|Photo: tavisalks.com/Remaking America|
This year's count puts the homeless at nearly 600,000. Many of them are our veterans, come home from wars with wounds that won't heal. Nearly a third of them live on the streets. Some cities work diligently to keep them off the streets, not by sheltering them but by making their attempts to sleep outdoors more difficult.
Our public schools are barely holding together, as funding, along with creativity and our ability to see our children as our future, declines. The future of our public learning institutions is in jeopardy, and there are some who see that as a good thing.
Men and women in their middle years are now taking jobs normally held by teens or retirees. $20 and $30 an hour jobs are long gone for the masses. A $15-an-hour job is now classified as a goal to reach instead of a hurdle to jump over.
People who were promised adequate retirements are finding, 30 years after the pact, that nothing was written in blood. The money they worked for and counted on has been stolen away and they have no choice but to accept it. As criminal as it seems, it's just the way it is when times are bad and we all (well, almost all) have to tighten our belts.
Our need to keep health care obscenely profitable is responsible for shortening lives and causing needless pain. We seem not to be able to make the connection when ad campaigns by insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and hospital chains bombard our airwaves. Someone is paying for those ads. We try not to think about who that might be.
Our roads and bridges and buildings are crumbling and we're supposed to believe there is no money to fix them. We wait for the inevitable disaster that will open the vault to the funds hiding there all along. Large numbers of people will have to die as a sacrifice before more can live.
Private interests are carpet-bombing the land of the free and the home of the brave. We say we don't know how to stop them, apparently not even noticing that we've made a habit of nurturing and promoting politicians who make no secret of their allegiance to them.
But I'm not telling you anything you didn't already know.
So why aren't we talking about these things all day every day until something gets done about them? Why aren't we seeing periodic updates on these insults to the human spirit on the news?
A hungry child wonders where she'll be sleeping tonight.
A good person working hard to build a safe future suddenly finds herself jobless with no comparable employment in sight.
A man nearing retirement age finds that the equity in his house is worth a third of what it was 10 years ago, and his retirement package is worth even less.
A person gets sick. The illness becomes chronic. Work is out of the question, but the costs to stay stable have risen and are now beyond reach. Next step: bankruptcy.
Tent cities are springing up, then being torn down.
And so on.
These stories get published and most of us react the way the writer intended, but the big news takes over and the stories, sad as they are, get lost.
Big news like (you knew this was coming) sports world scandals, Sarah Palin doing anything, God's personal messages to certain GOP leaders, the hurtful words one public person used against someone else, and the interminable, advertiser-driven, celebrity happenings.
When was the last time the news media was so captivated by a story about any of the abuses I've listed, they made it "Breaking News" and stayed on it for days on end, without regard for regular programming?
When was the last time the public went on a rampage against those abuses, protesting in numbers so powerful they couldn't be ignored until change finally came?
Never. It has never happened. Which is why we're still where we are, and the perpetrators are still where they are--growing stronger in a place where they need not be afraid.
There are powerful factions out there working to build our country to their liking. They welcome the distractions, and often manufacture them in order to divert our attention away from their efforts to take us down. After decades of practice, the demagogues have fear-mongering down to an art form. It's no accident, for example, that Ted Cruz looks, acts and sounds like Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Or that Rand Paul confuses libertarianism with liberty. Or that a vengeful, gun-toting God has suddenly become the Right's co-pilot.
They understand the media better than we do. They know that religion, bigotry, and misogyny push the right buttons and keep the noise going. They know enough of us are easily distracted and will believe anything but the truth. Those people are their ace in the hole. They couldn't win without them.
Our mission, if we choose to accept it, is to bring the dialogue back to the bigger issues and keep them front and center. Our story is the story of the masses. We owe it to ourselves to get it right.
(Cross-posted at dagblog, Daily Kos, and Freak Out Nation. Featured on Crooks & Liars MBRU)