Wednesday, April 22, 2009

John Q. Public

John Q. Public is mad.

But why?

in "Retirement Dreams Disappear with 401(k)s", a very worthwhile piece to read, the author doesn't find it hard to go out and find people that are disappointed about their investments and prospects and are only too happy (or angry) to blame someone, anyone, other than themselves. 

Yes people are mad, but as I asked before: WHY?  

Other than the obvious, that life is not fair, maybe, just maybe, John Q. Public is most angry because our unreasonable expectations are not going to be met.  We are not all going to be rich, and famous, and good looking, and thin, and healthy, and have fair haired, white toothed, angels for children that marry the perfect soul mate who "completes" them and completes the cycle, breeding a new family of Stepford wives and children.

Where did John Q. Public get the idea that his retirement, future health, business, job, whatever was going to be bigger, better, happier, etc... "world without end, Amen"?

From the Media.  Primarily Television, but also from Magazines, Movies, etc...  For the most part, we are not starving (looking at the folks living near my Tennessee farm waddle around on their fallen arches I'd say that was rather obvious), our needs are being met... But that is not our expectation.  T.V. told us that we would all be able to retire comfortably, happily surrounded by our "Leave it to Beaver" families... that Big Brother or Big Corporation would always be there to look out for our financial, healthcare, and dental needs, and that after 30 years of "working hard" we should expect to live another 30 years in comfortable retirement living off of the production of everybody else.

And now our collective bubble has been burst by the reality needle - and boy! Are we pissed off.

I want to go out and give the angry, depressed folks in the article a hug.  I want to introduce them to the teachings of Diogenes of Sinope (who famously told Alexander the Great to stand out of the rays of the sun (so that Diogenes could continue to work on his tan) after Alexander told him "Ask of me anything".  Diogenes replied "I ask you to stand aside, you are blocking the light"), I want a lot of things... perhaps I have unreasonable expectations, too.

There is no sweeping this under the proverbial rug.  The spell of mass delusion provided by endless hours of watching T.V. has been broken.  Maybe some will be philosophical enough to recognize that the recipients of welfare and food stamps enjoy a better "Standard of Living" than did Diogenes; yet Alexander the Great remarked that even though he owned the world and everything in it, Diogenes was the wealthier man - because Diogenes strove only to be happy.  Maybe others will recognize that sitting in front of a T.V., engaging in endless our hours of passive mind control... a "luxury" created by industrial wealth whether you are wealthy or not, was not nearly as rewarding as laboring at whatever task it is that provides for yourself and your family.


I must confess that I am a regular reader of "Granny Miller".  I have never met her, but she is a self described overweight depressive.  

I find her brilliant and inspiring.

Anyway, I found this link and video on her site.  I hope you will read the post and watch the video (the spokesperson is easy on the eyes).

I am thrilled to see people normally associated with greater government intervention in our daily lives get hopping mad about government intervention.

You may not be following the American Agriculture story - YET.  You will be, trust me, as I firmly believe that will be the real crisis of the coming decade.  I find it amusing that the same political affiliates can understand that the government cannot be trusted to do the right thing in Agriculture CAN BE TRUSTED to do the right thing on social policy.

It is a start.  At least there is hope.

Mentatt (at) yahoo (dot) com


bureaucrat said...

Here I am! First in line! :)

I am a product of TV watching. I blame television and my parents for who I am, in that order. :) I was at a 1970s/1980s theme restaurant last night, and could name the casts of every show they had in their pictures -- MASH, Diff Strokes, Facts of Life, Love Boat, Hart to Hart, Brady Bunch, etc. These cheesy, always-with-a-happy-ending, phony shows made me who I am -- a relatively generous, understanding realist. Stop blaming TV. :)

What you should blame is peer pressure. Watching your friends' parents getting a backyard pool, new cars, room additions, cable TV, trips to Mexico, moving out of the neighborhood to get a bigger house. At the time, that REALLY infuriated me. "Weeell we're movin' on up, to the East Side...." TV took a rotten world and made it fascinating and funny. It was the PEERS who revealed unrealistic family goals that they rubbed in my face. ;)

Greg T. Jeffers said...

ANd where did your peers get their ideas?

All of AMerica, since about 1955, has lost all sense of traditions into the black hole of TV land.

At least that is my story - and I am sticking with it.

oOOo said...

Its a story covering most of the modern world nowadays.

"Americans (you could add almost all modernised nations to this), regardless of income or social position, now live in a culture entirely perceived inside a self-referential media hologram of a nation and world that does not exist. Our national reality is staged and held together by media, chiefly movie and television images. We live in a "theater state."

I posted this link before, but it fits well with your post so if anyone didnt read it, its well worth the read:

another excerpt, especially for bureaucrat:
The result is that Americans cannot achieve the cathexis we need. Cathexis is the ground zero psychic and emotional attachment to the world that cannot be argued. It is "beyond ideological challenge because it is called into existence affectively." Americans are conditioned to reject any affective attachment that does not have a happy ending. And in that, we remain mostly a nation of children. We never get to grow up.

So we tell ourselves the Little Golden Book fairy tales -- that we are a great and compassionate people, and that we are personally innocent of any of our government's horrific crimes abroad. Guiltless as individuals. And we do remain innocent, in a sense, as long as we cannot see beyond the media hologram.

oOOo said...

By the way, in regards to the video, (ironically posted in a post about the ills of TV :))
There is a great documentary called The Future of Food, which goes deeper into the issues she is talking about, interviewing famers affected by Monsanto lawsuits. Fairly disturbing.

You can find the video here

Anonymous said...

And so.... if American culture is such a fragile construct, what happens when the society is hit by a REAL TORPEDO like peak oil or food shortages?

Do we get a massive social breakdown?

bureaucrat said...

Or, perhaps the rugged, hard drinking individuals of the past who we think of being "real tough men." Maybe men like John Wayne and U.S. Grant and the many bare-knuckle boxers of yesteryear were just as soft and emotional and prone to cry as we are today. Time has a tendency of rewriting history a lot more positively versus reality. Perhaps Lincoln wasn't all that distraught over what the Civil War was doing to the U.S. as we've been led to believe. :) Maybe people just weren't all that tough. Their stories were,

Anonymous said...

American mythology likes to picture the american west being "won" purely by the efforts of strong individualists- which is only partly true. What is often not known or acknowledged is the dominating role of government and corporate resources and organization in the old west saga.

hotdogjam said...

Mr. Jeffers,

I believe you are trivializing things. Each successive American generation has been lucky to have a higher standard of living than the preceding generation. This quite logically becomes the expectation. Parents want a better life for their kids because they had a better, easier life than their parents. Why is it unreasonable to expect to reach a happy retirement when you watch so many others achieve it?

The problem is when the last one out of the room has to shut off the lights. Our kids just happen to be that unlucky generation.

Think of how many baby boomers lucked out because of their good fortune of the simple timing when they were born. Hell, you could do quite well without a college degree.

You can't blame folks for being disappointed or feeling disillusioned when our ever rising way of life stops.

The social contract has been breached.

What's gonna happen when millions of students graduate from college and graduate school this May with tens of thousands in debt and they can't find jobs.

Think they're going to feel ripped off? Can you blame them. It's not a false expectation. We were all brought up to believe that going to college will increase our lifetime earning potential.

Now they gots the sheepskin and no way to pay the loans.


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