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Fri Jun 8, 2012, 12:24 PM

 

Barack Obama and Me: A Tale of Two Americas

"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." When Charles Dickens wrote those words to begin A Tale of Two Cities, he might have been describing the United States of America in the first two decades of the new millennium. Barack Obama, a black American risen from humble conditions, is President of the United States when just 50 years earlier he would not have even been allowed to eat at the same lunch counter as many of the whites whose children would subsequently vote for him.

Wow. That is one big WOW!

But . . .

50 years ago it would have been unthinkable that 6 Americans (heirs to the WalMart family fortune) would control as much wealth between them as the bottom 30 million Americans combined. 50 years ago it would have been unthinkable that 1% of the population would control 40% of the wealth of this country and that 10% would control 80% of the wealth. 50 years ago it would have unthinkable that 50 million Americans would be living in poverty.

Wait. Cancel that last statement. Strike a line through it. For the fact is that, 50 years ago, before the advent of LBJ's Great Society programs, 50 million Americans probably did live in poverty. And today, in 2012, 50 million Americans are living in poverty. So some things have not changed much.

I have been unemployed now for over 18 months. My unemployment compensation had been keeping me afloat. I was in the final 20-week extension, the so-called FED-ED extension, when my unemployment compensation was abruptly terminated as of May 12, because California no longer qualifies for the FED-ED monies. The termination was abrupt with very little advance warning and now I am having to use up my meager savings to stay afloat while desperately casting about for other ways to secure an income. Once those savings run out, I will have no choice but to start tapping my retirement accounts and watching any hopes I might have had for a reasonably comfortable retirement vanish into the Dickensian future that awaits.

And that's not even to mention healthcare. I have no health insurance. Two dental procedures for my wife and me were put on an installment plan with no interest, but that's $75/month of cash going out while none is coming in. My wife and I are walking around with loaded guns to our heads. Should catastrophic illness strike either of us, we will face lives of penury and ruin.

I can't help feeling that my government has abandoned me, that I am like those hapless survivors of Katrina who remained behind, waiting for aid that never seems to come. Over 50 now, I have come face to face with age discrimination that, while technically illegal, is openly practiced with wild abandon by employers who want only people willing to work for peanuts or in unpaid internships. I have sent out over 2,000 resumes in the past 18 months, had numerous interviews, none of which resulted in an offer. And California's unemployment rate is still over 10%, maybe not high enough to keep people like me receiving unemployment compensation, but high enough to ensure that employers need not comply with the law nor hire anyone not young and beautiful.

So I am happy for Barack Obama. I am happy that he, a black man from modest origins, has become President. I am happy for his wife and daughters too, happy they will never have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, happy that, should they get sick, they will not have to go without medical care due to a lack of resources or insurance. I am happy their father will never have to worry about losing his home to foreclosure or his car to repossession.

I am happy for Barack Obama.

But I live in a different America than the one he inhabits. In my America, people stay with jobs they hate or where they are mistreated, because they are one paycheck away from homelessness. In my America, people are losing their homes, their cars, their health, their livelihoods and their self respect. Every day. No hope in sight.

Barack Obama does not live in my America. I am happy for President Obama but he does not even know or care that I exist.

Keep reading: http://ayearatvenicebeach.blogspot.com/?view=classic

Please feel free to leave me a comment here or at the blog.

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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply Barack Obama and Me: A Tale of Two Americas (Original post)
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 OP
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #1
sabrina 1 Jun 2012 #2
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #5
sabrina 1 Jun 2012 #7
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #11
Tarheel_Dem Jun 2012 #3
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #4
Tarheel_Dem Jun 2012 #6
TheKentuckian Jun 2012 #15
Tarheel_Dem Jun 2012 #17
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #8
99Forever Jun 2012 #9
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #10
Egalitarian Thug Jun 2012 #12
sabrina 1 Jun 2012 #13
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #14
Egalitarian Thug Jun 2012 #16
coalition_unwilling Jun 2012 #18

Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 12:31 PM

1. Had a copy-n-paste posting glitch so kicking this only once to re-start this - n/t

 

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 12:58 PM

2. I am so sorry. It really is heart-breaking that so many people are out of work and without

HC in this country. I guess I don't know how it got to this point, for a while the US was a good place to live for a majority of the people, except for those without HC. But we always seemed to working towards fixing the problems we had, Civil Rights, eg, which took a long time and is still a work in progress.

But over the past decade all the good work done has been reversed. And in many ways, it is our own fault, because we were not vigilent enough.

I know it must be scary for you and your wife right now. I will keep you in my thoughts.

I am sure you will get some heartless comment on this thread which is something else I've noticed lately, a section of the 'left' who appear to have little sympathy for the people of this country. It used to not be that way either.

:hugs:

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #2)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 01:12 PM

5. I just put some bozo on Ignore. I had run-ins with him in the past, so this

 

was entirely predictable.

Thanks for your supportive words. I really wish I could feel more hopeful. And I really am happy for BHO, as I told my wife yesterday. He proves that it is possible to rise from humble origins. And that's a good thing, no two ways about it.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #5)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 01:41 PM

7. Yes, it is possible. But since Reagan began the destruction of the Middle Class is has become much

harder. Otoh, I think more people are waking up to the fact that those policies, which a few misguided Democrats sadly, did go along with (Reagan Democrats eg) are poison for the Working class.

About Obama, this week he announced that the Bush tax cuts would not be extended which was a very good thing. I think most Americans agree with that, across party lines.

But no sooner had he said it than Bill Clinton, NOT Glenn Greenwald btw, undercut him.

I think there is a struggle going on inside the Dem Party regarding these policies and it was very wrong of Clinton, especially on an issue like this, to so publicly disagree with the President.

I think people should let Clinton and any other democrats who do this kind of thing, know that when the President is right, the people will support him and they, especially Dems like Clinton need to keep their thoughts to themselves.

I do have hope, but recognize with all the money being poured into politics right now, it is going to be a very tough battle to restore the Middle Class.

But, as Wisconsin showed us, all the money in the world won't do much good when the people unite and fight against it. Wisc won three recalls, the media of course is pumping up Walker's survival, but the people took away under extremely difficult circumstances, his support in the Senate.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #7)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 04:27 PM

11. I've never understood the love-fest for Clinton that goes on here. (Yes, I voted for him

 

in 1992 and 1996.) From NAFTA to Welfare Reform, the policies and programs he implemented hurt the working class. Not as much as Reagan's, of course, but still a lot of unnecssary suffering occurred thanks to his policies.

I understand that Clinton has apologized unequivocally for the remarks you reference. Even so, the fact that he made them when he did and the stated reasons he gave for making them again subtract from Clinton's credibility. Sort of another "it depends on what the meaning of 'is' is" moment.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 01:07 PM

3. "but he does not even know or care that I exist." ?

I won't bother to click on your link, and while the body of the article is quite touching, that last quote is as full of shit as John Edwards. Two Americas?

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Response to Tarheel_Dem (Reply #3)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 01:10 PM

4. Wow, just wow. John Edwards is 'full of shit'? OK. I think

 

no further purpose is served by either of us reading what the other has to say, so I'm putting you on Full Ignore.

Have a nice life and all that stuff.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #4)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 01:27 PM

6. Is it news to you that John Edwards is a lying sack o' dog doo-doo? For you to get all huffy....

about Edwards, who to me is morally reprehensible, and trash the Obama administration daily speaks to your agenda.

For all the "heart string tugging" of the piece you posted, in the end it's just a dressed up hitpiece. How does this person go straight to blaming Pres Obama for his current predicament? If he's in CA, which is filled with tons of Democrats who represent that state, including Feinstein, Boxer, countless House Reps, Gov. Brown, Mayor Villagarosa, et al. But he jumps clear over all these folks to get to Pres. Obama? Really? Pres Obama "doesn't know or care that he exists"? You should be ashamed for disseminating this shit.

As for the snide shit about how well off the president's children are because of their parent's success, is gratuitous and nasty at best. The author should have left the president's family out of it.

As for Ignore? Knock yourself out. Thank goodness I can still see you, especially when you post crap like this.

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Response to Tarheel_Dem (Reply #3)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 09:46 PM

15. You don't have to be willing to touch Edwards with someone else's ten foot pole

to understand why that message resonated with people and to understand that there are at least two Americas and most of "small people" are not invited to the shining city on a hill brand one except to do the work to keep it shining for as little as they can get away with paying and less and less all the time.

It takes gall to Pooh pooh the sentiment when you consider the feudal like wealth disparity that we are brewing up, workers being striped of rights, an obscene prison population, and all the rest of the outlandish and often terribly wicked societal entropy we have.

Edwards might be more full of shit than the sewers of London, New York, Tokyo, Paris, LA, Chicago, and New Delhi all together but the message is far from it, Light years and light years, these are your people that suffer and if not now, eventually your ass will be in the same sling unless you are at the "stakeholder" and above levels and I suspect even they will get what is coming.

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Response to TheKentuckian (Reply #15)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 10:28 PM

17. Had the author stuck to his thesis, instead of taking gratuitous swipes at the president's kids.....

I would have been just as sympathetic as the next person. There was no need for the passive aggresive tone toward his children. They have nothing to do with their parents' successes and/or failures. They're children. What's so difficult about that?

As far as Edwards? He is living/walking/lying proof that the messenger is just as important as the message itself. While "Two Americas" was a great slogan, due to the sloganeer's undercover actions tainted the message. No one is denying the inequities in this country, you'd be fool to deny they exist. But I'd like the same respect shown to the president's underage children as I would demand for my own.

People are hurting, no doubt about it. But to say "the president doesn't know that I exist, or even care"? That was absolutely vicious, and uncalled for. My empathy has limits.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 03:26 PM

8. One further self-kick for the afternoon and weekend crowd - n/t

 

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 03:45 PM

9. I must live in the same America you do, brother.

And there are MILLIONS of us and our numbers grow every day. I'm pretty sure that NO ONE in Washington DC much gives a hoot about us. Beyond lipservice, we are expendable, and they DON'T CARE, not even a tiny bit. NONE of them. They care only about expanding their own power, wealth, and feathering their own nest. Screw the rest of us, dumb unconnected fools.

But they have forgotten one important thing. When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose. There will be a tipping point and then all bets are off.

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Response to 99Forever (Reply #9)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 04:09 PM

10. Thank you for your supportive words. I simply cannot understand why

 

a society where 6 people control as much wealth as 30 million people does not have people turning from the leadership in absolute disgust.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Original post)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 04:36 PM

12. K&R I'm sorry to have to welcome you to our gigantic club.

 

As someone else pointed out, when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose, and when there are enough people in that condition bad things happen.

Those that haven't been personally struck by this yet like to pretend "it isn't that bad", but it's coming and it's coming much faster than we believe.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #12)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 04:49 PM

13. I like your sig line!

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #12)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 06:51 PM

14. Thank you for the rec. I am reminded that, even at the heights of the

 

Great Depression when adult unemployment reached 25%, 3 out of 4 adults remained employed.

It's just that there is so much unnecessary suffering and no one in Washington really seems to 'get it.' I read somewhere that 16 million American children are facing sporadic food security problems, meaning American children are going to sleep hungry. That is what Dickens was talking about, I think.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #14)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 10:08 PM

16. YVW. If we were to calculate unemployment as they did then, we have reached comparable numbers

 

in this depression.

I find the attempt by a certain faction to minimize the scope of this disaster by claiming that this one isn't nearly as bad as the last one to be infuriating. We have massive unemployment, inhumane working conditions, a large and growing population of increasingly desperate people that, a few years ago, were productive tax-paying citizens, and another large population of nomadic travelers that wonder from place to place, temp job to temp job.

So just how was that worse than this? The younger, angrier man that I was wishes he could meet some of these assholes IRL, but they are cowards suited to the anonymity of the web.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #16)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 10:50 PM

18. I try to avoid getting into tit-for-tat bean-countery with my

 

Last edited Sat Jun 9, 2012, 02:48 AM - Edit history (1)

econometrician brethren and sisters. Suffice it to say that the Great Depression of the 30s did not have the safety nets (like unemployment insurance and food stamps) that we supposedly do. So, in some ways, this disaster is even worse than the one that came before, in the sense that not only is their massive suffering but the very safety nets themselves are frayed to the point of disintegrating.

For me, the killer stat is that 1% controls 40% of the wealth (and 10% controls 80% of the wealth). That obscene concentration of wealth has little precedent in our recent history and thus we lack the vocabulary to discuss its amelioration nor the habit of said discussion. But ameliorate it we must.

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