The Voyage of Captain Obvious

Grading is satanic

Monday, September 26, 2005

Plus ça change, plus c'est le meme chose

I was playing around with my ipod the other day, and good ol' Dust Bowl Ballads came up. I don't think that the United States have has as important an artist as Woody Guthrie ever come along in its history. In particular, it amazes me how these songs about the Depression are able to still remind me of what's going on today. In particualr, this bit, though rediculously classic, seemed pretty precient:

Lots of folks back East, they say, is leavin' home every day,
Beatin' the hot old dusty way to the California line.
'Cross the desert sands they roll, gettin' out of that old dust bowl,
They think they're goin' to a sugar bowl, but here's what they find --
Now, the police at the port of entry say,
"You're number fourteen thousand for today."

Oh, if you ain't got the do re mi, folks, you ain't got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi.

You want to buy you a home or a farm, that can't deal nobody harm,
Or take your vacation by the mountains or sea.
Don't swap your old cow for a car, you better stay right where you are,
Better take this little tip from me.
'Cause I look through the want ads every day
But the headlines on the papers always say:

If you ain't got the do re mi, boys, you ain't got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi."

The scenery is most certainly different. In the 30s, it was more "I understand, and I'd do something if I could, but I've got my own problems" than it was "they deserve it." The commonalities, however, seem too glaring to ignore. In the 30s, they had semi-effectual government programs, while now, we have "government programs" which are a codeword for "handouts to Halliburton." Still, both cases resulted in a giant mess, with no clear solution (since the only obvious solution, that the government employ the victims in the reconstruction effort*, seems to be the complete opposite of what is going to happen). Hell, the migration during the 30s was only stopped when the US lost half a generation in Europe and Japan.

I don't mean to really compare our situation to the Depression. As a whole, the nation is clearly, far better off financially, and, at this instant, we face no threat to the survival of humanity on the scale of Hitler-syle fascism. But my concern is that we are starting to leave people behind, and we are doing it using the smug anthems of "they deserved it," or "they should have known better, living there." As if everywhere but a few choice places was immune to natural disaster. We can do better.

I say, "fuck it, we're all in this together." I'm sick of being wedged off from everyone else by morons who know more about positioning and "message" than substance and emotion**. But fuck it, I'm in it together with them, too. I'm going to pledge to try my best to give everyone an open ear, and my true opinion in rebuttal. This principle does not mean that I'm going to always agree (in reality, it probably means more disagreement than agreement), but it means that I'm going to do my best to realize that we all need to work together.

Because I don't want to live in a world where I tell the helpless and hopeless to go away, 'cause they ain't got that Do-Re-Mi.

*The advantages of this are so obvious to me that it amazes me that noone is talking aobut it--in one fell swoop, you prevent the appearance of impropriety, you employ the people whose places of work were destroyed (since mass unemployment will be one of the big long term problems that this will cause), you give everyone a stake in the New New Orleans, making everyone feel welcome to come back home, and you minimize the money wasted on contractors. In essence, there is no better way to let the people come back home, wtih arms wide open than to offer them a job rebuilding the city better than it was in the first place. But I'm an idealist.

**by this I clearly mean feeling emotion, not manipulating it in others.


  • At 27 September, 2005 11:42, Blogger Sleeps with Butterflies said…

    Amen, brother. Everyone in our country has too much of a "survival of the fittest" attitude. Somewhere between kindergarten and adulthood we lose our sense of kindness. I know there are people who "abuse" the system, but what's better... helping everyone and having a few people take it for granted, or helping no one and everyone get screwed? Besides, it's not that cut and dry anyway. There are ways to make sure those who deserve the help get it, and those who don't, don't. Honestly its like our government isn't even TRYING sometimes.


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