January 18, 2012
SOPA and the end of days
Late December, 2007 was the last time I went to bed sweetly oblivious to the world around me. In early 2008 I bought an iMac, spent months learning all the new bells and whistles, and started uploading creative material to the internet. Photos, videos, music files patched together with GarageBand, and I even started a new blog. Cracks were already beginning to appear in the facade of my life, however, cracks I tried very hard to ignore. An old friend I had not heard from in decades contacted me. My wife's company moved her desk to Singapore so she took a severance package. I visited my father for the first time in almost fifteen years. Spending time in Ohio made it impossible to ignore how claustrophic I'd become in Tokyo. There were entire weeks where I would never leave the confines of our apartment. The streets were too crowded. Parks saw fewer young families and more rowdy teenagers. Shopkeepers were becoming surly. I couldn't understand it, but I could feel something brewing.
Then came the American real estate collapse, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, TARP, and new, more abusive TSA policies. Weird and wild conspiracy theories about 9/11, the Mayan Calendar, HAARP, global economic warfare, and rumors of a shadowy multi-billionaire named "George Soros", all began to look less fantastic and more realistic. Then came the sudden rise to stardom of an unknown senator from Illinois who spent his time in the Senate voting "present" and making anti-war speeches. Time magazine called him, "Kenyan-born", and nobody even noticed. That article has since been buried, but an AP version of it is still available at Sunday Standard.
By July of 2008, Tokyo was suddenly much too far away from where I needed to be. It took a complex and delicate negotiation with my wife, but since she was no longer working she agreed that it might be time for us to retire in America. We came to Ohio for a visit, bought some land and arranged to have a house built.
Chaos continued to build. The quiet world of December, 2007 is now gone. The war in Iraq is over. American unemployment is hitting heights unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. For the first time in my life, the number of Americans collecting unemployment insurance is dwarfed by the number of those who have simply given up ever finding another job. After repeated failed attempts to get restrictive firearms laws passed by the Congress, the President and Attorney General colluded together to create a program that would have ATF agents escorting semi-automatic rifles into the hands of drug cartels so that they could blame American gun stores and gun shows.
When everyday Americans banded together in "Tea Party" chapters all over the nation and voted a new generation of fiscal conservative Republicans into the House of Representatives, a whole host of George Soros-funded online networking groups banded together to launch a counter-protest called (apparently with no sense of irony), "Occupy Wall Street". Young people flooded into parks and city squares in dozens of places across the United States to set up permanent camps demanding somebody do something. It must be pointed out that even now, some three months later, they still can't quite agree who should do what. Their protest bears all the same delusional trademarks as the "burning rage" espoused by blue collar blacks throughout the seventies after the civil rights movement had won them the right to be treated with the same contempt and ill-regard as poor whites. "Colored" drinking fountains and bathrooms quickly vanished in the south and now all that "burning rage" has been taken up by white college students unwilling to repay their student loans.
America, the land of my birth (and despite all these problems still the greatest country in the world), has always been a chaotic place. It is that chaos, that constant churning of cultural values, that has made it possible for genuinely oppressed people from all over the world to come here and build a better life for their families. Now instead of arguing over the status of Irish immigrants and the children of former slaves, we argue over the status of illegal immigrants from Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and most prominent of all, Mexico.
A couple days ago a television news commentator was talking about the need for immigration reform to "remove those laws which make it possible for millions of people to be abused by their employers and landlords". She completely ignored the fact that every time a genuine package of immigration reform is brought to the floor of the House of Representatives the Hispanic caucus and the Black caucus along with respresentatives from Nevada, New York and California, stand up to demand full amnesty for the estimated 20 million illegal aliens already here. These "undocumented workers" now live here because they ignored federal immigration laws put in place by those very same Congressional allies in response to demands from agricultural unions to stop allowing seasonal Mexican fieldworkers to take jobs from people already living here as citizens and permanent residents. Every politician and liberal media person who jumps on this bandwagon conveniently fails to mention that those union members were and remain predominantly legal immigrants from Mexico.
America, once the land of heroes and innovators, has become a land of victims demanding the federal government step in to save them. The more federal laws are passed to "protect the innocent", the wider the victim pool expands. Businesses demand federal help when they cannot balance their books, workers demand federal help when they cannot find jobs, mothers demand federal help when they cannot bear the stress of childrearing, and college students demand federal help when they cannot be bothered to study after too many nights at illegal "raves" held in abandoned warehouses.
Is this really what my homeland has descended into? Have we truly become a nation of spoiled brats demanding someone else feed us, clothe us, pay our rent, and raise our children?
Some people will be quick to point out that I am dependent on the generosity of my wife. And, indeed, this is completely true. However, I must point out that I repaid my student loans a very long time ago and I raised my children without government assistance. When I was in my thirties I worked full-time, went to school full-time, paid my own bills, and did not complain about the unfairness of it all. Even now, because I spent my entire adult life in Japan, I will never be able to collect Social Security and I will never qualify for Medicare. I don't envy the people who do have this option, not one tiny little bit, but I will not blindly accept people who cry, "I paid into that trust fund my entire life!"
Guess what, you didn't pay into the Social Security trust fund because there has been no trust fund to pay into since the late sixties. Our federal government has mastered "creative" accounting practices. Social Security funds exist as a "pre-assigned" segment of the general fund, a segment that contains nothing but Treasury bonds. But don't take my word for it, see for yourself: U.S. Debt clock. Everything you need to know is right there in blood red honesty. While you're there, click on some tabs and links. There is a wealth of information at your fingertips on the Debt Clock site. Real information, not the wild rantings of conspiracy theorists, academics with more loyalty to Marx than Washington, and Soros-funded internet bloggers who cannot tell the difference between a fact and an assumption.
One last note, before you panic over SOPA, take a moment to remember that this issue has been with us for a very long time. The first time I encountered it was in June, 2008. Just sit down, find your Congressional representative's website, and drop him or her an e-mail. They still work for you and they need to know how you feel about H.R. 3261, the "Stop Online Piracy Act".
We may or may not have arrived in the "end of days", but here's a little secret I'd like to share with you: it doesn't matter one way or the other! You still have to go to work or school tomorrow, you still have to pay off your credit cards and your mortgage, and you still might wind up spending three days in bed if you come down with the flu this season. In the end, there is only one thing you can do, be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. To do this you need to stock up on some canned goods, keep a fresh supply of bottled water, make sure your first aid kit doesn't expire, and unless you are an absolute pacifist, buy a gun and learn how to use it. There might not be a zombie apocalypse in the near future, but there are still tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and street gangs to worry about.
The television age ended when the Nintendo age began. The industrial age took a backseat when the information age began. Twice during my life I have seen the world end and a new one begin. Right now we are in the midst of a world ending, but so far no one is quite sure what new age is beginning. The one thing we can safely conclude is that even though this truly is the end of days, whatever comes next won't be a utopia.