A Literal Depression...
Unique American Malaise
Credit a Lack of Accountability
by Dan Ehrlich

One of the biggest challenges facing Americans in this digital computer age is accountability…in virtually all aspects of life, from our politicians, business people, doctors and even journalists. We are now living in a world where more and more we are expected to buy what we are told without question, mainly because we have no easy way to get the real answers.

The most blatant lack of accountability was the Iraq War and its aftermath. We were led into this costly conflict on a false premise and faulty information fed to us by liars an/or incompetent advisers on whom we were depending. In the end, more than 4,000 American troops were killed along with upwards of 250,000 Iraqis.

In addition the cost of this war and our involvement in Afghanistan helped drive the country towards bankruptcy. Yet, where were the protest marches and in the end, who paid for this trumped up American tragedy, besides the brave American soldiers who paid with their lives?

The chief villains GW Bush and Dick Cheney left office unscathed and with honor. There was no public outcry and no major attempts to hold them to account fort this debacle, which we try to present as a victory for democracy. That remains to be seen after we leave that country.

Through our own cherished capitalist system, we have developed one of the worst aspects of the old Soviet Communist system…control of information often through disinformation and hype plus the inability to have personal contact with people who may have the answers. This has made us apathetic and weak willed on issues that don’t hit us in the breadbasket.
Computers:A Blessing and a Curse
Ironically, a main culprit here seems to be  the computer. But it shouldn't be this way. In fact, there should be more accountability than ever with unlimited sources of information. The trouble is, not that many people care to see or hear what’s being said …unless it has to do with jobs, taxes and the cost of living.

The fact I am able to write this blog is a testament to our free society and the marvel of the Internet. Yet, right now, there are powers working here and in other countries to find ways of controlling the Internet and the free flow on information on it. They will begin with a valid objective of trying to stop child porn or sex on the web. This may evolve to other topics until the Internet will no longer be free.

There was a time here when virtually anyone could talk to his or her congressional representative. These days you are more than likely to talk to an aide and receive a form e-mail back n reply. And, if a politician actually wants to do his or her duty and meet the voters, there is the specter of Tucson that may deter them and even citizens from attending such open meet and greet events.

This lack of openness and accountability even gives rise to extremist groups such as the Birthers, who used an oversight on the part of election officials as a way to pursue their agenda in the face of evidence and common sense.

Do you think there would have been such a controversy if there were openness when President Obama filed for his candidacy? In the case of the Presidency, election officials should demand proof of native-born citizenship from all prospective candidates to allow the filings. And that proof should be public record.

You might say some of the Birthers, aside from those who are racists, were spurred on by a growing sense of individual powerlessness to the point of being effete when it comes to demanding answers from government.

But where were many of these people in 2000 when the country underwent an election so tainted it bordered on farce, yet there was no Florida re ballot or public outcry. When the Supreme Court cast the final vote there were no demonstrations or riots, just acceptance. And this acceptance is what politicians and business people alike count on to sell their messages.
Gas Prices Always More Up than Down
Gas prices rise and rise. Yes, every time they go up, they come down a bit…..but they will always keep rising more than coming down. We are told its because of  the Middle East instability. Yet, America isn’t dependent on Middle East oil. We get most of ours from sources in this hemisphere. But, how can we make our voices known. How do we demand answers, when all we can expect to receive form inquiries are form e-mails.

Every four years we have a general election. We elect a president, who while giving lip service to your concerns, does much the same what the previous White House resident did.

Our dilemma can be explained through a major escapist tool. Depending on where you live, its costs about $10 to see a movie…another $5 for a small box of popcorn…that’s $25 for two people. Yet even in a recession rocked nation, where cinema attendance should be way down thanks to Netflix and film rentals, we are given repeated hype about record breaking movies such as The Hangover 2 taking in a phenomenal $137 million over a single holiday weekend.

In the bygone years of credible journalism, any figures about film attendance had to be attributed to some body, such as the Motion Picture Producers Association. No more, these days much of the media, especially broadcast news, recite ever more growing box-office figures as if they are standing behind them, with no attributions whatsoever.

The fact that most our network news stations are now part of entertainment conglomerates which include major film studios may have something to do with the endless hype we seem to get about high budget escapist movies.

They want to sell tickets and creating a hit film beyond anyone’s wildest dreams is a way to market their products, especially since they have television to do the marketing. Right now, CBS and NBC have twice as much time devoted escapist showbiz gossip shows than network news during prime time.

Oddly, this was predicted back in 1976 in the Oscar winning film Network that spelled out how news would eventually become entertainment, with current affairs talk shows simply a way for people to express anger.

Yet all this ranting would never really affect the power behind the worldwide capitalist system, which has now merged with the Communist system in the case of China.

So, how much did Hangover 2 really make its opening weekend? We will never know.
Computers have Eliminated Human Contact
But movies are simply one example of how we are give a line of what may be bullshit and expected to eat it. The lack of accountability affects our lives daily. And it’s largely the fault of computers as cost saving tools that have all but eliminated the human element from much of our lives.

Before computerization, the only way we could quickly get in touch with people was by telephone…human contact. Everyone from politicians to newspaper editors were available through the phone. And, if you had the time you could write people letters. Their addresses were freely available.

Not any more…nowadays officials and business people alike want to be as anonymous as possible yet still have you buy what they’re selling. Online firms such as Amazon sell just about anything without human contact and they try to conceal where they actually are and how they can be reached.

The same holds true for many media websites. They want you ti buy their message of openness, but they don’t want to hear from you. It may be near impossible to find a phone number or staff listing.

America is a large country that has been made more workable by being divided into states. Obviously, the smaller the state in land mass and population, the more efficient it should be. Yet, even in tiny Rhode Island the same lack of accountability applies as in California or Texas.

Unemployment figures are manipulated with the gross national product to try and present a positive face on our economy. Neither Obama nor GOP leaders will admit the truth because they know it will mean electoral defeat. They won’t say that in the long and short-term we are screwed until it’s cheaper to buy our goods here and overseas than it is to buy foreign stuff here.

As with gas prices, there will be some bright spots…some glimmers of hope…but our economic condition will remain dire…they key being acceptance as the older generation that knew better days dies off and a less affluent more resigned America takes shape. Have a nice day.

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