Never run with the crowd. They're probably headed over a cliff.

Protection At Any Cost

We forget things. We forget because we are people, and people are lemmings. For a moment, recall the basis for my analysis – the myth of the lemming. Lemmings DO NOT rush into the sea and commit mass suicide. Lemmings can, however, be frightened, especially by those who seek to benefit from their panicky mob behavior, whether they be unscrupulous film makers or former chairmen of major financial institutions. That is the lemming, those who fall prey to the machinations of others and join the crowd in running whatever direction without first checking where that direction leads. Lemmings, little, furry morons.


One of the things I seek to do on Not-A-Lemming is state the obvious. I do it because nobody else seems to want to. I do it because it is so often the obvious that is overlooked. Sort of like asking the furry, little hoard, "Why is everybody running this way when there's a cliff over there?" And that is the case today.


Seven hundred and fifty billion dollars. Also written $750,000,000,000. At my engineer’s salary I’d have to work for eight million years to make that much money. Actually 8.3 million years. (Or 8.3 million engineers could work for a year.) I’m going to keep harping on the $750,000,000,000 and writing it as $750,000,000,000, and not $750billion, or even 750 Gigabucks, because we should never forget that fourteen percent of our GNP was handed over to banks by a republican president backed by a democrat congress. Both parties are equally culpable in selling the middle class.


So why did they do it? No oversight. No accountability. That is enough money to give every person in New York City, all 8.7 million of them, my yearly salary, earned with 17 years of experience and a Masters Degree in stuff that’s just frankly, damn hard. Why? As always, history holds the answer.


I work hard for the living I bring home – which doesn’t go far on a family of five. Eighty hours a week, forty-nine weeks a year. I get three weeks of vacation but no sick leave. My 401K is a joke; it stank before the stock market tanked. I’ve got a few thousand dollars in the bank. And I do mean, a few. Realistically I’m looking at a second mortgage to get my kids through college and retirement isn’t really an option. I don’t really like my job. I tried for a Ph.D., didn’t have the cash to finish it, and wound up doing this. In a nutshell, my version of the American dream is kind of disappointing. If it weren’t for my utterly fantastic wife and exemplary kids it would completely suck. After my nine-hour day I write just about every evening working on novels I hope to someday publish, but it’s a long shot and I know it. I can’t even get anyone in New York to reply to my query letters. But my story isn’t unique. I’m a law-abiding, tax-paying, hard-working American. The backbone of our nation. I am Atlas. Something to be proud of. I’m not complaining. I’m connecting. With you. Because your American dream is pretty sweaty, too.


Now imagine a different life. Basically enough money to not worry about money. What you would do with it is your business. A lot of people buy cars, boats, fancy homes, etc. And it can be a trap. I’ve seen more than a few sucked in and ground up. Success can definitely be a trap. But it doesn’t have to be. Just imagine that life where you don’t wake up in the middle of the night worrying about how you’re going to put your kids through college. Or how you’re going to fix the roof you know is leaking in that downpour. A life where you’re not anxious about retiring someday, before you’re too old to use it. A life where you can live in the way of your choosing whether it be working a job you love, doing art, contributing to society. Or just sitting around wasting time at a beach on Manihi. (Look it up on Google Earth.) To each his own.


This isn’t reality for most of us. But it is for some. People who can, do. And history has shown that those who live this privileged life immediately begin to feel it is their right, and will do anything to protect it. Anything. Lie, kill, steal, even commit genocide if necessary. No affluent culture has escaped this doom; an entitlement class, just as dependent as the welfare poor, who will go to any length to not worry, to not work, to live their life of ease. Am I stating the obvious? That’s what I do. That’s all I do. Those of means will do anything to protect their privileged life. Never forget that.


$750,000,000,000. Why? How did our leadership come to the conclusion that it should be simply handed over without any strings attached? Maybe we should look at who these leaders are. Senators and representatives have a pretty sweet deal. Reps make $145,000 a year, senators make $165,200 a year. With expenses. And a staff. And an office. And influence for life. That adds up to far more than $145,000 a year. And they don’t really have to work. They don’t even have to show up. And many of them started out wealthy. And they get elected with money. Money elects people. Not votes, not speeches, not even good looks or great legs. Just ask Mr. Obama who raised more than ever before. As the global financial system teetered on the brink – or so the lemmings thought – they sensed that their gravy train was in jeopardy. The wealthy are heavily invested. They lose enough money and they might not be able to take a European vacation next year, much less contribute to the party of their choice. The answer, take 14% of the US Gross National Product and use it to shore up their financial base. Works every time.


And don’t forget, one reason the stock market has tanked is because investors, aka, those with money, are pulling it out. The middle class has shrugged and left it in. They have no choice. They know their only chance is for the market to go back up. And it will. But the wealthy, who can pull their money, have, and it’s driving the market down, down, down. And then they went to congress with their hands out. And congress made sure they didn’t go away empty handed. Congress was in essence, giving the money to themselves.


So I guess understanding why congress would just hand over 8.3 million years of my salary is pretty simple. They were protecting their privileged life. And they didn’t even have to kill anyone to do it. I guess we should thank them.

NEXT: I'm Not One Of Those

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