Monday, July 09, 2012

The Retreat At Home...

I'm usually not one to buy into the whole "our civilization is collapsing" rhetoric, but Michael Auslin at The Corner makes the case against my positivism:  I'm missing the depth and breadth of the societal breakdown because it is happening too gradually to grasp.

Well, maybe.  Auslin also lives in Maryland, where the power has been out for days due to a single  thunderstorm.  But perhaps that gives him better perspective than I:

The only problem with our descent into civilizational breakdown is that it isn’t quite efficient enough. It’s happening too slowly and it’s spread over too wide a canvas for much of the population that cares to make a last stand at Fort Freedom...

Our collapse is real, but in a vast country of 300 million people, the long, agonizing shuffle up to Lover’s Leap is hard to grasp. It happens in drips and drabs, and ...daily life offers us myraid opportunities to just adapt and acquiesce ever so slightly. So what if Pepco, after not having been able to turn my power back on for five days, wants to jack up my monthly electricity bill by $5.50? It’s only another $66 per year. I can handle that; can’t I? And, my Maryland taxes went up from 4.75 percent to 5.25 percent (while my lights were out, of course) — well, I don’t even really know how much extra that costs, but, say another $300 per year. Just tighten the belt a bit. Can’t drive the straight shot home because the neighborhood is too sketchy? There are other streets. My son isn’t learning American history in school, but knows all about composting? I can teach him at home; can’t I?

Each retreat seems so small, and so much the better if I can take care of it by changing my own behavior. But we get numb from the cumulative effect. And wind up making larger and larger compromises. Guess we won’t redo the kitchen this year (or decade), or take that nice vacation — didn’t really need them.

Now we’re headed there as a country...By the time enough of us see how diminished our life is becoming to demand some real hope and change, it will be way too late...I’ve got a plan though: Buy shares in sackcloth makers. Penance will be a big hit when the lights go out for good.

I keep thinking the American people are ready to say "enough!" and fight back against a government that has eroded our standard of living, and openly plans to do more of the same in the future.  And then I see how many people would rather vote against Mitt Romney for daring to be being rich, as opposed to voting for him in order to become rich themselves.  I see the same people ready to pull the lever for Barack Obama, eager to empower him to steal their neighbor's hard-earned money in order to get a (small) portion of it for themselves.  They are willing to sacrifice freedom in exchange for a pittance, as they fight to be the first to cast their pearls, without even getting a pork chop in return. And as a nation, it appears as if we no longer wish to plan for a glorious tomorrow, we only seek to rob each other in the attempt to live (large) another day.

And I start to wonder if Auslin is right after all, and it's already too late...

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