America’s central question
I remember once reading an Indian guru, who said that if the water buffalo had a god, it would probably look like a very large water buffalo. He believed that there is only one god, formless and all pervading, but that he/she/it responds to intense worship by taking on the form that most pleases his/her/its devotees depending on their temperament and station in life.
I am beginning to think that the goddess of paranoia pursues a similar strategy: she appears to the crunchy granola/ruccola crowd as global warming and to the deep fried Mars Bar set as black helicopters.
To each of her myriad of devotees she appears in the form most guaranteed to seduce and charm them, but at bottom, there is no paranoia but paranoia and the media is her witness.
I was reminded of an incident from the darkest days of the Second World War, a time with millions of human beings freshly dead, or about to die, with European civilization ground to dust or burned to ashes, when there, deep in his bomb poof bunker, Winston Churchill sent a pudding back to the kitchen, complaining that it had “no theme”.
That, I think is problem with America’s free floating paranoia: like Winnie’s dessert, the paranoia pudding that Americans are collectively pulling, has no “theme”.
Once president Obama did touch briefly on what I do believe is the goddess’s true form.
We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled. That, too, is what sets us apart as a nation. – President Barack Obama
I disagree, I think the opposite is precisely the truth and that is what “sets us apart as a nation”…. And I can prove it with a few simple graphs:
Actually this is exactly what doesn’t set us apart, here is the entire world’s estimated distribution of wealth:
Or this graph.
So if there is one thing the American people are not is a “family” with “common goals”. One percent of the population controls thirty five percent of the net worth. Twenty percent of the population controls eighty five percent of that wealth. That leaves no less than eighty percent of the population to divide up the remaining fifteen percent of the wealth left over.
How does that sort of wealth distribution play out in real life? Here is a reading of America’s mood from a survey by Pew Research:
The survey finds that a majority of the public (57%) says it is very difficult or difficult to afford things they really want. About the same percentage said this two years ago (55%). And for many Americans, affording basic necessities remains a struggle – 51% say it is difficult to afford health care, 48% say the same about their home heating and electric bills, and 29% say it is difficult to afford food. – Pew Research Center
As James Kunstler says:
The underlying cause of all America woes is the inequality of income distribution and such a large percentage of the population hungry and without adequate medical care etc. This is the sort of numbers and percentages (I almost forgot the percentage of incarcerated) that occur in third world countries, where people are not being told from morning to night that they live “in the greatest country in the world” day in and day out. The cognitive dissonance between reality as it is lived and the national narrative, induces a paranoia which is expressed differently by different sectors of the society. At this level the “black helicopter” and the polar bears are simply ways of “personalizing” a common malaise. I myself happen to belong to the climate warming tribe of paranoiacs, while others belong to the Tea Party tribe… different strokes for different folks…. but we are all of us (including POTUS) just whistling past the graveyard.