Forward thinking

I spent most of last week increasingly withdrawn, on the verge of tears. I knew the source — my job. But not in the way we’re normally beaten down by our jobs.

I’m not oppressed by the man, or underpaid (although I am overworked), or even undervalued. I do struggle with my boss, but my coworkers are the best in the business and I’m quite honored to work with them. Doubly honored since I’m their supervisor and they actually listen to me.

But my job requires that I see and hear all the stupidity mankind can muster, day after day, for eight solid hours each day. It’d be OK if I were one of the masses, one of the millions who can’t or won’t see beyond their own insular universe. But I’m not. Neither are you, most likely.

And because I’m not, I fret and worry about our future. Our Future. The Futures of All Of Us. We, the People. Even so, if the indifference, the complete lack of empathy, of any type of sensitivity that characterizes so many these days weren’t constantly being rubbed in my face, I’d probably be all right.

But it is, and I’m not.

It took the entire week to get beyond the depression, the tears, and to open up to the anger, the profound disappointment I feel toward our government, my fellow citizens.

But I got there. I am there. I’m likely to be here for a long time. And because it eats away at my ability to enjoy life — and the only way I’ve ever found to ease that pain is to write about — you may be hearing much more from me than usual. I can’t shy away from this any longer.

All around us are the vestiges of our — humankind’s — earliest existence. Those long, long ago days when we understood nothing about the world around us except that there were an awful lot of things that could and would kill us. Security was Job No. 1. Security for us, for our families. For our tribes.

We don’t live in caves anymore, though. When I walk out my front door, I don’t have to look around to make sure a tiger isn’t crouched and ready to eat me. If it’s cold, I turn up the heat. If I’m hungry, I check the fridge or the pantry, and if I don’t find something I want, I head out to find it. No tigers, no enemy tribes will block my path.

I’m safe. My family is safe. My town is safe, my county and state are safe. So is my country. But when I leave my house and my little town and travel to the inner city, ride the escalators up to my newsroom and put the headset around my ears, I’m immediately bombarded with the voices of those who would have me believe I’m not safe, not at all. The terrorists — the Muslim ones — are out to get me. The Mexicans are stealing my job and my right to go to school and get health care. Taking care of the poor is going to bankrupt me. The gays are going to ruin my marriage.

Oh wait. I am gay, and I’m not married. Yikes. If that one’s not valid, does that mean the others aren’t either?

Two of my supervisor colleagues are Muslim. So’s one of my copy editors. One of my staff is Mexican. None of us are poor, but my little group just raised more than $700 so a family could have a Christmas. And my family took the name of a little girl off the Salvation Army tree and made sure she’s having one too, with warm clothes and shoes and even a few toys. I just hope they’re all OK after the holidays are over, when none of us are paying any attention to them anymore.

It didn’t bankrupt me to do what little I did. And it won’t bankrupt the government to help them the rest of the time. But the cavemen who make up the conservative movement in this country think it will. To them, it’s every man, woman and small child for themselves. No health care? Get a job and pay for it. No job? You lazy bum. I got mine, fuck you.

It’s a mindset I cannot understand. Most of these cavemen have more than enough. Way more than enough. And it’s still not enough. They must have more tax cuts. Hell, they’d prefer if there were no taxes. They’d create jobs then.

Except they won’t. If businesses and their owners have extra money from tax cuts, they don’t hire more people. They only hire, they only create jobs, when they have more customers than they can take care of with what they already have. Then they’ll create jobs. Begrudgingly, but they will create them.

But they don’t have customers right now. Because their customers don’t have jobs. Catch-22, right? Not really. There’s an easy way out, and it calls for government spending.

Our infrastructure — bridges, roads, sewers, the electrical grid, all that sort of thing — is in terrible condition. If it’s left to continue rotting, it’ll soon be useless. I suppose the conservatives think that “business” will then pitch in to rebuild, the way they pitch in to help the poor. Even if they do, they’ll charge us for the right to use it. More money we don’t have, because we don’t have jobs.

The real answer is for our government to give us jobs, to create a project to fix these problem, and to move us fully into the 21st century, with things like broadband and high speed rail, clean energy and clean machines to run on it. Then businesses will have customers again, and they’ll hire more employees, creating more jobs.

Simple, isn’t it? You wouldn’t know it from the News, though. And that’s what’s killing me. The News would have us believe we’re actually arguing over whether spending money to create jobs is a good thing, or giving people who can’t find jobs a little money — way less than they were making before they lost their jobs — is a good thing. Or whether the filthy rich, who have had the Bush tax cuts for almost a decade now and done absolutely nothing but line their own pockets with ’em will now, suddenly, create jobs.

They haven’t, and they won’t. And I just cannot fathom why that isn’t obvious to everyone.

I have a job, and for that I’m grateful. But it hurts, having this job, seeing and hearing people so completely clueless. I feel very alone some days.

But I know, as I’ve said many times, that progress can’t be stopped. It’d just go so much faster without prehistoric man trying to drag us by the hair back into some dark, dank cave.