Friday, March 6, 2009

An Open Letter from Generation X

I like to go to the movies and I particularly like getting their early so I can watch the trailers. I’m not sure I’ll ever forget 2008, the year I saw two trailers that would later become Academy Award nominees. Both trailers were historical films set in the tumultuous era of the Baby Boomers and their crusade against that evil generation before them. The films were Frost / Nixon and Milk. When the trailers flashed across the screen, the audience moaned—and it had absolutely nothing to do with the homosexuality in Milk.

A friend beside me leaned over and whispered, “Man, those guys still haven’t gotten over it, have they?” He’s right. They haven’t “gotten over it.” Furthermore, they think the rest of us don’t “get it.” Far too narcissistic and self-absorbed to put their crusades aside, this is the generation that will forever be remembered as being too selfish to stay married, too drugged to be productive, and too religious to be just. This will be the generation that we remember as being so focused on their parent’s shortcomings that they never got around to looking at their own.

I’d like to thank the Academy for continuing to bloat their egos. Sure, these are important movies about important times in our history, we get it. We got it last time you brought it up. Like a bad dinner date, life with the aging Boomer population is all about having the same conversations over and over. We know about your generation of world-changers. We also know that you upped and joined the system when your marriages got stale, when free love got old, and when raising kids started cutting into your down time. We get it, and the statistics don’t lie.

Refusing to believe their revolution is over, this generation looks back to a time when they were making a difference… a time before Enron and Wall Street scandals, before Monica Lewinski, before State-sanctioned torture in Guantanamo Bay. And as if to keep father time from pointing out their revolution is over, this generation invented the likes of Botox and new techniques of pulling skin away from their aging faces. Plastic surgery is the ultimate manifestation of a plastic war, where the Boomer’s righteous ideologies killed and maimed the generation behind them with a morally bankrupt reality.

I’m not just writing about about the Boomer Left in this country... the truth is the Boomer Right did no better for us as a nation. By forming a group of Religious Fundamentalists to combat the Boomer Socialists, we watched an entire generation devour itself. The Right built shiny new churches, multi-million dollar ministries, “Christian” television networks, and then proceeded to invite the likes of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Baker to run a good show for us, with a few hookers dancing behind the curtain. No, Boomer Right. You didn’t do the nation any favors by getting drawn into the culture war. You gave the devil his due.

While the schizophrenic Boomer generation fought each other, government and greedy executives robbed us all blind. Now with empty pockets, they’ve dared to get angry again. Good for them. Only it is 20 years too late, my world-changing friends. We’ve had four terms, that’s 16 years of Boomer leadership in the White House. The Boomers really made good on their word—they did change the world. They wrapped their chubby religious hands and marijuana blackened fingers around the throat of my generation.

Don’t worry; we’ll scrub the place down. We’ll mop it all up for you. It won’t be easy, but we’ll do it. We’re going to take your Frost / Nixon and your Milk because we do value their significance. We’re going to thank you for paving the way for us to question our government. We’ll take your Jesus out from under your religion, and we’ll take your gospel out from under the stage lights. None of your lessons will be lost on us.

But we’re tearing up the credit cards. We’re saving money and paying off our debts. We’re going to stay focused on our families, with or without Dobson ranting in the background. We’re going to build better churches, better banks, and better corporations. We don’t feel the need to check our morals at the door anymore, because grandma and grandpa had a few things right about both God and country. We see that pretty clearly now. God isn’t a four-letter word and when we’re done, homo won’t be either. What we’re bringing to the table is a morality that isn’t at war with itself and world that’s more likely to pick up a Walt Whitman book than a Bill Ayers leaflet or a leftover Ted Haggard pamphlet.

When we’re finished there won’t be a child in America born without adequate health insurance or an elderly veteran freezing to death in his own home because his power got shut off. We won’t be taxing the wealthy and pretending we can free lunch our way to social justice or prosperity. We won’t see rich as the enemy, nor will we immortalize the poor with empty rhetoric.

We’re going to dig you out of this and if you can wait long enough, there might something left for you to retire on, but we’re not making any promises. That’s because Boomer bankruptcy runs so much deeper than AIG or Citigroup. It’s a deeper poison running through our systems and our souls. Even so, I think I can find a generation of Americans willing to put the hemlock merchants out of business.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunday, December 28

Well I spent the holiday weekend with in-laws in Louisville, KY. My mother in-law gets about 32 channels, so I was flipping on Sunday morning. I wish I hadn't. Fourteen of the 32 channels were church broadcasts. I guess if you have an extra thousand bucks a month or whatever, you can broadcast yourself.

Newsflash: just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. I'm not sure that I've heard such fear-mongering and hate-baiting in all my life. It made me sick and embarrassed to be a Christian. Is it any wonder the world thinks so poorly of us, when junk like this is pumped through the airwaves at us?

I think at least 8 of the 14 stations were preaching on the end times and how bad it's going to be for people left behind. Good grief, people. Don't we have bigger fish to fry? Isn't there some good news in here some place? Christmas weekend, no less. People flipping through with their families, full of holiday cheer and they get this message? Not only the message, but detailed maps on where the horror is going to take place and what nationalities are going to get filleted like fish.

It honestly makes me want to puke. Our loudest dogs keep doing all the barking for the rest of us. They're like that yappy neighbor dog that won't shut up in the morning. You know the one... he has no idea what he's barking at or what he's barking for. He's just barking because he can. I think it's past time for Christians to stand up and tell this people to take the three-ring circus someplace else.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Happening, M. Night Shyamalan

Whenever critics get particularly miffed about a movie, I tend to make myself watch it. We're a couple of days off from Christmas, what better time than now to watch M. Night Shyamalan push from his self-described PG-13 mindset to a rated R? Tis' the season for mindless violence, right?

Sigh. I was slightly disappointed, but certainly not enough to go trouncing over the guy's creativity, as did some critics. Maybe he just wanted to see what he could do with a R rating... a pushing of the envelope so to speak.

I want to go on record as stating the film would have worked better as a PG-13. The violence was distracting by what was otherwise an above average script. The premise was standard Hollywood blather: we're killing the earth and there by killing ourselves. Shyamalan takes it to a literal extreme that I think would have been much more effective if passed off as an under-current, tugging gently at our ankles while we lounge in knee-deep salt water.

Instead, he gives us a tidal wave and thereby leaves us shrugging our shoulders at the end. I pretty much ejected the DVD thinking, "Nice story man, but now it's time to put that crap out of my head." The themes themselves were nothing short of masterful. He just used a sledge-hammer when a chisel would have gotten more mileage.

But that's not why I'm bothering to blog it. I'll watch anything the man puts out because I believe he is brilliant. No, I'm blogging tonight for what the medium of film always does-- it tells us about ourselves. With The Happening and the newly released Seven Pounds, it would appear that we're on a suicide motif this year.

2008 -- the year we killed ourselves. I don't believe that vaguely similar themes appearing in blockbuster films are coincidence so much as I believe that C.G. Jung had a mind second only to that of Shakespeare. Our subconscious will find a way to express itself, one way or the other.

Both of these films take us to what we dare not speak outloud. Culturally, we're priming the pump to carry out a hidden death wish. I'd take the thought further, but it's late and I'm tired. Just saying, it matters. That's all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Give me a $1 and I will make it easy for you to borrow it back!

CNN has the full details but it hardly matters, I suppose. Nothing has mattered to this point... the 700 Billion Dollar bailout plan is now it's fourth incarnation. This time, Paulson has set his sites on consumer lending. The theory is real simple-- make it easier for Americans to borrow money on their cars, colleges, and credit cards. When it's easy to borrow, it's easier to spend. The hope is to jump start the GDP which just saw it's biggest quarterly decline in 27 years. Americans just don't have any more money to spend, disposable income is down, debt is up. So what do you do when disposable income is down? Make it easier to borrow. Funny how it never occurred to Paulson that maybe putting more money in the hands of consumers would be better than putting more debt in their laps. Nah, that's be too simplistic. The answer -- take money away from consumers with taxes. Then offer to give them more debt in exchange for it. That makes good sense, doesn't it. I mean if I offered to take $1 from you, then promised to make it very easy to borrow that dollar right back from me-- you'd go for it wouldn't you? Awww, come on. It's me!

Stupid is as stupid does, and Paulson must be jockeying for an award. Taking money from our children and our children's children to fund our drunk-lust spending spree as Americans is just plain stupid. Not only are we left with the taxation credit card bill (which we owe to China no less), we're also making sure that the plastic can keep flowing, both through the credit card machines and that the National Shopping Bag Workers Union stays in business.

So, buckle up folks. Just in time for the holidays, Secretary Paulson has unleashed a new plan to stimulate consumer borrowing. Get in line early, folks because your friendly neighborhood slavers have never offered prices this low!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Slaver Bailout Plan of 2008

So the Dow hit a record low for the decade just a few moments ago, taking us back to numbers which haven't been seen since the Clinton era. Personally, I think we are near the bottom, but jeez... who can really tell?

Of course, this crash is happening in the middle of the largest bailout of corrupt businesses and corporate greed in the history of the United States. Having already spent almost half that 700 billion in two months, Americans still haven't seen anything. Jobs are not being created; they are being lost. Credit isn't being freed up, or at least if it is, very few are getting sucked in. Rates are the lowest they've ever been, but Americans are too in debt to take on more debt.

Once again, wisdom is proved by all her children. The solution to America's credit crisis was never more credit, cheaper credit, and easier to attain credit. You don't fix credit with credit. Ask anyone who is busy rolling around card debt from lender to lender to squeeze out an extra $20 bucks per month. It's a miserable place to be, I know from experience.

Tennessee is suffering. Because we don't have an income tax, we depend on sales tax revenue. Other states are hurting too because much of their budget is based on sales tax revenue. But what can you do when there are no sales? Free up credit? Further strangle our nation in a choke-hold of debt? Print more money?

Your government's solution was to bail out the slavers, not the slaves. To reward corruption and greed with billions of your children's tax dollars, ensuring that your children will also be slaves. Since passing the slaver bailout plan, the United States government has experimented with three different ways to spend it. None of that has your best interest in mind because it doesn't add a penny to your pocket; it just makes it easier for you borrow a penny from theirs.

Once again, all this money that is going to banks to erase invisible debt would have been better placed in the hands of working Americans with real debt. They sold invisible money; Americans acquired real debt. The slavers got caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

We are running out of both time and choices. If you subtract the illegal immigrants and the population of Americans under the age of 18, then remove all non-working and un-taxable Americans, you'd be left with well under 200 million people. Divide out that 700 billion dollars (which by the way is ours) and you'd have a stimulus package totaling around $13,000 for my family of two working adults. That's a bailout ladies and gentlemen!

$13,000 of additional income to liquidate debt, to pump into the economy, to boost the Tennessee sales tax revenue, to invest in the markets.... the possibilities are endless. The government could have put requirements on the money-- forcing all working Americans with debt to put their full stimulus package toward their debt. And non-working Americans and illegals? Well they should have never been given credit to begin with. Let the slavers suffer. This action would have created liquidity-- and given real capital for the slavers who were responsible in their lending as their working slaves climbed out from under their clutches toward financial freedom.

Instead they chose to keep us slaves. And the ones that hurt the most? Working Americans. It's time for action, people. Are GM and Ford going to fail whether we bail them out or not because they have demonstrated the failure to make wise choices. We don't have to go softly into that goodnight. Write your congressman. Tell them they've rewarded quite enough stupidity, ignorance, and greed for this lifetime, and the next.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I know I'm not stupid, but I need some help figuring this out...

So Exxon Mobile made a record 14.5 billion dollar profit in the 3rd quarter. So if that's pre-tax profit, they pay .43 cents on every dollar they make in taxes which is verifiably insane. That's a little over 6 billion dollars in total taxes they paid on that record profit, more if they paid taxes first then reported their after-tax profit. Joe Biden came out today and said he wanted to cut the 4 billion dollars in tax relief that these companies get. Somebody needs to explain the logic in this to me, because I still don't get it. If you cut out 4 billion in tax relief, then you reduce the amount you can tax at .43 cents on the dollar. Let's say it hit this quarter (I can only guess Biden means an extra 1 billion per quarter). You would lower their profits to 13.5 billion, and only take in 5.8 billion in taxes on their profit. So, your net gain is only about 500 million. Therefore you've just taken 1 billion away from the economy via its investors so that you could put 500 million back into the economy using taxes. How does this make sense?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What They Left Us...

I will be 39 years old this month. I'm right on the cusp of Generation X (b. between 1964 - 1981) and squarely a product of the Baby Boomer generation before me. In the late 1980's TIME magazine described us this way:

By and large, the 18-to-29 group scornfully rejects the habits and values of the baby boomers, viewing that group as self-centered, fickle and impractical.

I wouldn't quite go that far, but I would say that what the Boomers have left is a pretty stunning example to us (a few left-over drug addicts aside) of what not to become. As the Boomers now near or enter into retirement, I wonder how exactly they see their legacy?

First, the positives. Boomers demonstrated to us the value of questioning authority. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Government isn't always on the side of the people and while generations before the Boomers probably knew this to be true, they never had the stones to massively organize protests on college campuses, in town halls, or in mass groups walking hand-in-hand along the main streets of the United States. Boomers taught us that the "old time religion" our grandparents kept preaching was laced in hypocrisy, racism, and the fear of healthy change. All of us Gen X'ers owe our inquisitive spirit and pursuit of truth despite consequences to the Boomers.

Even so, in the process the Boomers managed to toss out the baby with the bathwater. In the scud of their empty tub where the stains of broken marriages, unwanted pregnancies, drug addition, and eventually corporate corruption and greed. In tossing out authority altogether, they tossed out every reason to be moral. They devalued the most fundamental stabilizing forces of any society with a "Don't Tread on Me" individualism.

Of course not all of them did this. Some of them went to the polar opposite and began insisting on inapplicable moral absolutism's and overtly harmful (and hypocritical) theological doctrines. They substituted Vietnam for a culture war of their own making, while we the children in Generation X were forced to watch the ensuing blood bath. Politics divided. Churches split. Heroes fell. It's been a war, not to end all wars, but rather to endure for generations. They inscribed lines not in the shifting sand, but in the irremovable fabric of our social, political, and religious landscape.

Busy fighting each other, government and merchants banded together to rob them blind. The great celebration of giving us the first two back-to-back elected Boomer Presidents, Bill Clinton and George Bush, epitomized the frail nature of this conflict. With these appointments they successfully offered America four terms of "new leadership" by way of a pervert and a moron respectively. Sadly, I voted for both of them at least once. Their offerings to the House and Senate haven't done much better, nor have their offerings to the American pulpit.

The political and religious authorities they spent their lives questioning and rebeling against were replaced by the most corrupt authorities in American history-- maybe in all American history combined.

I know there are exceptions, and thankfully I happen to serve under one. But by and large, what the Boomers left us was a legacy of what not to become. I suppose in that, we at least owe them our thanks.

Now that the economy is lurching backward from the compounded lack of wisdom and greed, it seems like they might at least get a little taste of the mess they've left Generation X to clean up before they "shake their white locks at the runaway sun." That little taste of what we will be required to clean up is what Gen X'ers call "just desserts." I just hope there are enough of us out from under the hypnotic power of Microsoft's "X-Box" to act.