The Broad is Back!

July 10, 2013

Past Wisdom

Looking through some inspirational quotes today, I found this:

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” Franklin D Roosevelt

When I read it I thought, “Oh dear. How will this decade, this century so far, be judged?”  We’ve done a very good job adding to the abundance of a few, but we’ve actually made it harder for those who have little.

That’s just not right. Now of course, I am the result of two generations of Roosevelt Democrats. Perversely, I actually like his cousin Teddy better and will occasionally call myself a Roosevelt Republican (which, by the standards of today’s GOP, means not a Republican at all), but I do think FDR’s administration tried to do something to help people.

My mom’s cousins and my great uncle were in the Civilian Conservation Corps, giving them work during the Depression. Social Security was introduced making retirement easier for many of my older relatives who would have ended up living in poverty once they could no longer work.

But now I live in an America where corporations have the rights of  people, very rich people, even though America was never supposed to be an oligarchy. I have a government that bails out banks and huge corporations because they are “too big to fail,” while saying those corporations should be allowed free reign to drive the economy. Make up your mind, corporations. Do you want federal help or freedom? If the free market says you fail, why then you should fail. Companies have failed since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Why not now?

Like many Americans I have reached a tipping point. I’m well beyond the “last straw” phase. The camel’s back was broken years ago, so now each fresh illustration of a world gone mad just pushes me further into despair.

Today’s Washington Post headline: “Wal-Mart says it will pull out of D.C. plans should city mandate ‘living wage'” summed it up for me. Wal-Mart has done more to ruin this country than I care to think about. People who work there full time still need government assistance. It destroys local businesses and has forced many American manufacturers to either move to China in a bid to keep costs low or plain put them out of business.

The 2oo5 documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price pointed out some of the problems caused by this behemoth but it’s not the only critic. Google “Wal-Mart dangers” and you will find articles from the New Yorker, BusinessWeek and MSN Money, a report from 60 Minutes from 1996 as well as reports from a number of watchdog groups. But the mainstream media seems to be aware of the threat Wal-Mart poses. But Americans still flock there to save a few dollars, dollars that then flow back out of their pockets to support Wal-Mart through taxes and lost opportunity.

Six years ago I started this blog to chronicle my return to America after 12 years abroad. I have gone from happy to be back to wanting to leave more than anything. This kills me because I truly love my country. But I had a better life in the three other countries I’ve lived in. Since I’ve been back it’s been six years of working part time or temporary jobs because in spite of my PhD, 23 years of teaching experience (during which I’ve won teaching awards), there are few jobs to be had. Twice I’ve had to turn down college teaching positions because I couldn’t afford to live on the salaries offered.

One college president even told me, “This is really a position for someone who has someone else in the household bringing in a second income.” Yes, truly, that was said to me.  And this was not at a small, private college. This was at a state school.

I’m looking for positions in other fields, but it’s not easy. I send out over 75 job applications a year–sometimes closer to 150. (The real lesson here is not to earn a PhD in the humanities. Seriously.)

Oh, America, what’s to become of you? Have we taken nothing from the past? The path we are on is not a viable one.  What is my son inheriting?

 

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