Managed liberty

I’m confused by the daily news. It used to feel so much more interesting. Yet, when I read the headlines, the very same things I was passionate about then are still being trumpeted today. War here and there. Celebrity pregnancies. Economic prophesying. All types of traffic crashes and the occasional firearm slaughter. I guess my life has just been busy lately. Maybe I have less interest in the news because I have less time to feel its excitement.

The other day a mega millionaire published a refreshingly candid guide on how his dramatically underpaid staff should structure their budgets to live on less than enough. I paused to reflect, because for a long time I’ve noticed our financial press is essentially the same thing: pundits enthusiastically telling people how to manage money – as if we have it.

Somehow, this cultural schizophrenia endures. Our brains are occupied with voices and images that excite us when we’re not preoccupied trying to pay for dinner. There’s no time for anything else. There’s no seeing our way forward. I was chastised for chuckling at the ambitions of the so-called ‘Occupy’ movement, but apparently those movers are once again sated with their eco-proletarian news clips and their numberless rock and roll bands.

My personal view is the mass of humanity does just fine if it’s given bread and water, and tossed a few icons to devote energy to when it isn’t simply hungry. Our current re-characterization of this is hidden in our discussions of ‘liberty’ versus ‘security.’ A secret organization with broad military power and juridical immunity has been formally handed control over the communications apparatus of the entire nation. Excluding topics deemed unacceptable by the organization, the public conversation is animated and interesting.

Already, our children have learned there are things you ‘don’t say’ on Facebook. Everyone using email in this country knows not to string certain threatening words together, even in intentional parody, or face scrutiny by the unelected police.

The pompous buffoonery on congressional display in speeches about being ‘at war’ are deathly serious. We have been occupied, by a secret organization of professionals dedicated to controlling us against our will. They’re not part of any constitutional process, and their loyalty is not to the people who vote. Whatever the NSA is, it is not the United States.

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