Hi On we go - leaving on Wednesday for Charleston SC - no more column till March OK George

Sour Grapes and Saddle Sores

George Hirst

The Velvet Prison Feb 9,2006

One of the things that makes me uncomfortable is the way in which the public is "taken care of". Our freedoms are limited and we are losing our democracy. This did not take place recently but has been developing over a long period of time. For our purposes here we will call it a velvet prison.

Our country was founded on the principle of less government. No taxation without

representation was the battle cry of the revolution. The plutocrats who were elected in those days had other occupations, so government was only a part of their lives and the lives of the nation.

The turning point of the "government takeover" came during the days of the Great Depression when Herbert Hoover was president. The 1932 election issue when Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for election was how to bring an end to the depression. Roosevelt declared that he had a plan to "fix these times." The emphasis for us is on the "fix". A lot of legislation was passed to do the fixing. This for me is a mark of a change. The nation was so desperate that Roosevelt's plan was accepted. The problem is that the fix did not work and the depression was ended with World War Two when employment was high and wages were also high.

Present day velvet is based on the word fear. We are told that we are in danger from terrorists, but not to worry it will be "fixed". Public actions then are based on that fear and on patriotism that supports the soldiers in the war.

A second velvet treatment is by the plutocrats who run the corporate structure of the land. Selling is done on how good the products are and how much we "need" them. Profit taking is the highest interest. Where and how products are manufactured is not an issue. Production is done wherever cheap help can be found,and outsourcing the word of the day. Being loyal citizens of the world we appreciate the goods and do not deny the need to be international in our tastes.

Another part of the velvet prison is the way health care is sold in the media. The idea of "fixing" things is really present. Sometimes I think it comes very close to the travelling salesman of my younger days who sold "cure alls". Medicines were sold that would heal everything from a broken finger nail to a lame horse. Health insurance offers are so abundant that we need to remember that it would not be prevalent if it were not profitable.

The issues are so memorable because it sounds very much like slavery. The way the people who owned slaves used to say,"We love our people". Housing was poor and pay even worse. "American people are good" is a common phrase used to sell the issue.

Today's plutocrats talk about how much they care for our children and, why we need to look after the poor. But efforts to help are over zealous and underfunded. A very good example is the dike that failed and made the flooding worse in New Orleans. It was discovered that there were funds allocated to improve the dike but a shortfall arrived and the funds were not spent, because something else was more important. We really don't care for the poor or our children.

What to do about it? Two groups headed by local men give much hope. The Stark County School Board, Mike Rumbold, chair person is a good one. Creative use of funds to improve not only the content and style of education but also the buildings and support systems is remarkable. Available funds are found from several places and used to do what needs to be done to support the teachers and the schools.

The other group is headed by Mike Bigger, business man from Wyoming, who is president of the Stark County Board of Directors. With his leadership, the Stark County Ecomomic Development Partnership has been formed. The effort arose from activity in community development in the county as well as our towns, Bradford, Toulon and Wyoming. A person is being sought to head the Partnership and plans are being made to take seriously the strength and life that is present in Stark County. The effort has come to the attention of other bodies in Illinois.

But I said, "velvet prison". A great deal is being made of freedom, but I am afraid that the freedom we have is so comfortable that is locks us in and does not move us to change things. Morality and freedom are not to be legislated. They are made possible when a free people find ways to live a good life, when people restrain from violence in their living and refuse to permit hurtful things to happen to others. Our problems, also, cannot be "fixed" they have to be solved. We cannot promise to "throw" money at something and expect it go away. We have to relate to those who are causing problems and help them find ways to move away from actions that are violent and unacceptable. It is our prison and we must find way to do away with it.

Created by KKris. Last Modification: Saturday 09 of September, 2006 17:35:38 EDT by KKris.