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General Interest, Politics

MODERN MYTHS EXPLORED

When we think of myths and legends we think of bygone ages, when ignorance and superstition was the order of the day. Back in the day, diseases were considered to be the result of “ill humors” best treated by shutting up the afflicted in airless, filthy rooms and treated with appallingly bizarre medicines and potions that gave the sick body one more stiff challenge to overcome on top of whatever disease they had. Sort of explains those average 40-year life spans. In those dark days, people who demonstrated any ability out of the ordinary were considered witches or demons, and they were either burned alive or put on trial by being thrown into a river. If the accused drowned, they were innocent, but if they could swim and survived the ordeal, that proved their guilt and another bonfire was built.

Otherwise reasonable people actually believed this stuff, and a whole lot more ridiculous things, and the powers-that-be at the time, Monarchs and The Church, actively encouraged such ignorance and unreasonable fear, the better to control the masses. And it worked like a charm for untold centuries, although at the expense of human progress. But human progress was of little concern to the wealthy and privileged, who had already progressed light years ahead of their subjects in terms of education, sophistication, nutrition, health, wealth, life spans and general ease of living. They saw no need to change the status quo when they had the whole world at their service.

But, progress happened anyway in spite of their best efforts to stifle it, and in fits and starts humanity has arrived in the modern era, or as least as modern as can be under the circumstances. Those circumstances are the stubborn retention of myths by humanity, invented and illogical beliefs that fly in the face of reality and experience. Just one small example is the notion that homosexuals are homosexual by choice. Well, let’s examine the thinking process that would entail: “Well, I am human and so have free will, at liberty to decide what sort of life I will lead. Hmm… now, which lifestyle choice will be guaranteed to shatter my family, expose me to universal scorn and derision and guarantee that I am stripped of many or the basic human rights enjoyed by everyone else, and pretty much ensure a lifetime of agony, guilt and isolation? I got it! I’ll be gay!”

Has 5% of humanity come up with the same solution? Seems excessive and quite dubious. Of course that is nothing but a myth, and a ridiculous one at that, yet one as persistent and the belief in demons and witches. Science and medicine is certain that homosexuality is as much a choice as being freckled, tall or left-handed, in other words, in-born. Then again, physical and medical scientists in the Middle Ages struggled against the popular notions that the earth was the center of the universe and that the plague was God’s punishment of the wicked. Inch by tedious inch, eyes were opened and myths debunked, only to be replaced by new myths. Take that whole American Dream myth where anybody can grow up to become president. Thankfully that is not the case, otherwise there would be more family-connected idiots like Bush the Younger and fewer remarkable men like Abraham Lincoln.

Yes, but what about the other part of the American Dream, the part where anyone can get rich? In some cases that are few and far between, that is true and America has many famous people who went from rags to riches, their stories being so popular because they were so singular. For the most part, the rich stay rich, the poor stay poor and the middle stays somewhere in the middle. And the rich fight every instance of social progress introduced as a threat to their monopoly on being rich, from fair pay for a day’s work to Women’s Suffrage to Social Security to Civil Rights to Universal Heath Care, and in all cases seek to enflame the middle classes that these thing are a threat to them as well.

An the middle classes have accommodated them admirably like serfs hopping to their masters’ service, even though the top 1% of Americans possesses more wealth than the bottom 95% of all Americans combined. That 95% includes the entire middle class, precious few of whom will ever join the 1% ruling elite, the ownership class. Any who support legislation that would benefit any but the 1% are derided as Socialists, which has somehow become a curse word in this nation, on a par with “witch” or “demon.” Which is odd, because almost every wealthy person is the beneficiary of socialist programs, from tax breaks and write-offs to direct subsidies for their corporations, or in the form of phony “farm subsidies,” where they agree not to grow alfalfa on their tennis courts and horse paddocks for a hefty annual stipend.

The rest of America has to make do with what they earn in salary, money-wise, but there are many socialist programs from which we all benefit, and not just Social Security and Medicare. There are the sidewalks that line our streets, for one thing. We didn’t have to build them, the government did. There are the Police and Fire departments and Boards of Education in every locale that operate at no charge to the citizenry. Then there is the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard who defend us and fight our wars, and none of them gets to send out a monthly bill like the Cable TV company. Our interstate highways can be used by anyone for free, even demons and witches, er, that is… Socialists.

Our so-called Capitalist System is riddled with Socialism, which is just fine with the capitalists so long as they are the greatest beneficiaries of governmental largesse. The corporate welfare system in this nation dwarfs the payments and benefits given needy individuals. And the poorest recipients of welfare and social benefits are subject to far greater regulation than our wealthy corporations, who want it both ways, having both an unregulated free market and a steady flow of Socialist subsidies. This corporate socialism has created a vast pyramid scheme where those at the top remain there and those occupying the various layers beneath this 1% of Americans pretty much stay put as well, with minimal flow upward and downward within the lower 95%. And the recent tax cuts handed to this 1% by Shotgun Dick Cheney and Bush The Younger only cemented their position at the top by transferring trillions of dollars from the middle classes in the middle of the pyramid to those at the pinnacle.

So, the myth being propagated by the wealthy and shouted from rooftops by their Pavlovian Minions of the Middle Class that President Obama is an evil Socialist is very curious, especially in the light of his making huge Socialist payments to the financial industry to save them from collapsing under their own greed. When he proposes a Socialist program like Universal Heath Care for every American, only then is his Socialism deemed to be evil and anti-American. You’d think they would have waited a decent interval between their free money payments and their anti-Obama campaign. Talk about biting the hand, eh? And a lot of people are lining up to drink that Kool Aid, a great many of whom have benefitted by the Socialist programs of Unemployment Insurance, Social Security and Medicare, to say nothing of the government-provided smooth streets and sidewalks where they hold their rallies.

It is a sight to warm the heart of the 1% in the penthouses high atop the “Capitalist Pyramid.” Well, if Socialism is good for the capitalists (and it has been very, very good), let’s have a little more for the rest of us, even if the rich and the corporations have to start paying their fair share of taxes again. And if the average net worth of the top 1% dips below 10 or 20 million apiece, well, they can always start saving their soda cans for the nickel deposit and cutting coupons from the Sunday papers like everyone else. Just don’t let them make up the difference from our struggling hides anymore, as they have been doing for a long, long time. So much for the myth of Free Market Capitalism.

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