When I heard about Phil Gramm's comments this morning I had the same reaction that I'm sure many other Americans caught in the middle between need and greed did. I wanted to invite him out behind the woodshed for a jolting trip back to reality. However Instead I'll be more sensible and let the written word be his passport back to reality.
What'd he say?
He made two really stupid statements:
"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession,"
"We have sort of become a nation of whiners,"
Well, I am not a hamster and this has NOT become a "nation of whiners". What we are is a nation of people caught between the forces of greed and the legion of the indifferent.
The "forces of greed" consists mostly of oil companies, oil producing nations, many (if not most) of our elected officials, and most large corporations that want nothing more than a bigger bottom line and regardless of their PR efforts, couldn't give a half a flip how many people have to be hurt, destroyed, or flat out killed to get it.
The "Legion of the indifferent" is made up of those individuals, corporate and government entities that possess the ability to do some amount of useful good that would actually make a noticeable difference but simply refuse to do so. Many of the members are also members of the "forces of greed".
The "little guy", upon whose back all of this is built, is the pawn or tool to be used and discarded when it is no longer useful. Somebody that is the top economic adviser to John McCain ought to know better than to make statements like he did. No wonder McCain wasted no time in distancing himself from Gramm's statements! He should have fired Gramm because of what he said.
It's not whining for Americans to be upset and angry because mortgage companies and major lenders were allowed to continue bad, even illegal business practices that ended up costing thousands of people their life savings and even their homes. Never mind that a lot of the homes that were lost were nearly fully paid for.
It's not whining when Americans cry foul because gasoline prices skyrocket to levels where they have no reason to be when the oil companies continue to post all time record profits.
It's not whining when people accuse oil companies of profiteering and price gouging when they find out that ExxonMobil earned 40 Billion dollars in profits in '07 and 31.8 Billion of it is used, not for research and development of new oil reserves, increasing refinery capacity or developing alternative energy but to buy back their own stock to keep it's price going higher.
It's not whining when people are upset about the fact that food grains are now being used to make ethanol, which is then added to fuel in the name of cleaner air but actually doesn't accomplish anything but make that fuel more expensive and cause vehicles to require more of that excessively expensive fuel to travel the same distance because it's being burned in engines that were never designed to use it.
It's not whining when people are infuriated and frustrated at the supermarket because the increasing cost of fuel because of greed and the increasing cost of corn and other food grains because of stupidity is causing the prices of absolutely everything to go up at unheard of rates and people have more trouble than ever before just trying to feed their families.
It's not whining when we hear more stories than ever before about how the poor and elderly must often choose between paying for medications and medical care that they desperately need and basic essentials like food, lodging and basic utilities.
I could probably go on all night with this list but this is enough to get the idea across. These things are not "whining". They're the sounds of a people that is frustrated and angry. A people that is getting angrier by the day every time a price goes up because in the final analysis, some greedy SOB just has to squeeze out some more. Never mind that most of 'em couldn't spend what they have in fifty lifetimes, they just gotta have more.
As for that "mental recession" comment. The only "mental recession" that exists is between the ears of somebody clueless enough to actually say it at all, never mind in front of reporters or while working for a presidential campaign.
This recession is quite real for the very reasons stated above and a lot more besides. In fact, it's well on the way past recession and on the road to full out depression and the ONLY way I know of to stop it is to reverse the conditions mentioned above.
As for Mr. Gramm, I think he ought to trade lives with one of the millions of people trapped in these conditions for about six months and then reconsider his statements.
By the way, I'd like to hear from readers. Leave a comment on this post with additions to the "It's not whining" list. Just to make sure that there's no confusion that we Americans are not whining, we're boiling mad.