Welcome to 2008 .. the neocon version of food and fuel rationing?
To anyone who remembers the 1970s, the current absence of any calls for food and fuel price stabilization measures is quite astounding. Back during the era of the first oil shock of that decade, we saw even/odd distribution rules at the fuel pumps. Ration cards were printed but were ultimately never distributed. By all measures, the prices of gasoline, diesel, heating oil, and crude oil have exceeded the inflation-adjusted levels at which we rolled out price control measures in past years.
The passage of time since then has softened, though not obscured, the fact that our nation’s administrators have gotten more hawkish in general over the intervening years. (I’d call it “progressively more hawkish” but there’s nothing progressive about it, any more than Hitler was a progressive.) The New Deal, if you tried enacting such a thing now, would be tossed out as being “too socialist” or “not friendly enough to private business interests”.
Perhaps it was only during a kinder, more liberal era (now long gone, sadly) when we would have considered such a thing as the rationing of food and fuel. After all, these are basic measures to control prices and to ensure that all citizens, regardless of age or economic standing, have access to the resources necessary to continue living and working.
Does any of that ring a bell for anyone? The people being hardest hit by the rising prices of food and fuel (poor families with more children, anyone living on a fixed income, etc) are the ones we can least afford to ignore. It is not necessary, in what we consider to be an era of prosperity through technology or through better organization, for the disparity between rich and poor to be increasing instead of decreasing. Their problems, if not addressed, will spill over into other kinds of problems of the type we really don’t want to have on our hands.
So why haven’t we got any calls for price controls and for rationing of essentials? For starters, the “.. but think of the children!” meme has been replaced with “.. but is it fair to Exxon and Haliburton?” or something disturbingly like it. We are already taught not to countenance the prospect of a free public healthcare system here in the US because, gosh, it wouldn’t be fair to those HMO administrators wanting to make millions in bonuses every year for denying needed care to the plan subscribers. The idea of the health of specific business interests has effectively replaced the idea of the health of the general community in which we live. This is a form of fascism, which is better known as the merger of corporate and political interests. (The jackboots, the bold and gaudy colors displayed in the capitol, the political persecution of the naysayers, and the propensity for military adventure are but side effects of fascism; the primary move is to enrich certain corporate interests.)
We are already halfway into the implementation of a rationing system here in the US, only it’s based on money and affluence rather than on one’s simple humanity and the fact of one’s citizenship.
For all the single mothers out there who can’t afford to drive anymore, well, it’s their fault for not having higher-paid jobs, right? Or it’s their fault for having children in the first place, right? Or for not going twenty-something thousand dollars into debt to get a Prius? And for all the senior citizens living on fixed incomes, it’s their fault for being unable to afford food and heating fuel and medication now, right?
The business interests that control (or outright own) this nation’s administrators know well that they make the most money when the people are fragmented, unable to cooperate, and placed in individual hamster wheels and made to spin the wheel in order to get another food pellet. Community is powerful, and these same corporate interests seem intent on erasing the very cultural memory of things ever having been different.
Welcome to our brave new world .. if you’re not rich, you’re out of luck. But that’s not the half of it.
One quarter of the world’s people in jail are jailed in the US. Our incarceration rate is the highest in the world, exceeding even that of the former Soviet Union during the cold war era. We have more people in prison than China does, despite having only one-quarter the population that China does. It costs more than I make in a year to keep one person behind bars for a year. Some of them even have lifetime sentences for the commission of non-violent crimes. Were we to include the incarcerated people as officially unemployed, as other nations do, our official unemployment numbers would look more true.
What we will most likely see here next will be nothing less than the Lebanonization of America. The same military talking heads who thought up Baghdad’s “green zone” concept are doing the same thing in Washington, DC. Don’t think this is a one-shot thing. There will be a lot of returning Crusaders with fresh military experience suppressing the locals in an urban setting.
Want to undo the evil-doers currently in charge of the asylum? Get to know your neighbors and work out a barter scheme for everything from food to firewood to babysitting to gardening to sharing rides to house-watching to making do with what you’ve got. If you absolutely need durable goods, buy used instead of new, or repair an older model and keep it running if you can, or make it yourself if you can.
Community is powerful.