Disclaimer: This is a general comment and not directed at any individual. What I’m saying below is admittedly a generalization, but I believe it is also a fair one if you look at the facts and data. It does not, however, negate any of the profound respect I have for so many who have done so much good in the world. You’ve all done so much more than I could ever hope to do. 🙂 My heart also goes out to the victims of opioid addiction (and other addictions) and also to their families. No one can begin to understand the pain and struggle you are enduring. You deserve nothing but sympathy, compassion and support and this post is not directed at you in any way.
BOOMERS, SQUANDERED PROSPERITY AND THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC
What has caused the opioid epidemic? Failure of imagination. A generation had great prosperity (through luck, circumstances, demographics, skill and hard work) and the best many of them could come up with is isolated cul de sacs, McMansions, Big Macs, the 3,000 mile salad, $150,000 kitchens, movie theaters in their basements, more more more more stuff we don’t need.
Human beings and the planet took a back seat to profits. And those profits were often squandered by some. They spent them on meaningless crap exactly at the time when intelligence and energy and resources could have been devoted to making for a great future. Instead they were wasted on an indulgent present.
The economic and political policies of many seem to have aspired to nothing (other than padding their own pockets and the pockets of corporations). Many of these folks didn’t look 7 generations ahead like the Native Americans. They looked ZERO generations ahead. In fact, a large number of them didn’t even seem to consider the fate of their own families and their own communities. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the proof is in the pudding:
– Nearly 50% of children in the U.S. live below or near the poverty line — per Columbia University School of Public Health study:
20 individuals now have as much wealth as the poorest 150 million Americans (half the country) — per The Nation magazine:
A study by the Atlantic found that 47% of Americans were economically insecure and couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency — per The Atlantic: “The Secret Shame of Middle Class America.”:
According to a study published recently by CBS News, 78% of workers in America are now living paycheck to paycheck. And each year that percentage is increasing.
The environment is clearly being damaged at a rapid pace as the interests of corporations (quarterly profits) are continually put above the interests of people and the planet. . . In addition to climate change and pollution of our air, water and land, there is also alarming news like this: “Natural world faces collapse as wildlife population plummets”
Here’s a startling admission by one member of that generation. He’s the CEO of the largest carpet manufacturer in the world (Interface Carpets). Here he admits what’s going to happen to people like him. Don’t miss this 30 second clip: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5pi7MedPUgE
– Look at our non-aspirational energy system
People will point to relatively low unemployment. But most are not living wage jobs. And they aren’t jobs with meaning. The failure of imagination rears its ugly head here too.
The best use of talented intelligent human beings is working in a warehouse??!! Puhleeeze. There is SOOOOOO much valuable work to be done but those controlling the levers of power don’t value that work because they don’t value PEOPLE and they don’t care about the FUTURE. So they actually actively work to DEVALUE teachers etc etc etc etc.
We saw this recently in our own community with an effort to give our schools to a corporation out of Florida which planned to fire all the experienced teachers and replace them with inexperienced ones at half the cost.
This is the level of morality and selfishness of some members of this generation. This is just one example of thousands of failures of imagination and failures to value what society needs. All these folks seem to value is the next expensive toy for themselves, society be damned. The selfishness of a portion of that generation has been extraordinary. And it has done so much damage.
And then those same folks have the nerve to look DOWN on the millenials???? That is proposterous. The failure of imagination that results in Harvard grads going to Wall Street and millions of other talented people working in warehouses instead of using their skills is a travesty and it wasn’t imagined by millenials.
That squandering of human talent, my friends, is the greatest failure of all. Leaders failed to put our talented people to work in meaningful jobs that produce results that society needs. That’s why kids that got great educations are using them to crunch numbers to enrich banks and hedge funds instead of enriching communities.
Many lament that Donald Trump does not represent America. He may not represent all of America but his general political & economic values sure seem to be in line with a significant portion of his generation. What we are now seeing may be the last gasp of that selfish patriarchal approach to the world.
I applaud everyone from every generation (including Trump’s generation) who is helping (and has helped) to make a positive shift possible. No amount of thanks could ever be enough to honor your hard work and goodness.
Is it by accident that the middle class got hollowed out? Absolutely not. It’s by design. It’s by policy. It was a conscious trade. The security of the middle class was traded for even greater wealth for the rich. Remember, the rich and the corporations they control OWN most of Congress. So Congress shapes policy to benefit the few at the expense of the many (and at the expense of the earth). It was a conscious trade, not some accident of fate. Doubt that? Look here:
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PROVED IT: https://clearblueskyoutwest.com/2017/09/09/www-represent-us/
And here “The Most Destructive Policy You’ve Never Heard Of”: https://clearblueskyoutwest.com/2017/09/15/the-most-destructive-policy-youve-never-heard-of/
And at a time like this, those folks and the corporations they run are hiding their money in the Caymans, Wilmington DE and overseas accounts to avoid paying their fair share. That generation is also dreaming up tax plans that will allow them to hoard more for themselves and make disparities even worse.
That’s why so many so called “moderates” have remained silent on Trump. They want a tax break for themselves — one that will be paid for by shifting wealth UP from the poor and what’s left of the middle class (cutting programs).
This is unconscionable, especially since the tax rate on the wealthiest Americans has been cut in HALF since 1970. And now they want more. At the expense of the poor. Who raised these people??
It couldn’t have been the greatest generation, our grandparents and great grandparents. Because they valued community. Strong community, strong business was the way they thought. Something really got lost in translation… a significant portion of the next generation completely ignored that principle and look at the results.
NOTE: There are certainly plenty of exceptions and many many many many great people, ideas and initiatives from the same generation. And I honor every single one of those exceptions that didn’t trade in their love of peace and community for a cheaply built McMansion and the politics that accompany them. But unfortunately the exceptions don’t disprove the rule.
To see that, all you have to do is look around at the world at what all that wealth has been used to create.
That prosperity was squandered. Has there ever been a more incredible waste of resources? Not only was net good not done. The choices made actually degraded communities and the planet and the momentum of that will continue well into the future. It’s not a runaway train but it’s a damn heavy one and it’s in full motion).
And now, with all that unnecessary desperation resulting from their failure of imagination, those same folks look around befuddled as to why there would be an opioid epidemic. The fact that it surprises them boggles the mind.
The opioid crisis on the ground, of course, is a story of a healthcare and pharmaceutical industry run amuck. And we should fix that. But if it wasn’t opioids, it would be something else. Emptiness is a dangerous thing. Nature abhors a vacuum. Something rushes into the manmade unnecessary void. And NO ONE, and I mean no one should be surprised.
Why? This is a story of squandered prosperity. There is enough to go around. Poverty is unnecessary. We have gigantic amounts of capital available, but due to the failure of imagination, all we could imagine doing was building an empty landscape of strip malls, warehouses and joyless housing that encourages isolation. Renowned author James Kunstler lays it out pretty clearly in this wonderful and often funny TED speech:
The question shouldn’t be, “Why is the opioid crisis so bad?” It should be, “Why isn’t it even worse?”
All that said, there is plenty of hope and there are plenty of solutions. And fortunately we have a new generation rising that is even larger. They don’t have access to capital but they sure don’t suffer from a lack of imagination. **And therein lies our hope for the future. They know that they want to live in sustainable dynamic communities (instead of vacuous isolated lairs).
This new generation can see through the lies, hypocrisy and false pretense. The last 20 years for many of them has been like watching the film “The Graduate” only out in the world and on a grand scale. They see what a mess that’s been left to them. And they are PISSED. And they should be.
It would be one thing if it was unavoidable. But this mess was totally avoidable. This mess came from greed, selfishness and intellectual dishonesty (voting for what would get that new kitchen or Porsche, not what would make for a vibrant, dynamic and sustainable community).
Thank goodness we have a new generation rising which has nothing to lose, values community and sustainability and possesses great imagination and wisdom beyond their years. With those things, there’s nothing we can’t achieve.
The future is bright thanks to the rise of this new generation (which fortunately also benefits from the guidance of the best of their parents’ generation). We can do this. This thing can turn on a dime.
Here are 12 good reasons to have hope. Cheers! 😊 https://clearblueskyoutwest.com/2017/09/11/what-gives-me-hop/