Iris Dement recorded this in 1996; she saw things pretty clearly then, even though she must be shocked by the ever more egregious conditions have been ladled upon us eight years later, creating a toxic People’s Miasma that will be hard to set aright … later. If you’d rather see the lyrics while listening, you can.

My wish is that this might be a post on which you can tell your own stories of The Wasteland, and provide contextual narratives that reflect your experiences under such degrading capitalist corporatocracy. Many here are relatively comfortable, but may indeed have friends and loved ones who are suffering the slings and burning arrows of outrageous fortune being loosed upon us. Yes, we fear for own futures, but even more for those of our children, their children, and our big blue-green ball of a planet itself.

There are a few things Iris didn’t know back then, but she still was pissed enough to step out of her musical comfort zone to protest so passionately.  ‘Kissing asses for corporate cash’ is now an entrenched system of revolving doors between the public and private sectors; now they all kiss their own floggin’ asses and love it. No, ‘democracy’ is dead, as is the Rule of Law. And no, Ben Franklin; we weren’t even able to keep our Republic, were we? Fundie preachers not so Christ-like? Well, Hobbies Lobby against women’s health, and life begins with a zygote. Because: We.Say.So.

When I read a couple news items the other day, these lines just kept on reverberating in my head:

We got little kids with guns fighting inner city wars
So what do we do, we put these little kids behind prison doors
and we call ourselves the advanced civilization
that sounds like crap to me

Not only do we put these kid in prison, but Minors remain jailed for life despite US supreme court ban on such sentences,’ stir in unknown numbers of kids in solitary confinement, and it makes this nation exceptional indeed.

When I saw the photos of ‘unaccompanied’ kids having fled across the border from ‘Our Backyard™’, locked in wire cages on the AZ and TX borders waiting to discover their fates, I wept at our nation’s inhumanity, and its having turned the Statue of Liberty on her head, putting an automatic rifle in her hands for good measure.  But when I read this, smoke came out of my ears:

Today it emerged that despite the influx Vice President Joe Biden believes more, not fewer, immigrants should come to America.

Speaking to a National Association of Manufacturers’ crowd this week he called for a ‘constant, unrelenting stream’ of new immigrants — ‘not dribbling (but) significant flows,’ to bolster the national economy, The Hill reported.

‘We need it badly from a purely — purely economic point of view,’ Mr Biden said, The Hill reported.’

Pffft.  Yes, indeed: because profit, Mr. VP.  You and Your King of the Deporters sidekick Prez, though, and his plans for kids fleeing Central America for their lives might want to take a look at some of the underlying causes in ‘Child Migrants and Media Half-Truthsby Laura Carlsen, or Villeda/Zelaya’s ‘Why Are Honduran Children Leaving? (not that they can’t guess that ‘Free Trade agreements’ and US drug and foreign policy and the odd putsch might not be just a bit relevant here.

But it’s alright, ma; they’re only brown kids.  (Living in the wasteland of the free)

The poor haven’t just become  ‘the enemy’, but are fodder for the industrial prison complex, with trumped up charges for drugs, or failure to pay the fines ordered by the courts.  “Are there no prisons?  Are there no workhouses?”  Colorado, at least, has enacted some mitigation against the trend.  Ship their jobs overseas if they ask for anything more?  They killed the Commies, then the Socialists, then the unions (most recently by Democrat gate-keeping), and folks feel lucky to even have Walmartish jobs with no benefits, ‘Living in the Wasteland of the ‘Free’.  But woot!  The DOW’s at 16,970 (thank you, Fed), and we’re on the road to recovery again!  Another surge! 

And oh, those kids who can’t pass reading tests?  Or geography tests?  Do any of you live in or near a ‘school desert’ area, as Chicago has become thanks to Rahm and Arne, But it’s alright, ma; they’re mainly black kids (and teachers). 

And let’s not leave out Paul Vallas, or uber-philanthropist Bill Gates, please. Murder a public school, raise it from the dead as private for profit. Commodify Everything!

‘While we sit gloating in our greatness
justice is sinking to the bottom of the sea’

In a land where activists and dissenters have been labeled by the security state as ‘terrorists’, ‘fair trial’ is often an oxymoron, and two-tiered injustice is the rule of the day…yes, Iris.  Justice has been subverted wholesale.  From the original Time Traveler:

I think we are in rats’ alley
Where the dead men lost their bones

~ T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

You’ve likely heard about the ‘Vision 2025’ plan to close all Social Security field offices by that year, and may know that just as the Boomers are ready to collect, 80 offices were closed over the past year or two. Because austerity, and surely, as with the postal service dismemberment, it’s a step in the grand design to privatize the service. You know how that will work for the poor and elderly who don’t have computers, but maybe the PTB just don’t fucking care. Hard to say who cares much about the burgeoning numbers of disenfranchised voters who can’t manage to get photo ID’s either. Whether or not they would have chosen to vote or not, they should have the right.

But it’s alright, ma; I’m only bleeding…

A brief snaphsot from our house:

Our nearest SS field office was shuttered a decade ago, thus necessitating a 66-mile round trip to Durango, CO for aid. How many folks can handle that?

Recently Mr. wd did all the legwork to see when I should ask for my SS payments, looking at all the numbers and factors. We decide yeppers, now would be good time to collect. What I hadn’t known was that much like the disappeared hundreds of billions in the Indian Minerals Trust Account, the agency would have mooked up my records. I’ve worked my entire life, had made good money doing bodywork for the past 25 of my working years, filed my SE reports faithfully, and they have graciously sent me a grand total of $468 dollars a month to live on. Whoa, Nellie… And no proof have I to contest their figures. Yeah, guess I shouldn’t have tossed the forms as per the Paperwork Reduction Act, eh? (Fool.)

Now Mr. wd still has a job, but his job future is very insecure, and it’s hard to imagine that a 66-yer-old master carpenter would find other work, eh? But we’ve lived life on faith for long time, so…we’ll make out. But we do jest that we have to keep him alive and well to make ends meet. That said, we’re so much better off than so many others in this nation that it’s not funny. But we are careful with our money, and recently the prices have gone up so high that it’s a bit alarming.  Combing through the grocery circular for ‘deals’ is depressing now, displayed items often say ‘Everyday Price’ in small letters. Packages of the same size most often contain 20% less product; meats are so pricey that those of us who feel they need some (Blood Type diet advice) use it as a garnish, rather than a dish. Fortunately I bought a dozen sacks of legumes, rices, pastas, etc. through our coop that are stored in the food cellar, as well as many dried herbs, spices, and mushrooms. Land taxes are higher every year, and the Assessor never did lower them to reflect the paltry prices paid over the past six years. But clearly, that we can still afford high-speed internet says that we have … more than most, as well as a little hand-built passive solar house to live in. Blessings writ large, iow, but not what we’d imagined for ourselves.

But oh, dear; please excuse my many digressions. But please: tell us to what extent you and yours are Living in the Wasteland of the ‘Free.’ Your stories matter, as they are not just raw data, and matter to all of us, or at least should. That we are all in this together should be dawning on more and more of us, and that:

It is in the shelter of each other that the people live’.

~ Irish proverb

Cross-posted at Café