When I was a kid, I remember looking forward to staying up to watch the
ball drop on Times Square and fireworks from where ever the three
channels available to us would broadcast them from. Long before
heartless corporate prick Dick Clark parlayed New Year's Eve into a
second career, we'd inevitably hear Guy Lombado conducting "Auld Lang
Syne" in his shiny tuxedo. Part of the excitement in staying up to watch
the New Year's festivities as a kid was the sense of hope, not nearly
unjustified, that the new year would be better than the last. Indeed,
I'm old enough to remember the worst thing about New Year's was my
father worrying whether he'll keep writing the old year on his checks.
Then again, that was another time and, it seems, another country ago.
New Year's and the bloated festivities surrounding it have become a
money-making juggernaut like the equally bloated Super Bowl halftime
show. I still remember Super Bowl 1 in 1966 and the halftime show
consisting of Al Hirt playing his trumpet on a little wooden box. Most
of the seats were empty as the Packers beat the Chiefs in a 35-10
blowout. The budget was so tight Pat Summerall and his co-announcer from
NBC had to share a microphone.
Nowadays, everything is
monetized, everything that smells of exploitability is corporatized and
we see corporately-generated celebrities and their likenesses bloated to
cartoonish proportions on Jumbotrons and monitors on Times Square. And
this is symptomatic of just how much corporations have come to own our
sporting events, our government and our very country.
why I don't even get into the spirit of New Year's any more. The
corporate-coddling Obama will still be president tomorrow, the House GOP
will still be in power and getting its way almost every time, the Koch
Brothers will still be alive and pulling the strings from the shadowy
catwalks and nothing will have changed.
Granted, some good
things happened in 2013. In the fall of 2010, only five states had gay
marriage. By the end of this year, 18 will have it, with Utah and New
Mexico being the newest to ratify marriage equality. Obama Care,
diluted, watered down and corporate-friendly though it is, is still the
law of the land despite nearly four dozen Republican attempts to defund,
delay or repeal it.
But I can't think of much else that
happened either personally or nationally that's worked to anyone's
benefit. The cruel, ignorant and stupid still rake in the money while
those who want to work artificially lower the unemployment numbers by
simply getting too discouraged to look for work. It seems once you've
lost your job, and this goes especially if you remain unemployed for
more than a few months, it's a virtual death sentence and you're
unofficially deemed unemployable. And those who are still in the swim
now have to consent to credit background checks despite being out of
work for an extended period of time crushing whatever positive credit
rating you've had.
By tomorrow, we'll still be a nation of
such skewed priorities we spend nearly ten times as much on defense as
we do on education and think that's OK, despite the fact we have less
and less to actually defend. Our Bill of Rights has been stripped from
us or made so conditional it's tantamount to not having any rights. We
can't feed the hungry, house the homeless, keep the environment clean,
educate our children or repair our infrastructure. Remind me again why
we spend more on defense than the next 20 nations combined (especially
since 19 of them are allies)?
By tomorrow, the police will
still be the most heavily militarized on earth, ready to murder American
citizens for little or no reason with near total impunity and will
always more vociferously guard corporate interests over yours any day.
Despite making up just 20% of the world's population, the United States
will still lead the world in the number of prisoners per nation. This is
largely because when states began handing out contracts to private
prisons, they had minimum occupancy clauses written into these
contracts, which led to harsher sentencing and minimum sentencing to
people largely due to our utterly failed War on Drugs.
midnight, we'll still be in Afghanistan with no end in sight and
liberals who railed against Bush's 2007 surge in Iraq are strangely OK
with Obama ramping up our inexplicable and fruitless involvement in
Afghanistan's affairs right after getting nominated for the Nobel Peace
Prize, a war now employing more war profiteers than military troops.
Sure, the Dow is up to over 16,000, more than double over what it was
on Inauguration Day 2009 but how exactly does that translate to good
fortune to Main Street? Nearly 90% of the new wealth generated in the
last five years was gobbled up by the 1% while the richest corporations
still offshore jobs overseas, dodge taxes and hire low-paid temps while
still crying about our Socialist president and paying the highest
corporate income tax rate on earth.
And people are actually seriously listening to these corporate cunts' caterwauling.
By the time the ball drops on Times Square, we'll still be
criminalizing civil disobedience that used to be guaranteed to us in the
1st Amendment, civil disobedience that was seen in the Occupy movement
just a few blocks away from Times Square. Meanwhile, the nation's
biggest criminals still have city police departments do their bidding
for them even as they rob the Treasury of $64 billion worth of corporate
subsidies every year and sit on a sea of cash totaling some $2 trillion
(much of it coming from US taxpayers) as people are getting kicked off
food stamps and out of their homes.
By tomorrow, racist
morons like Phil Robertson, Sarah Palin and Pat Buchanan can still look
forward to getting even richer than they already are through book deals,
TV shows and appearances and however else they can vacuum up money they
plainly don't need simply because we allow their racism, stupidity and
ignorance to look like legitimate or at worst, controversial,
By tomorrow morning, we will have gotten even closer to the world of Idiocracy
instead of merely representing its prequel. Newtown will be a more
distant memory, 10,000 more children and adults will needlessly die from
firearms while firearms CEOs lick their chops and rub their hands over
the next major school shooting that will inevitably result in more gun
and ammo sales by people who'd been quivering for five years now at the
thought of Obama taking away all their guns.
This country is
utterly doomed barring some massive demonstration that will make the
Kiev uprising last month look like a half-hearted Tea Bagger rally in
Des Moines. But we're the most easily anesthetized nationality on earth
and as long as we have our shiny Apple toys and $160 Air Jordans made by
Third World slaves and Super Bowls every February with its bloated
halftime shows featuring old hasbeens in no danger of showing their
nipples, that national uprising will never happen. We take no advice and
no warning from the lessons left to us by the twilight of the Roman
I'll be drinking tonight just as I had when I was a
young man. But this time I'll be drinking not only to forget the mostly
hideous 2013 but to push from my mind the realization that 2014 will be
worse in many, many ways.