup. If your leaders are shortsighted to the point of wanting to cut off YOUR nose to spite your face, it’s up to you to find leaders who have vision and who really want what is best for all of you. A governor who goes to Dubai looking to bring jobs to Georgia (and only manages to secure up to 300 high-paying jobs over the course of a ten year period) is really just looking for a nice vacation. Thirty jobs a year? C’mon, Sonny. Leave already.
Back in Jackson, a truck from Dave’s Corner Lot rolls by with a customer’s car in tow. Hard working people, dealing with the cards, or cars, they have been dealt. I hope for all our sakes we get a better hand soon…..