It's my life

By Ken Frederic | Apr 04, 2019

I marvel at my wife’s knowledge of movies and music: She’s a formidable trivia opponent. I may know an artist’s name or a popular piece, but rarely do I associate the two. So, I was struck when I first actually listened to Billy Joel’s “My Life” lyrics about a month ago: How often I’ve thought:

“I don't care what you say anymore this is my life

Go ahead with your own life leave me alone

And you can speak your mind

But not on my time”

When she pointed me to “Revolution,” I looked up the lyrics and found the Beatles had also captured my thoughts years before they occurred to me.

“Well, you know

We all want to change the world

But when you talk about destruction

Don't you know that you can count me out

You say you got a real solution

Well, you know

We'd all love to see the plan…"

“Revolution” contains much more, addressing the notion that individuals have the right to decide where their contributions go and, even more importantly, that the message to those proposing to change the Constitution should be that what we want is for them to change their thinking.

We’ve long been plagued by demagogues (last month’s "feather merchants") who appoint themselves the guardians of the rest of us. These demagogues invariably preach that we can’t care for ourselves, that we are being "oppressed," or that we aren’t spending our money morally. Instead, they propose, we should turn over our freedom of choice to them and they will care for us and others, protect us from oppression, and set the rules for how much wealth each of us should be allowed to accumulate and what we must do with it. They insist the government will treat us with the fairness, compassion, empathy and equity that our neighbors, employers, family, friends and churches will not. Remote bureaucrats will make decisions with universal fairness and efficiency and ensure equality of outcomes for us all.

But, before he died in 1947, Henry Ford told us: “Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian.” And surely, we’ve all heard the joke about Chief Walking Eagle. I would challenge any who doubt to ask a school teacher (but not an administrator) how much the federal Department of Education and Common Core have improved classroom instruction. Ask a practicing physician how much the ACA, Medicare and Medicaid have improved patient services or reduced opioid abuse.

The worst feather merchants are politicians who promise to fix our problems in exchange for just a little of our freedom and our vote to increase someone else’s taxes and confiscate their "excess" wealth. They may project confidence, sincerity and even competence, and some may even know a bit of what they preach, but the feather merchants won’t be making the decisions: Some federal or state bureaucrat will. Ask yourself: In your experience, which of those that you’ve interacted with would you have decide what kind of house you need, what furnishings and appliances you need, what food you need, which car you need, how much gasoline or heating oil you need, or whether your child is sick enough to need a doctor?

I don’t want government “help,” and I surely don’t want people who, in my estimation, are unfit to decide which side of their own toast to butter to decide my needs. Some elected officials I respect and admire, but others I deplore and hold in the utmost contempt, along with most bureaucrats that ordinary folks encounter.

To them I say: This is my life. Leave me alone. Leave my neighbors alone. Leave my town alone. Leave my county alone. Leave my employer alone. Frankly, your results don’t impress me much. How dare you propose to manage for me what you’ve failed to manage for yourself!

Comments (4)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Apr 05, 2019 17:19

April 5th is Golden Rule Day around the world. Have enjoyed watching programming from around the world. I believe the Beatles also had a song called. "Come Together".  Hope and love will always trump fear and hate because it is so much more fun and will make us  sleep much sounder.   I know what works for me; it may not work for you. ;)   Maine Teen Advocacy Coalition gives this old duffer encouragement that our world will be in good hands.



Posted by: Kevin Riley | Apr 05, 2019 12:27
Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Apr 05, 2019 09:56

How the right never tires of the "politics of fear."  And it's only fear for yourself, Ken.  Not one mention of the many social problems that burden so many Americans.  You have no words of concern, of empathy,  for your countrymen but only contempt for those who do.

"Demagogues," Ken?  Wasn't it your party that elected a bloated poser who said that, "Only I can fix this country?"  Who promised to "bring back coal?"  To give everyone "the best health care?"  To never play golf because he would be "working so hard for you?"  And let's not forget how he was going to "fix the deficit,"  "Defeat our enemies,"  and "make America great again?"  Wasn't he going to do it all "for you."  Almost laughable now, isn't it.  Well, as one of the great demagogues of history once said, "The victor will never be asked if he told the truth."

 

Why is it that the right is always worried about their own personal freedom when the left rises politically but never cares when the corporate state loots our economy and ravishes our society, when plutocrats control our government for their own benefit, when politicians sell their votes to the highest bidder (even to an aggressive foreign power) and when thousands of Americans die every year at the hands of other Americans with guns in their hands.  Apparently even when Big Pharma turns drug pusher and single handedly reinvents heroin addiction as a national scourge conservatives just hunch their shoulders and utter their inane "thoughts and prayers."  I have to wonder who you're praying to.  I suspect it's to the "lord of lies."

Albert Einstein once said, “The real purpose of Socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development.”

Given the right wing's tendency give the most "freedom" to the economic elite -the biggest predators-, while stripping it from anyone without the means to pay the price, I have to assume that you prefer the "predatory" nature of a plutocratic society.  While the vast majority struggles to acquire the necessities of life our economic overlords escape responsibility for any of societies needs by shifting the tax burden onto what's left of the middle and working classes, ignoring the needs of the poorest Americans and gutting the social safety net, all the while extorting concessions from every community in the form of externalized costs in return for what ever poor paying jobs it offers; modern economic blackmail.  But it's all for money, isn't it?  As trump bragged to his "friends" in Florida after pushing through his outlandish tax cut for the richest of the rich, "I just made you all a lot richer." It's almost too logical then that the most recent Republican president is not only the richest but also the most corrupt, the most self-absorbed, the most double-dealing, the most dishonest, the most mendacious, and the most inhumanly sociopathic of men.  Truly, trump is the perfect manifestation of American conservatism.

Yes, Ken, It's your life but you don't live it alone.  No one does.  Society is collective.

 

Michael J. Thompson, founder and editor of Logos, and teacher of Political Science at William Paterson University defines “Social liberalism”:  individuals were not autonomous entities, they were socially constituted; each of us relied on complex systems—from the division of labor to bureaucracy—to survive and flourish under the conditions of modernity and especially under capitalism.”

"Under capitalism" are the key words there since we have allowed that system to become a sword hanging over the heads of the middle class in this country.  The only difference in interpretation of that definition is that the left wants society to be a collective of equals but the right wants it to be subdivided into a small collective of wealth and influence and a large collective of the "undeserving," the "takers" as a lesser conservative once said.  

You express such self-serving resentment as being told "what kind of house you need, what furnishings and appliances you need, what food you need, which car you need, how much gasoline or heating oil you need, or whether your child is sick enough to need a doctor," yet you would surrender those decisions to an unelected corporate plutocrat whose economic power over our government allows him to twist the "free" market to his own benefit, limiting individual freedom under the God of profit.  Of course in your opinion his very success -no matter how unethical or immoral- makes his decisions superior to your own.  

That's the right's picture of a perfect society.  The left advocates what Lincoln once described:

"The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere."

The only trouble government has in doing this for its citizens is when Republicans deliberately under fund every government agency, or hire corporate lobbyists to undermine them from within as they have done for three decades or more in order to "starve the beast," ruining the system for all but those who live above it.  But you "deliberately" don't mention that.  It's more than evident from your rant, Ken, that you have no problem with the corporate state interfering in government.

P.J. O’Rourke said it perfectly, "Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then gets elected and proves it."  I prefer a simpler platitude.  Bad people make bad government.

Edward O. Wilson, in his book On Human Nature described the world you prefer.  “There is a convergent principle in political science known as the Director’s Law. Which states that income in a society is distributed to the benefit of the class that controls the government…  And it can be further noted that all kinds of institutions, from corporations to churches evolve in a way that promotes the best interests of those who control them.”  

"Those who control them."  That's your world, Ken.  While you whine about "your life" you want to leave in place a system where the lives of the greater mass of Americans are under the control of the corporate and economic elite, where wealth determines the degree of freedom allowed.  Like your president you demonize any media you can't control and denigrate anyone who doesn't bow to your masters, the economically powerful.  Conservatives are the collaborators in the oppression of the majority by an elite minority.  Your just fine with a system that crushes upstarts -your "feather merchants"- just so long as you're on the winning side.

Of course, being of the left, I prefer someone who knows what struggle is like and who identifies with all those who know.

"I'm not running "from the left."  I'm running from the bottom.  I'm running in fierce advocacy of working class Americans.  That's my North Star.  Always has been.  Always will be."  -Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

And if that offends you, Ken, then that's just fine, better than fine, it means she's hitting you where it hurts, in your sycophancy of the economic elite.  I prefer a system that leaves no one out and welcomes those who have struggled to get here under the worst circumstances.  I prefer a system that guarantees a humanitarian concern for all Americans of every economic level.  

Juan Cole puts it best:

"The critical economic and political question for humanity is not whether our means of living will be controlled by corporations or government, but whether control will be concentrated for the benefit of the few or dispersed, with benefits shared by everyone."

 

Even you, Ken.  Even you.



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Apr 04, 2019 16:13

A-Men!  .... You said it all!



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