Had an epiphany this morning. Well, more of an affirmation really, that things are every bit as bad as I thought they were. As bad as I’ve read and heard they are from those who are supposed to know about issues like real unemployment after millions of jobs have been off-shored never to return, as the gap between the rich and the rest grows from being just wide to historically chasmatic.
My sisters just drove from one coast to the other taking a lot of side-roads to get a really good look at America, a feel for reality rather than just zipping by on the interstates, pulling over only for gas and a sandwich before rushing on. It was a kind of remake of the old “Route 66” tv show with Martin Milner and George Maharis, except that this time it was my sisters and Lucy the Bernese Mountain Dog in a Volvo crossover instead of two guys in a Corvette convertible. Almost the same thing.
I hadn’t heard from them since their last stop in Morgantown, West Virginia, until this morning, when one of them emailed, saying they had completed their journey and that, “People can’t afford to fix their cars or paint their houses all the way across this country. ”
And there it was.
This wasn’t coming from someone speculating about the real world impact of the Wall Street crash and the off-shoring of jobs. This was a first-hand account of someone who just crossed the country by car, actually taking a look around the heartland, as opposed to crunching numbers in a cubicle and then sending them out in a news release to the media in New York and L.A.
While Baltimore burned, down in Washington, Mr. Obama and the Prime Minister of Japan met with reporters in the Rose Garden, trumpeting the advantages of their new “Trans Pacific Partnership” deal, the “TPP,” just as others from earlier administrations told us how much we’d benefit from NAFTA, CAFTA and the WTO.
We’ve heard it all before, fellas.
And Bernie Sanders is running. I hope people take him seriously. I hope he can raise enough money to take on the Clintons and the other millionaires and billionaires who have a lock on the system. If Americans can’t afford to paint their houses or fix their cars, it only follows that there is so much more they can’t afford, like dental care and decent food. Or a way out of the projects in a city like Baltimore, where economic disparity and social injustice stand side by side, blocking the American dream.