The End of Democracy in the United States

by Bob Poole on February 24, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve written many blog posts. The truth is I am having a difficult time writing about marketing, sales, leadership and creativity at this point in time. I wasn’t sure why I was feeling this way. I’m going to be 62 this year and I realize I am in the last passage of my life so I thought that maybe I’m worrying too much about picking the perfect thing to do at this time. It’s important to me to not waste time on stuff that I don’t believe will matter. I’d like to leave this world a better place if that is possible.

I see a lot of people struggling right now with the economy. How can I help them? I’m very worried about people who have started their own business and don’t have much of a marketing background and probably little to no sales experience.

But, the one thing that keeps forcing its way into my thoughts is what’s been happening to our own country. Nearly 15 million people are officially unemployed and another 12 million have either settled for part-time work or given up the search for a job. Many of these people have started their own businesses with most of them relying upon trading time for money which is not sustainable over the long haul especially if you don’t want to work 7 days a week and 12 hours minimum a day.

These 27 million people are in even more trouble because most of them have gone through all or part of their retirement funds trying to keep their homes or pay back the banks. And, meanwhile, Republicans and other Conservatives have declared war on social safety net programs in order to look like they are trying to balance the budget. The budget was balanced before George W. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and a band of war criminals lied to invade Iran while letting Osama Bin Laden slip into Pakistan. “It’s the war, stupid,” should be the battle cry for anyone who really wants to balance the budget and stop some of the madness of the military-industrial complex.

Over the last 40 years this country has become a democracy in name only. The wealthy control everything and the government, politicians and courts have sold all the rest of us out. Eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex back in the 50’s and we ignored him. As a result we are now faced with a country that is not a democracy and millions of people who thought they were middle class and living the American dream only to find there is no longer any middle class. There is the wealthy and the rest of us. And, heaven help the poor because most everyone else has already done so.

More and more people who thought they were middle class are losing their homes because they have lost their jobs and are no longer employable. This is happening while the financial CEO’s report enormous new profits along with windfall bonuses for the same people who are largely responsible for this mess. Goldman Sachs average year-end bonus was $430,000. Meanwhile, 43,000,000 Americans are receiving food stamps.

Am I the only one seeing this? I don’t think so. I’ve sent out queries to friends and business contacts and they’re seeing the same things. Maybe it’s the people I associate with, maybe not. So I thought I’d post this here and get your input. What are the top three things you have personally noticed happening around you that concern you? What about that issue concerns you most?

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Pace Smith February 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Bob,

I see things differently. I look around me and I see a lot of good people who want to help others, but they are afraid. Afraid of losing their jobs, afraid of not being able to pay the bills, afraid of being vulnerable. From friends to colleagues to politicians, I see a lot of fear.

In my opinion, the antidote to fear isn’t new politics. It’s love. Pure and simple. If we can all be just a little kinder to each other (and to ourselves!) then there will be less reason for all those people to continue acting out of fear. We can all open up a little and breathe.

That’s my plan, anyway. (:

Debbie Moore February 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Bob, your wife pointed me to your blog after I posted something on FB. It is killing me to see the division in this country. We are all Americans and we need to support each other, not look for things that divide us. I could not agree more with your assessment of the budget-balancing act now under way in Congress. It’s politics at its worst. I have always believed that those who “have” should help those that don’t. I used to be one who had; that pot has shrunk. A lot. So I expect the still considerable tax dollars that I contribute to go to the greater good– and that means helping those in need.

Bob Poole February 24, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Pace – I’d love to see civility and kindness grow exponentially! We desperately need it now. I’ve also observed both of those things gradually get smaller and smaller until now we are joyful to just see them occasionally. Why has that happened? I’m not sure but I think our freedom and capacity to express pure and simple love have been replaced by self-interests. We have 25 million unemployed, 50 million without health insurance, and 44 million living in poverty. It’s difficult to feel love or loved under those circumstances.

And, thank you for commenting. I love you!

Bob Poole February 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Debbie,

Nice to meet you! I think what is going on in our society right now is killing a lot of us and not just metaphorically. Yes, I want my tax dollars to do to the greater good too. I don’t want to hear from the likes of Scott Walker in WI or Christie in NJ or Corbett in PA how they will no longer use our taxes for education, health, welfare, libraries, etc. Walker says he needs to find $137 million for the WI budget yet he gave away tax breaks and other benefits to big business in January that almost equals that. Right now all of these conservatives are focused on killing off the middle class while kowtowing to the largest companies and the top 1 percent who control 43 percent of our nation’s wealth. Where is the outrage?

Becky Blanton February 24, 2011 at 8:49 pm

America no longer has a middle-class. With manufacturing and most production being out-sourced to third-world countries the jobs mostly occupied by the middle-class are gone. I won’t even venture into what Nixon and going off the gold standard did to what we have now….

We’re beginning to see people stand up in Wisconsin and protest tax cuts to the rich. I’d love to see some bankers in jail and I’d like to know why companies the government bailed out the past few years have the highest CEO, CFO and management bonuses of the past century in a time when they’re supposed to be scrambling to pay bills!! INSANITY!

Pace, while I like the idea that “love” can save the world I guarantee you that in a world where 1/4 of the population are psychopaths and sociopath, and another 1/4 are scared, greedy and panicked, that won’t happen. They are incapable of love. Almost all the rest have a scarcity/poverty mentality and can’t love.

I think people voicing their opinions – while they still can – is necessary to get politicians to realize they’re very much in danger of losing their political office and clout.

The top three things I’m concerned about are:
(1) Rule OF Law – and how our government has taken to essentially ignoring it
(2) The economy – so much is wrong with it and how the government is handling it I’d need a thousand pages to begin with all that’s wrong. Suffice it to say we encourage debt – borrowing to buy – which is just wrong on so many levels.
(3) Corruption – it is rampant among judges, law enforcement and politicians, to say nothing of corporations and those in positions of authority and power. We are a Country rotten to the core.

Patricia February 25, 2011 at 2:34 am

Yep, Snuck up on us didn’t it?
While we baby boomers didn’t start the fire we sure did fan the flames. Now it is up to us to clean up this mess. We will shortly be the largest senior group ever to hit the polls and it is up to us to vote in the right people to turn our country around. But, first we need to come into agreement as to who the right people are.
The only way we can achieve this is to turn our hearts back to God. Ask forgiveness for our sinful ways and once again put our trust in Him. Because, despite what our president says WE ARE STILL a Christian country with the majority of our people believing in the one true God. And we have been given this promise:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” 2Chronicles 7:14
We must do this, we must pray and listen to God’s voice in choosing our leaders or our country as we know it will be completely lost.
Meanwhile we need to help each other to survive until Christ’s return. Let me post this question. How many of you would offer shelter to a friend in need or volunteer at a food bank or even just donate what you can to the shelters? We must as a country not only return to God but we must also be about His work.
” I tell you whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me..” Jesus (Mt 25:40)

Nancy Hall Monte February 25, 2011 at 3:18 am

Bob, coming from the same hometown as you, we’ve seen the poverty of Appalachia on a level that few knew existed until our economy went down the tube. Now millions are at or in many cases below poverty level. I agree completely with your preception of what is wrong and how we got here. My 3 issues would be this: (1)anyone who earns an income should pay taxes..rich or poor..but make the tax 10% for everyone; if you make $10,000 you pay $1,000 in tax, if you make $10,000,000 you pay $1,000,000 its fair, its accurate and everybody pays…we stand up to the Republican hierarchy and say enough..the rich are rich enough…and no, they are not stimulating the economy..they are busy looking for tax cuts to get richer..its beyond greed, its avarice, its sinful….(2) one word INTEGRITY..is it in an antique shop somewhere or did it die…I’ve traced my ancestry and found many patriots of the Revolutionary War, read their stories and found them to be persons of integrity…we have no statesmen anymore, they are lawless individuals who are working their own agendas and using our political system to their personal advantage. There is no longer any fear of consequences either from man or God…..(3)Prosecute George Bush for murder for taking us to war on false pretense. Innocent lives were cut short, our economy nearly bankrupted, our intergrity in the world community compromised….for what?…if Suddam Hussein was such a threat, then why haven’t we done something about North Korea…or countless other dictatorships…He(George Bush) wanted to go to war…there were no WMD’s and the info we were fed about nuclear weapons were lies too.

Love…God so loved the world that he gave His Only Begotten Son…and what have we done with that GIFT…As a Christian I am ashamed of what the church in America has allowed to happen, but there is hope.. if men’s hearts change the United States and the world could change…the obstacles are pride, greed, lust, avarice, perversness and a deaf and dumb spirit to the things of God.

Becky Blanton February 25, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Patricia, Nancy – you hit the nail on the head as far as what Christians can do – pray. Some people will repent and others won’t – we know that. I see this country as the man set upon by robbers and thieves and left on the road. The Good Samaritan tended to his wounds and his physical needs, and put him up at an inn (Not at his own home – because he wanted the man to fend for himself when he was healed. He didn’t want to adopt him, only help him.) Daniel, David and many characters of the Bible worked within a non-godly environment – changing by example. We’re after the fruit here. What can we do, how can we act to change through our works, not through preaching? Once Jesus told the rich man what he needed to do to get to heaven that was it. He didn’t argue or continue to evangelize. He continued to heal. What would that look like here?

Patricia, can you share how you helped at a food bank, or opened your home to a friend in need? Can you say more about how we can do that, or your experience?

Nancy, have you approached your church or pastor with your feelings? What was the response? It’s been my experience that people are loved into change, not shamed into it. How can we love people into change?

Bob Poole February 25, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Thank you Patricia, Nancy, Becky for your kind thoughts and questions. I’m looking for solutions and it starts in our community one person at a time. I’d love to hear some of your stories too!

Patricia February 26, 2011 at 7:21 am

Oh, the stories I could tell. However I don’t want to take up space here and also, I don’t want in anyway to sound like i am looking for kudos. So, I will answer your questions only to hopefully inspire you to reach out to those in need in your community.
We can all minister to our fellow man by simply listening when they talk. So often we hear someone talk of their need and unless there is some major tragedy involved like a fire or earthquake,, etc. we assume that they are ok and just complaining. We think they will get help from their family or church or some government organization. So, we as Christians give them a hug and say something like “I’ll pray for you” And that is as far as we go.
I used to do that and perhaps still do at times. But overall I have become a very inquisitive person and most often I will ask just what their need is. Some may think I am nosey. I know it is God edging me on to reach out to that person.
You see many years ago we went through a rough time and it seemed whenever we needed food there would be a knock on our door and someone (usually a stranger who had heard from a friend or family member of our plight) would be there with a box of groceries or a envelope full of money.
When we finally got on our feet we ask God how we could repay all that had been given us. His answer was to pass it on. How would we find those people who needed help? Again God answered “learn to listen; truly listen” and that’s what we have learned to do. As for the resources He always supplies; often beyond what we could ever have imagined. Opening our home happened because for 14 years our children were like magnets to school mates in troubled homes and our home became a safe haven for several wonderful boys who just needed a place to stay until things got better at home. Some were only here for a night and a couple stayed off and on for several years.
Another example would be some dear friends of ours are known to take in families who have been displaced either by job loss or some tragedy. They offer them a place to stay and lead them to people who can help.
As for volunteering all one needs to do is call their local food bank or shelter and ask what they need. We have worked through our church and community outreach centers. We have found that when we hear of someone in need if we don’t have the help they need we can ask our church, our neighbors and our friends and we always find someone who has just the item needed to help.
I once ask our neighbors and church for clothing donations for the homeless and said if we aren’t home just leave them on the front porch. We were out of town for the weekend and when we came home there was over 80 boxes of clothing on our porch. It took us days to clean and sort.
So, you see there are lots of people in need out there who don’t know where to go for help and there are lots of people who want to help but don’t know how . So, I guess you could say we have become a laison between them.
Hope I have answered your questions and given you some ideas on how you can get involved in helping.
Let me just add this advice the first step in any given situation is to pray and ask God for guidance then follow where He leads.

Patricia February 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I’d like to add to my last post that everything we have done was done without any government asssistance. It is simply neighbor helping neighbor. Just imagine how that could help our government budget if we all helped each other and didn’t need to depend on the government for everything.

Becky Blanton February 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Thanks Patricia! Very helpful! I love that there are Christians who act on their faith. I love that people who have a different faith but love their fellow man act on their love. In being generous and being a neighbor who helps neighbors our actions speak louder than words. For those who don’t have a faith, or who don’t pray – the clothing or food is no less welcomed. If a person who wants to help, or to contribute doesn’t have a Christian faith, (Judaism, Buddhist, etc) or is offended by talk of God, or prayer and the talk of prayer would drive them from a group helping the poor – would you honor their boundary (no God talk), stop being a stumbling block and simply walk the talk and pray in your own room for them; or would you insist on sharing and forcing your belief on them – possibly driving them from your organization and away from helping those in need, and potential conversion?

I ask because I know more people without faith who help others, than those with faith who do. I think among those who welcome the biblical perspective (me) it’s exciting, but I know among those who don’t we can alienate them and hurt a cause. Is there room for action without being a stumbling block?

Patricia February 27, 2011 at 1:32 am

Becky, First you need to understand we are not an organization or a cause. We are simply a family who loves Jesus and our fellow man and attempt to help those He sends our way.
When serving others I have found that you need to feed the physical body first before you can be open to feed the spiritual. So Yes, We do pray and read the Bible in front of the ones who stay in our home; and do offer that anyone who wants can join us. When we are at the shelters or food banks we abide with their rulings on religion.
We have been doing this type of work since 1983 and have never had anyone say they were offended. On the contrary, many have simply ask for more information about our God. Which opens us up to witness.
I would never push my beliefs on someone who would be offended. I certainly hope that is not how I have come across here. I hope that as you said our actions alone would speak to them. If not then that is their choice. God has given us our free will in this matter.
As far as my previous posts Bob ask for our opinions and I gave mine. Then you ask me to tell about how we serve so I answered that also. I have no other way to explain what we do or why we do it than to say that we do this because God told us to.

Becky Blanton February 27, 2011 at 7:09 am

No offense intended. I work with the homeless, with organizations and with a lot of people who blog and I speak about my faith when asked or in a one-on-one situation, but don’t usually post about it on a blog unless the blog is definitely of one faith or another or asks for spiritual input. I think it’s an internet thing. I mentioned “praying” for someone once and was chastised for injecting religion into the conversation. I just know that a lot of people won’t speak up for fear of starting an argument or hurting feelings – as I have appeared to have done. It wasn’t intentional. I was just trying to save some hurt feelings and seem to have caused them.

It’s like politics I suppose. I don’t mention my political party either! Please don’t take offense.

Bob Poole February 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Great stories, Patricia! Thank you! I see in later comments between you and Becky that there might have been a misunderstanding. I know Becky and I know that she is very curious and wonders how devout Christians (of which she is one) approach people who may not want to hear any talk about God, Jesus, or any kind of religion or spirituality. She has been “called out” for bringing religion into secular discussions. It sounds like you and your family “walk your talk” and are a wonderful example to other people.

In an earlier comment Pace said, “In my opinion, the antidote to fear isn’t new politics. It’s love. Pure and simple. If we can all be just a little kinder to each other (and to ourselves!) then there will be less reason for all those people to continue acting out of fear.” Love is what I see you and Becky both talking about. Thank you to all of you for sharing here.

Patricia February 27, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Thanks Bob for allowing us to use your blog to express our opinions. Please be assured that there are no hurt feelings here. If I came across as hurt or upset please blame it on the internet as it doesn’t allow for tone of voice. I did percieve Becky to be a good Christian. Becky I am sorry if I gave you the wrong impression. It seems we are actually in the same boat as far as speaking our beliefs. Bob catch you later on our High School group page.

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