Wednesday, January 16, 2013

AMERICA’S BIG 3 ADDICTIONS


AMERICA’S BIG 3 ADDICTIONS
Johann Wagener 1-16-2013


This is an intervention America. Time to face facts; you are addicted! All the signs are there! One of the major symptoms of addiction is to not be in control of things that cause us harm even though we are aware of the dangers and consequences. Here’s where it begins; someone comes along one day and convinces you that “more is better”, “greed is good”, “winning is all that counts” “power is might” and the biggest lie of all, “God is on our side”. Here, try it! Let’s sell you a home with no money down, you don’t need an income, it’s easy, just sign here and the “American Dream” is yours for the taking.  You’ll know when it happens; “wants” turn into “needs” and you find yourself camping out on the street in the front of an Apple store because you just have to have and iPhone! You line up at a gun store because you “need” a bigger, more powerful gun to defend yourself against; who knows what?  You drain your home of every cent of equity because you “need” that SUV or a time-share in Cancun. Soon, you find yourself “supersizing” everything you eat even though you don’t fit into your clothes anymore and huff and puff when climbing stairs.  
Here’s an example of how it works;
Everyone could use a little help keeping those New Year's resolutions to slim down. But if it means the government limiting junk food, the response is an overwhelming, "No." Americans call obesity a national health crisis and blame too much screen time and cheap fast food for fueling it. But a new poll finds people are split on how much the government should do to help — and most draw the line at attempts to force healthier eating.

And, just like any addiction, in order to maintain the high (which quickly wears off) you begin to “chase” it. That requires doing more, more often, until a time comes when you are totally consumed by it. Once you’re hooked, there’s no turning back. Soon you need a “BIGGER” flat screen TV’s, SUV’s, even a Mc-Mansion with 7 bathrooms for the 2 of you. And, no matter how much you try, there’s not satisfying the craving. Homes are lost, marriages are destroyed, jobs are ruined, children are abused and neglected, the American Dream turns into an American Nightmare.  And, just like with any addiction, it’s only a matter of time before you slam head on into reality and you plunge from the high into the lowest place one can go.
At that point you have successfully completed the first phase of the addiction cycle; the “crash.”  The crash is usually made up of remorse, reflection, self-loathing, blame, anger, and lots of promises about how you will not do it again, you promise. After that comes “recovery” which consists of pleading for help and depending on those you rejected during the highs; like big government for example. Where were the regulators, you ask, when you were being ripped off by the banks , real estate agents, and stock brokers?  How could our government allow people like Bernie Madhoff to rip us off?  Now that you have regained your sanity and are willing to acknowledge your mistakes, what then? Well, that depends. There are those who realize that, unless they “change” nothing else will change. Then then are those who retreat back into what the addiction people call “denial” (which is not the river in Egypt as they say) a psychological process in which we rearrange reality in such a way that edits or deletes anything related to the crash and only retains what we experienced during the high. For these poor souls the cycle continues; first the high, then the crash, then the recovery, and then? Well, that depends on you.
The 3 worse addictions America suffers from are those we also most highly protect; 1- Violence (guns)   2- Religion (God) and  3- Stuff (capitalism)

1)      VIOLENCE; Take guns, for example. Even though we know that our society suffers grave consequences from our blatant opposition for regulating them we seem unable to do anything about it. It’s like we have lost control of our senses when it comes to guns, much like our use of fossils fuels that know are destroying our environment (and, by default, us). Or, how about our addictive attraction to violence? Be it in the sports we crave, or the movies and TV shows we watch, or the kind of games we give our children to play with. One recent example is the NRA distribution of a video game for kids, 4 yrs. old and up that simulates shooting at coffin-like targets (see; http://politix.topix.com/homepage/4138-nra-releases-target-practice-game-for-kids-aged-four-and-older ) Only someone addicted to violence would not be able to see the association between this sort of behavior and that of those who take it to the extreme and literally massacre our children in our schools, movie theaters, malls, and churches.

2)      RELIGION; Karl Marx called it “the opiate of the people” because believers are hooked on the idea that everything that happens to them (or others) is “God’s will” which, if taken literally, means we are not in control of or responsible for our actions and their outcomes.  Just like any drug, we use it to make ourselves “feel good” about ourselves, our behavior, our morals. The more times we survive the crises we create, the more we crave the idea that God is on our side. Climate change? It’s not us, it’s God at work changing the environment. Asserting that a woman becoming pregnant after being raped that it’s a blessing from God? Our Civil War in which we slaughtered or maimed ourselves in the millions. Well, God was on both sides in that one. What goes unsaid is that it was “God’s will” to endow us, above all other living creatures, with “free will.”  Not “conditional” will; but free will, leaving us free to choose between right from wrong, left from right, up from down. God blessed (or maybe cursed) us with the ability to choose and, with it, made us solely responsible for the consequences of our choices.  Just like an alcoholic abuses, and blames booze for their problems, people who are dependent on religion, abuse and blame God for the “man-made” disasters we are faced with. Climate change, gun violence, poverty, war, are not “acts of God”  We don’t hesitate to scoff the “lone gunman” who claims, “God” told him to do it, but dare not challenge those that claim it is their “God” given right to own a gun, no matter what.

We forget that, in essence, God guides, but doesn’t lead. God doesn’t take too kindly to be used as a scapegoat. Free will leaves it up to us to decide which way we go.


3)      STUFF; If religion is the opiate of the people then  “capitalism” as we know it, is the “crack cocaine” of the people. Just like the Drug Cartels and Big Pharma who we can thank for hooking us on drugs themselves we can credit our “greed is good” Wall Street mentality for hooking us on “stuff.”  Surprisingly our biggest dealers is China. There no question that every home in America is stuffed with stuff “made in China” And, as a result, the Chinese have become our #1 creditor. Without firing a shot, the Chinese have successfully enslaved us to stuff from which they have made a tremendous profit in flooding us with useless junk that ends up in pollution filled landfills or a rented storage space we waste more of our hard earned money on. Public Storage, which is only one of thousands of storage companies, proudly boasts; 

Public Storage built its first self-storage facility in 1972. Today it operates over 2,200 unique and diverse company-owned locations in the United States and Europe, totaling more than 142 million net rentable square feet of real estate. Its PS Business Parks interest adds another 28 million (approx.) rentable square feet of commercial and industrial space. Based on number of tenants, Public Storage is among the largest landlords in the world.  (see; http://www.publicstorage.com/storage-company-info.aspx

Until recently the Chinese were “dealers” not “users”. Unfortunately  they have violated a dealers cardinal rule; don’t sample the product.   In Chairman Mao’s day the majority of the Chinese population rode bicycles which was practically a pollution free form of transportation and had the added benefit of keeping the riders in good physical shape; no gym membership required. Now, like us, the Chinese are hooked on stuff and, like us, are suffering the consequences. By replacing those efficient bicycles with gas guzzling, smog polluting SUV’s that they plow down the streets of Beijing while munching down on a “super-sized Big Mac (much like a story book scene of “Main Street  America.”) they are not only becoming obese but are literally choking on the air they breathe; all side effects of stuff addiction.  


These are but a few of the signs of America’s addictions and if we dare take a closer look, we will surely find many more that fit easily fit the definition. If, as God intended, and as President Obama recently advised, decide to not “change” the direction we are going in we can rest assured that, as with most addictions, there will be no happy ending to the American Experience.