Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Should We Expect More?

Have you ever noticed how coincidental it is that your income is so close to the cost of living? I mean, for most of us middle class working Americans the majority of our paychecks are devoted to the mortgage, utilities, food etc. and, if we're lucky, a little bit left over for the savings account and a movie. Some are even fortunate enough to be able to save up for an annual vacation. However, for an enormous amount of us it's paycheck to paycheck with a variable of a small surplus or deficit. For most of us who punch a clock it doesn't really matter how hard you work or how dedicated you are because we are not proportionally compensated. Does it ever strike you as if the fix is in? Like perhaps there's something wrong with this scenario? Is it wrong to dream for more than that? Is it ungrateful or audacious to expect or hope for more than simply existing? Don't get me wrong, I do not mean to imply that we are entitled to a life of luxury and privilege or that the world owes us a living. But it strikes me as quite reasonable that those of us willing to work hard and put forth the effort toward an education ought to have opportunities to excel. Of course it can be argued that such is already the case in America, and I will concede that it often is...But not for most of us. How many bachelor degrees are there who owe at least $40,000 in student loans and graduate with English or Psych degrees, for example, and inherit an $8.50/hr. position at Starbucks or waiting tables at Applebees?
I guess what I'm getting at is that, as I understand it, it was the intention of the founders of this country that its citizens should be industrious, educated and prosperous and that each of us carry the burden of responsibility of citizenship - which means that it is up to us to keep our government in check and that the will of the people be done.
My contention is that it is no accident that our incomes so closely match the cost of living. It is no accident that so many of us can remember sports statistics or plots of films but have only a vague shadow of an idea of the contents of the constitution or bill of rights. And the average person has even less of an idea of the intentionally complex and vast workings of our political system. Why we war, why the housing market is collapsing, why the dollar is virtually worthless, why there is no "change" from Obama, why the unemployment rate is so high, what is NAFTA, why there are so many illegal aliens within our borders, why is everyone sick and overweight in our country, why are our prisons overflowing? Why is there so much teen pregnancy? why why why?
Is it time to turn off the TV and pour the beer in the sink? Should we take initiative? Should we try to help one another in order to help out the whole? Should we eagerly seek after an education? Should we be doing something?
It drives me absolutely crazy this feeling I have that it is all slipping away and there are so few of us who are actually willing to DO SOMETHING about it. Any thoughts? Any ideas? Am I expecting too much? Or should our heads remain where they want them?

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