It’s a fool’s game to guess what lies ahead collectively for 2013. Unfortunately, it feels a safe bet that great portions of the country will remain shrouded with a creepy malaise that says individuals cannot chart their own courses anymore. The Cult of the American Presidency is part of the community psyche. All are victims of an abstraction known as the economy, and only Uncle Sam, with his wads and wads of free money, can dig us out.
And yet, there remain a few entrepreneurial spirits fired up and moving retrograde. Federal, state, and local regulations choke and block the path of people trying to be creative and productive. Insane legislation makes the once outrageous directives from the sci-fi novel Atlas Shrugged appear mild in comparison.
Amidst all the hype, it seemed a review of Glenn Beck’s Agenda 21 would be a nice substitute for my lack of prophecy. Unfortunately, the first few pages really offended my puritanical values. A former colleague at AB Tech who wrote his own sci-fi, twenty years ago complained how nobody was interested in plots anymore. To sell, writers were expected to concoct shocking cheap thrills to stimulate the medulla oblongata.
Reading well more than I should have, expecting the tastelessness to be short-lived, I finally stopped. It was sad that society craved the vulgar. Do that many people not know the sweetness of the love of friends and family, that they would prefer to get their jollies from smut? Do Christian authors have to stoop so low to get their points across anymore? I remembered my college friends who took a stance for Christian values and told their teachers to flunk them if they must, they were not going to pollute their memories for time and eternity with dross.
More vividly, I remembered the words of Myrtle down in Hendersonville. She was an elderly woman teaching a class in church. Her kids wanted her to see some great Spike Lee film. It was funny. He was a brother, they urged. She said she did not care what he had to say until he could present his message in an appropriate manner. I put the book down.
So, maybe that’s where we are today as a society. The majority really does crave instant gratification more than – more than what? Talk of building the Kingdom of God is offensive. Building industry is bad for the environment. Advancing technology is anthropocentric. Amassing wealth is evil. So, let’s go have a drink and forget it all. Besides, in this economy, we aren’t likely to see $1000 in one place anymore. Like all the poor people before us, it is so much easier to blow earnings $5.00 at a time than save for some future that’s going to be ripped like a rug out from under us. With no guarantee of a job, a home, or even enough for food, it makes no sense to plan.
People laughed at the Communist Manifesto, with planks to convert every art into vanilla ice cream. It could never happen here, said the masses. And yet, sitting through the PC of city and county meetings, hearing the same plans for brave new worlds recycled year after year, one feels the need to choose between screaming or puking.
On a recent trip up north, I was on a spiritual high after a brief visit with my favorite person on the planet. I had an hour and half to kill, so I visited the Barnes & Noble. A book on the Nag Hammadi stood out, so I flipped through the pages. I gravitated toward the eschatological sections and felt my high compounding. Here was a text written by people who spoke of concrete reality, things that would nourish the soul and things that would destroy it. Most notably, it spoke of the Holy Ghost, that entity that witnesses of truth, as an unquestionable certainty. With beautiful Christmas carols playing in the background and hopes to see my big hero again later that night, the world revolved from night to day.
But stepping away from celestial reprieves in the microcosms of femtoeconomics, we’ve got problems. Yes, a few people with good old-fashioned capital, labor, and resources, can dig their way out of this soul-killing economy. Most of us can’t hire the lawyers and accountants, or refuse the government assistance, necessary to fight the strangulation – er, regulation. Two hundred years ago, one could stake out land, clear it, build a cabin, and set up shop. Today, we sit on our hands afraid to do something illegal. Traveling across the state, one sees ghost towns with a Dollar Store, a Subway, a gas station, a resale shop, and maybe a few other occupied commercial spaces.
An exception would be Charlotte, where passing paper around still provides a strong income for many. High tech industries continue to fare well in the Research Triangle Area, but this can only last as long as their suppliers find it profitable to fight taxes and regulations. A disconnect has developed between labor and meaningful output. People need jobs (think plural) to give them money to pay their bills, and they expect government to create the jobs, no matter how lame.
With excessive overhead, government can only outcompete the private sector by force of law and not quality of product. So, government creates jobs by making up programs with nothing to sell but services. To stay in business, the programs need clients, and it is therefore in the government’s self-serving interest to create dependents to “grow capacity.” Leadership therefore finds itself in the dysfunctional business of growing victimhood, and the animal brains cultivated thereby know better than to bite the hand that feeds them.
The codependency is a tightly-tangled mess of yarn too tangled for a single president to unravel, but not so disastrous for us to escape, one at a time, with more creativity, courage, and faith.