Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gripin' isn't Changin'

To gripe is as American as apple pie. It's right there in the Constitution, though not under the word "gripe". Griping is easy, it's fun, it might even be truthful, though it might not be entertaining to every audience every time it's done. It relieves stress, and is no doubt part of the reason behind the existence of griping blogs out there in cyberspace, including, sometimes, this one.
But we can all agree, too, that griping alone gets little or nothing accomplished except perhaps to call needed attention to a problem.
Take, for example, our relationship to Iran. These two societies, it seems, are almost meant to misunderstand one another. We gripe about their country's militarization, especially the nuclear weapons we can't help but think they are intent on getting. They, in turn, don't trust us because of past meddling in their governments, toppling some while supporting others, and failing to see them as the heirs of the old Persian Empire, a term which still sounds good to them.
But war with Iran still seems like a bad idea, and so we gripe, getting other countries to join in the griping to the extent that new economic sanctions against Iran will probably be
enacted soon. Of course, the last fifty years of history teach us that such sanctions don't work, at least not in the way intended. The average Cuban, for instance, is so accustomed to economic sanctions that it seems to him like normal life. If a third-rate country like Cuba can muddle through with sanctions, certainly Iran can. The results? THEIR gripes against us unite them behind a bad (and getting worse) government, positions harden and war becomes more likely.
We gripe like crazy about people who appear to be working scams that hurt us, but never seem to be held accountable for it. Executives get called before Congress, but are well-versed in finger pointing that lead the gripes, they hope, to go against someone else. The underlings are just following the company "Mission Statement", while the top people had no knowledge of what was happening "on the ground". Now that they ARE made aware of lower level disasters, the bosses are determined - to make sure that as little as possible is paid out to provide any kind of remedy. Otherwise their stock options lose value. The profits get kept, but the losses are shared with taxpayers. Taxes? Only paid by the little people. So our gripes get ignored in the interest of deregulation, a multi-decade failure to anyone who's been paying attention.
When you watch TV from long-gone times, you understand what the guy meant who called it a "vast wasteland". That would apply to most other entertainment and news media as well. At any rate, we're still griping, though our gripes have bifurcated. Republicans sneer at the "liberal media", while Democrats call it the "corporate media". Nobody's happy. Personally I think it's better, and glory in the choice of 2-3oo channels. Of course, we don't actually get them, being determined to live humble, thrifty lives from here on in. And that's another thing I'd like to gripe about, but on another day.


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