Then vs Now...

Last update: Fri Mar 3 20:36:47 2023


For most of my life the world was polarized between two ideologies: communism and capitalism (a.k.a. "democracy"), each one claiming to be the foundation of an ideal society in which all persons would benefit; the one planned and managed to achieve a fair and just outcome, the other a chaos that works all by itself, driven purely by greed. Endless books of philosophy, economics, sociology, and history were written analyzing these two world views; they were studied and debated everywhere. Meanwhile the capitalist bloc did everything conceivable to destroy the communist bloc and eventually succeeded. Now, instead of two great ideologies (well, one great ideology and one lie), in the 21st Century we suddenly find ourselves back in the Middle Ages and world events dominated not by competing philosophies but by greed, pillage, holy wars, crusades, racism, and blind hatred; even plagues. This at a time when capitalism has shown its hideous face more openly than at any time in the last 100+ years, bent quite literally on destroying the entire planet for the short-term gain of a miniscule elite who evidently don't even care about their own offspring, unless they have a secret plan to move to a new planet. 1000 years of progress wiped out in just a few short years (from the fall of the Soviet Union to the mideast wars and the subsequent worldwide "War on Terror"). This turn of history is so bizarre I could never have predicted it. But in retrospect of course I can explain it perfectly well. (This paragraph written in 2018...)

In June-July 2022 I find myself witnessing the crumbling of the United States into warring factions just as bitterly divided as the North and South in 1861. The racism, misogyny, xenophobia, hatred, and violence that had been lurking under the surface since the 1960s has boiled up and taken over about half the population and half the states. The federal government is nonfunctional. The 99% corrupt corporate Democrats can't bring themselves to do what is necessary to win back their traditional working-class base: bring back the good jobs, support labor unions, fund public education adequately, back off from the USA's world domination project, rebuild the crumbling infrastructure, enact free universal health care, establish a right to work at a living wage and to decent and truly affordable housing, tax the rich, let everyone vote, abolish the antidemocratic senate and the Electoral College, regulate banks and Wall Street and the big corporations and the Internet, bring back actual journalism (to replace today's shameless lying and/or "bothsidesism"), guarantee a secure retirement for everybody, cancel the personhood of corporations, regulate political campaign funding, regulate lobbying, un-privatize prisons and treat dysfunctional people in mental facilities instead of imprisoning them, etc etc etc. But instead, both political parties have let the private sector run wild and people are sick of it. They vote for Republicans because they are angry and Democrats have deserted them. The 2022 midterm elections could easily deliver both the House and Senate to the Republicans in which case the Democrats will be locked out forever by gerrymandering, voter suppression, and other schemes. Meanwhile, Trump's Supreme Court is issuing a steady stream of astoundingly retrograde rulings on abortion, guns, reunion of church and state, environmental destruction, etc, that are welcomed by half the states, where the rest are busy enacting laws to negate the rulings. Soon the states could find themselves with border-crossing controls, e.g. to catch women trying to obtain abortions, or to block the influx of immigrants (or guns), and then how long before the pressure builds to break the USA up into USRA and USBA (Red and Blue)? (Maybe Red should be White)  Once again, I really did not see this coming.


Unlike now, for most of my life most people in the USA had access to good jobs and pensions and most products were made here by union workers, and everybody got raises every year. Such institutions as the public schools, the Post Office, and Social Security were essential parts of American life that were never questioned, let alone reviled and attacked. (In that sense, I was born at just the right time… younger people will never have the pension I have, or the long vacations at work (you remember our 3-4 week stays at Kinapic) or the health care or tuition exemption, etc; all of that is gone… except maybe for teachers) (so far...) I was also lucky that in all the 50 years I worked (with a few exceptions that probably don't add up to more than year - CIA, Inwood Garage, Mt. Sinai), I never had to commute… assuming 2 hours a day for commuting, that comes to 24,000 hours I didn't have to waste on buses and trains — three years.

(Speaking of those 50 years I worked, the whole time I was paying into Social Security and Medicare, and since at least the 1980s "conservatives" have been trying to take it away and put us all on "vouchers". Medicare didn't start until 4 years after I started working.)

The military

In the 1940s and 50s and 60s, everybody was familiar with the armed forces and most families had somebody in them because of the draft or included WWII veterans, or they lived on or near a military base, or in communities where most of the families were military. Since we didn't have constant multiple wars with people coming home in caskets every day, it was more like just a job; people in the Army were simply GIs or soldiers or grunts, not "warriors" or "heroes", and almost all the males I knew in high school wound up in the Army. Before Vietnam, the USA wasn't flooded by veterans with PTSD, or chickenhawk politicians beating their breasts about the patriotism and honor of our gallant troops, while simultaneously cutting funds to support them (VA, etc). But now, according to an October 2017 Washington Post article), "it can be difficult for many Americans to encounter military families. Fewer than 1 percent of the population currently serve in uniform, and 7 percent are military veterans." (When I went to the Bronx DMV to renew my license in 2018 and get a Veteran stamp on it, I asked the lady did she get many veterans, she said I was the first.) Yet all we ever hear about in mass media is heroism and sacrifice and Gold Star families, yet when soldiers are killed in some place we never even heard of before, like Niger, nobody asks "What the heck are they doing in NIGER???" Since the end of the draft in 1973, the military has has been the employment of last resort for the poor while affluent families never even think about it. Two different and totally separate worlds.

Syndromes and allergies

When I was young, people were just people, not walking bundles of syndromes. There was no Aspergers, no Alzheimer's, no ADD, no ADHD, no OCD, no bipolar, no autism; there were just quirks that people had, some more than others. Of course there were labels for people, but just a few basic ones: colored, white, retarded, senile, etc. I say this because, in retrospect, there might well have been some syndromes in my family. The foregoing is not to say that all the new symptoms aren't real; see next paragraph.

Similarly, kids weren't allergic to wheat, eggs, peanuts, and other common foods; they could eat anything. Also when I was young, I hardly ever saw young men who were bald; now it seems half of all males are bald by age 30. Probably it's a result of things that changed after the 1950s or 60s: toxins introduced into foods and the environment to increase corporate profits and/or the fact that countless electromagnetic waves are passing through our bodies 2/47… computer screens, WiFi, cell phones, cars with radar, etc, orders of magnitude more of all these, at more frequencies, with more power than when there was only radio and broadcast TV. The chemicals, pesticides, additives, industrial waste, and radiation that are everywhere can't be good for us. With all the crap we pump into the air, soil, and water, the world's species are disappearing faster than anybody can keep track of. Nothing like this has ever happened before in human history.

And now cell phones are going to have wireless earbuds — "airbuds" — kicking up the radiation another notch and practically embedding corporate messaging in your own bodies (nobody has mentioned this yet, but if a cell phone can transmit to your earbuds, so can anything else: "Buy", "Consume", "Obey"....)

It only occurred to me just now, but I'll bet they start coming out with "self-charging" cell phones, charged by microwaves broadcast from all the cell towers, so for the sake of total on-demand connectivity, we'll all slowly cook to death… And most people won't even mind!

When I was kid...


Most recent update:  3 July 2022