Cloud of Unknowing

May 27, 2011

Who’s making money? Money is being made, but who’s making it?

Employment statistics in the USA are as torpid as the air in the House of Representatives until some brave fool brings up the plight of labor and the middle class. In that pit of vipers the only things they get fired up about is pushing money uphill into the coffers of the rich while handing out worthless vouchers to grandma to buy health insurance in her declining years. Dumping elders off a pier into a lake of piranhas would be as efficient a way for society to deal with the problem of aging as handing them a coupon to take to an insurance company as Republicans insist. Given the natural physical deterioration of old age it’s a fat chance Blue Cross will be hot to accept them. Or, alternately (considering the fundamentals of capitalism), it’ll cash them in first then inform grandma later, when she’s diagnosed with colon cancer, that she’s not covered for anything more expensive than Metamucil. Where will medicare-murdering Paul Ryan be then?

The country’s reverting more and more to the days of the wild-west every minute. The big ranchers are taking over. They’re cornering water and grazing rights and setting up toll booths on trails across this-land-is-their-land land. The sheriff’s in their pocket and they call the hanging judge Scalia.

Mark Provost at reports that a former member of Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, Christina Romer, “…accuses the administration of ‘shamefully ignoring’ the unemployed,” and economist Paul Krugman is right there with her. He says Washington has lost interest in “the forgotten millions.”

A cloud of unknowing has settled over the White House as thick as the cloud of volcanic ash the president just cut short his trip to Ireland to avoid.

In 1375 someone famously known as Anonymous wrote a little book called The Cloud of Unknowing which explored the gap between God and what his creatures know of him; a gap that can only be bridged by a leap of faith. But the fog enveloping the White House is not that cloud of unknowing. The one enveloping the administration might more accurately be called The Cloud of Ignoring —the main benefit of ignoring things being that you tend to forget about them. Believe me, I know. I used this technique many times in my life before I understood that a small foul ignored too long becomes a giant chicken when it comes home to roost. When convenient ignorance descends, a Cloud of Ignoring becomes a cloud of unknowing. Low class hurt winds up being treated as an hallucination until nothing is real except what the most well-positioned liars say.

While old Anonymous’ cloud of unknowing represented the gap in human knowledge of God, the one the administration has lost its head in has to do with the gap between economic growth and job creation. The one that makes it possible for big money to say the economy’s improving while employment remains stagnant. Provost says this gap is reinforced by several factors: “US corporate governance, Obama’s economic policies and the deregulation of US labor markets.”

Corporations do what they do to benefit themselves and their shareholders; it’s in the nature of capitalism. Recessions have happened before and were recovered from —job markets eventually rebounded. But in this particular instance, according to a JP Morgan research report (not exactly a liberal think tank), corporations are experiencing growth in profits because the “…entire profit recovery has been predicated…on declining labor costs … like none before it.”

In other words corporations are profiting because your wages are declining or non-existent. The economic recovery you hear about in the media is a recovery not for average Americans, but for corporations and those bought by corporations —a recovery of auto companies, of banks and other financial institutions, of the oil industry, and of politicians through newly legal infusions of cash from business. That last is one of the reasons government is doing little or nothing about it. The US government has become virtually owned by corporations. The problem is systemic. It’s the result of the corruption of election financing, a system in which money is defined by Supreme Court Justices like Anthony Scalia and John Roberts as free-speech.

But it’s really not speech —expect in the sense that money talks (or as Bob Dylan said, it swears); and it’s not free. Somebody pays. In this case American labor is pays —and as you, young person, will pay when you get too old to be attractive to Aetna —that is if Paul Ryan and his den of well-suited shysters have their Ayn Randian, super-capitalist way.

Author Carl McColman says of the The Cloud of Unknowing (the book) that one of its remarkable features is “that it advocates the use of a single-syllable ‘prayer word’ to effectively discipline the mind and to keep it focused while the heart attempts to grow in its … task of loving God. This spiritual exercise involves repeating a short word like ‘God’ or ‘love’ … in order to help … seek the place of inner silence, where one may “be still and know” the God who is lavish love.” It’s a form of meditation.

Republicans, as a party, seem to have their own god and act as if they’ve been doing just that, meditating on and muttering one word over and over as they move through their minutes and hours and days. And they’ve adopted as their political mission a merciless campaign to get the whole country muttering that word over and over until all hell breaks loose. The word is “Me”.

What will improve our prospects for success and survival into the future is to ditch that word for another —the word “We.”

by Jim Culleny, 5/27/11
for the Greenfield Recorder,
Greenfield, MA



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