Slide to Perdition Part 1

I am reminded today of how much our world changes during economic downturns, how everything about the world changes some for good and some well not so much. This time though, this time I think it has been worse than others times, I have to ask myself, why is that what is different? I believe there have been some very real changes in the social dynamics, as well as, business dynamics of this nation. Sure, we complain about the perceived and very real slights but we don’t seem to be willing to take any real action to change course. Instead, we continue to pour oil on the slide to perdition and plant not only our own asses but those of the next generation so we can give them a push almost as if we want to see just how hard they will land.

Did you read that, scratch your head and say to yourself Val has gone off her meds, wonder what she is rambling on about this time? I just want to talk about some observations, provide you with my personal aggravations some that you also might encounter, things I notice these days that I think weren’t like this before, things I have heard everyone complain about yet we continue to live with. I have to say first, this might be a bit of a rant, yeah I might sound a little like some old women sitting on the front porch shaking my cane and in a wavering voice stating the obvious;

‘It wasn’t like this when I was young!’

Clearly not, when I was young things were indeed different. First, when I was young, there was a complaint department; every single last company in the country had one. The funny thing about the Customer Complaint Department was there were real people in that department, they answered the phone and spoke respectfully to you when you called. They were concerned that you were not happy with their companies product or services and they were committed to finding a way to ensure not only were you happy this time, but that you would be a return customer. These days, not so much, if at all. In fact, if you get a live person on the phone their goal is to convince you it isn’t the product that is the problem it is you, after spending 30 minutes on hold and another 60 minutes asking the person on the other end of the phone to repeat themselves as they speak some language other than your own, you will find out that — You are the problem and even if you aren’t the problem, well it doesn’t really matter cause there is not one damned thing

Just one of many off-shore call centers

you can do about it; no refund and no competitive product or service, tough nuggies.

Oh Val, really aren’t you being a bit harsh you ask. No, I am not. I am not at all. That much vaunted and wonderful free market has created a nightmare. The only thing trickling down is products made of toxic materials and made-to-break for which we pay 1000 times more than the components used to build them. They will break and when we try to return them for service or because our child becomes ill, we find they can’t be returned or the warranty ran out the day prior to them breaking. I dare you, walk through your house and grab ten random items, I will bet eight of them were not made in America, do not even have American parts. I will go one-step further, if you picked up any electronics if you call their Help Desk, you will not get anyone on the phone who speaks English as a first language.

You are likely thinking to yourself right now, that is a bit over the edge Val, a little off sides. Well maybe it is, perhaps that was a bit on the cruel side, I am not feeling charitable to business today. In fact I am feeling downright uncharitable to businesses that don’t stand by their products and services.

Yesterday was two weeks without air conditioning on my second floor, the part of the house with my office and my husband’s music room, frankly where we spend a large part of our time. For 26 years and three houses, I have maintained a home warranty on my house through the same company. On average, the cost of this service has been $38 per month, so the total price I have paid for peace of mind has been $11,856. This year the cost went up and new conditions were added to my contract, new conditions such as the 24-hour wait time for emergencies, another increase in the co-pay. I thought these new conditions weren’t great, especially during a recession but still this is the best Warranty company around, or so I thought. Until yesterday when I found out the part required to fix my air conditioner was on back-order, had been on back-order two weeks ago and after two weeks in 105 degree weather I still wouldn’t have my air conditioner fixed, they hadn’t bothered to call, look for an alternative …. Nothing. I had to call them. When I did, because I hadn’t received confirmation of my appointment, the only excuse was:

‘We don’t call when there is a back-order, that isn’t our problem to notify you.’

So, I am just a little cranky. I have more of these stories. More of these observations of what the ‘free market’, Globalization and Outsourcing has done to us; I think I will tell them this weekend. Frankly, I think we are meaner people over all. Meaner of spirit, meaner in our manners and in our compassion toward each other. I think we are uglier. I think we are turning into a nasty and mean nation of greedy,

Where in Hades is the Fire Extinguisher?

self-serving and self-righteous prigs. Those who have will do anything to keep what is theirs; including lie, cheat, steal and grind those they believe are beneath them into the ground. Those who have been convinced they can join that club will do anything and say anything to slide in beside them.

The rest of us are left out in the cold, or in my case puddled in our own sweat wondering just what in the fires of Hades has happened, and where the extinguisher is.

The D.C. Quagmire

I am sickened by our elected officials, truly to the point now where I simply want to put my cowboy boots on and stomp some azz. The problem is, as someone recently pointed out, whose?

Just Like Mine – Perfect to Kick a Little

Is it those who are so comfortable in their offices in Washington, failing to do the people’s business who require azz stomping? Or alternatively, is it those who continue to put them there either through their failure to exercise their right to vote or worse by actually voting to return these dinosaurs back time and again. These are questions that are weighing on my mind, they trouble me deeply.

In 2008, after the election and swearing in of President Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell (R) Minority Leader said in an interview to the National Journal (available only to subscribers):

The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

Since that time, the GOP in both the House and Senate have their marching orders and have done nothing but obstruct. Do not get me wrong, they are often assisted by their opponents on the other side of the aisle who fail to lay clear terms and draw clear lines. The problem is, no one is working toward common ground that is in the people’s best interest. Each and every elected official we send to do our business in Washington is beholden to some entity that is not us, not the people. They seem to forget they are there to do the peoples business, that it is us that foot the bill with our tax dollars, they forget us once they have attached themselves to the golden teat that is the public fund.

Let’s take a look at recent events and recent legislation (pass or fail).

House votes to repeal Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), not once, not twice but 33 times in all. Hope springs eternal says Speaker of the House, John Boehner. The cost of this wasted time, it is good question and here is the answer; $71,225,000,000.00 in real terms, I could buy a lot of school lunches and back to school books with what John Boehner and the House Republicans wasted with symbolic debates and repeal votes to

John Boehner
Official Portrait Wikipedia

pacifying the Tea Party.

Since 2008 there has been a war waged against women and their reproductive privacy and rights. This war is at every level, State and Federal. It is waged on Senate floors and on the airwaves. No low is too low and no insult to ugly. No fewer than 1,000 pieces of legislation have been introduced to restrict women’s access to health care services, birth control and abortion. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice is irrelevant at this point, these are just two at a national level.

  • Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA) introduced a HR 358 – the “Protect Life Act” allowing states to deny insurance coverage for abortion including transport to a facility that would provide a woman with an abortion even if failure to provide an abortion would mean the death of the woman. The “Let Women Die Act” passed the House on 10/13/11.
  • Finally, last but not least is HR 3803, introduced by Rep Trent Franks (Rep), this lovely piece of trash had no less than 220 co-sponsors. Named the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, it is a nothing more or less than another end run around Roe v. Wade, another clear message to women everywhere, ‘you have no value.’ This Bill clearly says, save the ‘fetus’ first, never mind the pregnant woman. Thankfully, it failed despite the 17 Yea votes by Democrats under Suspension of Rules.

So what is really happening, these days? We have a few Democrats walking off the farm, they do this consistently. Take a look at them, where they are from and you have to ask yourself why do they even bother to call themselves Democrats, why not call themselves Moderate Republicans, centrists? But then, they would face a Tea Party challenge and like Dewhurst in Texas last week, they would lose, they would be

Mitch McConnell
Official Portrait Wikipedia

unemployed faster than they could spend their own money in their campaign.

The world of politics is changing, in truth it is getting damned ugly. Members of the GOP are walking away from their seats, simply walking away. They are leaving us with these thoughts on the state of politics and government in Washington.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R) has announced his retirement two days ago with these words:

I have to say that I’m frustrated by how much we — I mean the Republican Party — are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history.”

Rep. Steve LaTourette (R) has announced his retirement this week as well, here is what he had to say:

“The time has come for not only good politics, but good policy and I have reached a conclusion that the atmosphere today and the reality that exists in the House of Representatives no longer encourages the finding of common ground.”

Earlier this year Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) announced she would not seek re-election, here is what she had to say:

As I have long said, what motivates me is producing results for those who have entrusted me to be their voice and their champion, and I am filled with that same sense of responsibility today as I was on my first

Olympia Snowe
Official Portrait Wikipedia

day in the Maine House of Representatives.  I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.

We have lost some of our Democratic stalwarts as well, Barney Frank and Charlie Gonzalez, just two among the nine who have announced their retirement in the past year. The field is changing. Nothing is certain and we will see shifts in both houses of Congress with the next election. The problem though, if we don’t see a Congress that is willing and capable of compromise, willing to seek common ground we will continue to be mired in the muck. Our nation will continue to flounder. If we do not elect to Congress public servants capable and competent to govern, we as a nation will continue to degrade in the eyes of the world and as a player on the world stage.

If we don’t seek excellence over a good sound bite, statesmanship over single-issue we fail our today and all our tomorrows. I am sick to death of being afraid of having a discussion about politics for fear of losing a friend. I want to shine a light on our very real need to have those discussions, join those debates and not be afraid of disagreement. We can disagree and still be friends that is what makes us great the ability to debate our ideas without killing each other, at least that is what use to make us great.

These days though, the debate isn’t so pleasant people are afraid to add their voice to add their comments. There is only three ways it is either the vicious attack dog style, the ‘I love you but disagree’, or ‘I agree’. In the first there is never a good ending. In the second there is never a discussion and in the last we already agree.

What comes next? Where do we go from here? I certainly have my own ideas of what needs to happen. Clearly some of the GOP are beginning to feel the same way I do, put on their boots and wade out of the quagmire, but that doesn’t fix the problem does it?

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