By Manifesto Joe
After coming home from my job very late in the evening after 19 elite firefighters were burned to death in Arizona -- the worst loss of life in a wildfire since the Great Depression -- I was channel-surfing the TV to find out the latest on this horrible development.
I was quite nonplussed to see that I couldn't find anything on it for a long time. Granted, it was all over the Internet. But even Fox News didn't have anything on it when I switched the TV channel there. Instead, they had some pasty-faced right-wingers on there decrying homosexual marriage, and then calling Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis and the Austin abortion rights protesters cheap thugs who hijacked the democratic process (if this had been the other side of the issue, of course they all would have been heroes who demonstrated the value of civil disobedience).
I couldn't find anything on the firefighters, at least not for a long time. Finally, as 2 a.m. came, my wife put the channel on CBS's Up to the Minute. At the top of the hour, there was finally an update on the 19 brave heroes who gave their lives trying to save people's homes from a raging wildfire.
CBS gave a very adequate account of the Arizona debacle. But it certainly took a long time for us to channel-surf enough to find it. This is when it hit me -- this country really has gone to hell, hasn't it?
This glaring omission by the news media, I considered, was just one of many ugly symptoms that some sort of rotten decadence has seized the very core of America. It's not ideological; it has little to do with right or left. It's more of a sense vs. nonsense question.
Something else I've been noticing is the carnage on the roads, and how many wrecks that kill and maim could easily have been prevented had the drivers used a bit of common (uncommon?) sense. In the city where I moved a little over five months ago, there are bloody wrecks on the local TV news almost nightly. People drive on the crosstown freeway here like it's the Autobahn, or perhaps even the Indy 500. They often don't even have the excuse of being drunk -- it's DWS, driving while stupid. Pickups, however shiny and new, and SUVs were not designed to be driven on freeways at 80 or 90 mph. When the driver loses control or has a blowout, the vehicle flips, and often someone, sadly in a nearby vehicle, is killed. And the police never seem to be there until it's time to pick up the pieces, and body parts.
American decadence isn't new. I started noticing it, big time, about 35 years ago, when I was still a very young man. But that's a long time, half a lifetime, for people, corporations and government entities to just keep exhibiting more and more brainlessness.
Yes, it's been happening to large institutions as well, and perhaps to them worst of all. For example, there's a general consensus that outsourcing has been a colossal failure. Jobs are being shipped to places on the planet where, quite often, English is not even the phone rep's second language, let alone their first. When I call some company for customer service or tech support, I often have to ask the rep to repeat what they just said. And it's usually the case that I have to call a second, or even a third time, to get the right thing done. Yet, despite the obviousness of this mistake, the profit-crazed corporations don't want to admit an error, and continue down this path unabated.
What we appear to be witnessing is the broad-based decline of a culture, and an empire. It can't just be something in the water -- the witnesses are drinking from the same reservoirs. The sad truth appears to be that this country has lost its soul, has become directionless. When 19 brave men die horribly in a wildfire battle, and it gets no more coverage, and perhaps not even as much, as gay marriage or a state-level abortion debate, then something has gone dreadfully wrong. It has little to do with which side of those social issues one is on. It's a very basic thread of human values that seems to have gone awry.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.