Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Simple Thoughts

I just had to share this...

This bit of nonsense surfaced in my In box this afternoon. With some trepidation, I'm going to quote it in its entirety...

John Smith started the day early having set his alarm clock
(MADE IN JAPAN ) for 6 am.
While his coffeepot
was perking, he shaved with his
electric razor
He put on a
dress shirt

designer jeans
tennis shoes
After cooking his breakfast in his new
electric skillet
he sat down with his
to see how much he could spend today. After setting his
to the radio
he got in his car
filled it with GAS
(from Saudi Arabia )
and continued his search
for a good paying AMERICAN JOB.
At the end of yet another discouraging
and fruitless day
checking his
(made in MALAYSIA ),
John decided to relax for a while.
He put on his sandals
poured himself a glass of
and turned on his
and then wondered why he can't
find a good paying job


----------End of Nonsense----------

A couple of things are wrong with this "poem."

First, our president was "made" in the United States, despite what birther skeptics keep babbling. By the way, if you search on Google for the string "president made in kenya," you'll get around 5200 hits, as of June 23.

Second, the notion that President Obama can reverse a trend that began well over two decades ago is delusional. American companies, like any other company anywhere, are always trying to reduce costs so they can increase their profit margin. If labor can be had more cheaply outside the US, and produce an equivalent or better product, these companies will jump on that option, build or lease factories, and hire foreign nationals. American companies were doing this when Barack Obama was in college, and even earlier. This president has been in office a year and a half; oh, sure, he's going to reverse decades of job loss in the US by signing a bill or issuing a proclamation. Sure he will. And I do believe he would love to be able to bring more manufacturing jobs back to the US, but that's a decision that American corporate management will have to make. Are they going to do that immediately? What do you think?

Something occurred to me yesterday, as I was trying to comment on an article about a possible anti-business attitude in American government. My comment, so cogently written and eloquent, wasn't accepted by the forum system. Their loss...

Anyway, Charles Wilson, President Eisenhower's Secretary of Defense, has been misquoted often, but actually said, "For years I thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa." The misquote comes out, "What's good for General Motors is good for the country."

If that's in fact true, then what might be good for the country would be what happened over the last couple of years to GM. They were bankrolled, bailed out, forced through a fast-track bankruptcy, and parts were sold off piece-meal or shut down all together. The General Motors that exists today has repaid the loans made to it by the Federal government, and has completely retooled their corporate culture. They are leaner, cleaner, and more competitive than they were before their existential crisis.

Is this what is going to have to happen to the country before we come to realize just how intertwined this world economy is? Are we going to have to go through the turmoil of something like GM's bankruptcy? I pray we won't have to, but sometimes I really wonder if we can avoid it. Unless we get a grip, and start realizing just how little freedom of movement we now have, we're going to be blindsided in a big way. We need to start acting, and thinking, and believing smart; the kind of simple-minded nonsense that's displayed in the excerpt above just won't do us any good. May God grant us deep insight going forward - we really need it.


Most of us aren't trustworthy.

In my previous post, I wrote about the worth of an opinion. How much do we trust the opinions we hear? How much credibility do we attach to what other people say, or write? In today's fractured, contentious American society, trust does not come easily.

Tea Party loyalists have a variable pantheon of people they trust. Sometimes a person can start out in the "Trusted" column, only to say or do something that doesn't reflect some set of conservative values, and they immediately get dumped by the loyalists for someone else. Litmus tests determine if a politician is a "conservative in name only."

Liberals are bent out of shape that the administration hasn't done more to advance a progressive agenda. Their support for President Obama has been shaken; some progressives have abandoned any hope that their favorite ideas will see implementation any time soon. The president's approval numbers show this starkly.

Middle-of-the-road voters, the moderates, are in a conundrum. Who should they vote for in November? Who should they believe? It's possible that many will be so alienated by the extremists on both sides of the political divide that they will just sit out this election entirely.

Who do you trust to deliver the goods?

I'm going to say right now that I'm with the folks who don't trust much of anyone to deliver what they promise. I'm not saying that I don't believe in some of the president's initiatives. I'm saying I don't believe he can bring them about. For all his oratory skills, for all his efforts to strike a note of bipartisanship, the president is saddled with a climate where immediate, visible results are what's demanded. People aren't seeing many of these. Consequently, the administration can't be trusted.

Corporations can't be trusted. Let's see if BP can recover from the mess they've made in the Gulf. Fancy public relations campaigns won't do it, eloquent spokespeople won't do it. The only thing that will bring them back from the brink will be success in stopping the leak, and cleaning up the oil. So far, there's little visible evidence of that, at least on the media.

Ah, the media... The 24-hour news cycle that seems to be the legacy of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1980, which contributed so enormously to Ronald Reagan's election victory, is the bane of my existence. Chattering pundits, talking heads, opinionated buffoons, twenty-four hours a day these blabbermouths tell us what the hell they think of this issue and that issue and the next issue. And we the viewers eat it up. My one respite is the OFF switch on the TV; I can shut these people up at a whim. Do you trust your reporter, columnist, or interviewer of choice? Really?

So who does this leave? Friends and family, who listen to the same news you do, who have the same preconceptions you do, who are in one way or another just as prejudiced as you are? Priests and ministers, who are concerned with how much is in the offering plate, or how many volunteers will sign up for the next workday at church, as well as with the integrity of their spiritual lives, and perhaps some deep, dark secret they just can't confess? Teachers and scientists, who are the conveyors of fact and wisdom and exploration of the world, and who have been shown again and again recently to have made up out of whole cloth their scientific research?

Who are we to trust? Whose opinion can we truly believe?

Well, I've made no secret in these posts that I view the world from a Christian perspective. One thing I've come to realize over the last dozen or so years is that Jesus the Messiah is not an American conservative. He puts little value on the ownership of private property, which appears to be the ultimate good in a lot of conservative and libertarian minds. In fact, he's downright socialist in his attitude about what property should be used for. He's not a proponent of military force, or gun ownership, or "American exceptionalism," for that matter. He would undoubtedly stir up the sweaty wrath of a Rush Limbaugh or the swoony conspiracy theories of a Glenn Beck, if he were to make statements in today's media. He said as much, when he walked the earth, that he was here to create division, not to smooth things over and make everything shiny and happy - at least not immediately. Jesus was here to upset the apple cart, and bring about a new kingdom.

We Christians have spent the last two thousand years trying to build that kingdom, with extremely variable success. Some things, like the Crusades, have been unmitigated disasters. Others, like the abolition of slavery in so much of the world, have been shining successes. Much work remains. So much of this world remains the shit-pile that Jesus found when he lived. Much work still must be done, by people of good will and a spirit like that of their Boss.

I don't know who anyone else trusts. I don't put much trust in other people, because they're just human beings, and their intentions can be thwarted, derailed by opposition, or killed all together. I don't even trust myself all that much. I want to do one thing, but find myself doing another. So who should I trust?

I'm going to say here and now that I will continue to trust in that man who lived in Judea two thousand years ago, that Man who preached the Good News of God's love and grace for His creatures and His Creation. I will trust in that one Man who more than any other person in history has changed the world. We are all heirs of His, adopted into the Family of His Father. Oh, we're like black-sheep brothers and sisters, but we still get invited to the banquet. I have faith in Him, and faith, as all Jesus-followers know, is believe in things unseen.

Am I delusional? Foolish? Only time will tell.