View from US: Burst the political bubble, oh really!
The average American is naïve. His waking hours are consumed by work, his weekends by watching ball games, soap operas on TV and eating pizza. He’s not savvy about how much of his tax money gets frittered away in far-off places by his government under the pretext of keeping him ‘safe.’
He is continually reminded to thank his president, Congress and the armed forces for keeping ‘terrorists’ away. He has been brainwashed to believe that the billions spent in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq are to ensure that he, his kids, grandkids and great grandkids never have to suffer another 9/11. None dare ask the American military to give details of how it spends their tax dollars.
Pakistan has earned the dubious distinction of being rated the ‘most dangerous in the world.’ In State Department lingo this means ‘a hardship post with security issues, a war zone’ if you please. And what pray is a ‘hardship post?’ According to Wikipedia: it’s is an overseas post where living conditions are difficult due to climate, crime, health care and pollution.
“Employees assigned to such posts receive a hardship differential of between 10 and 35 per cent of their salary.” Wait there’s more: “A hardship post may also be a designated danger post with employees eligible for additional danger pay.”
Yippee! No wonder the Americans — civilian, armed and on contract – strut about the towns of Pakistan like demi-gods with the locals, from the president down to a deputy secretary or his army equivalent (2nd lieutenant), standing to attention. The newly-constructed-garrison in Karachi behind whose fortified walls the US consul general and his team operate and the swelling US embassy in Islamabad in the vaunted Diplomatic Enclave must cost billions to the American tax payer who has not the foggiest idea why the quality of life in the US slides steadily downhill. He does not know how much money ‘hardship postings’ swallow up. Well let’s see – there’s a first class cafeteria with hamburgers and chocolate chip cookies flown in from the US; there’s the lovely swimming pool and finally there’s the American club, only reserved for sahibs with unwritten rules keeping locals and desi-Americans out. The wives and children can choose any place other than Pakistan to live with all expenses paid by Uncle Sam. The hubby gets to visit family every three months again at US government cost. Not bad, eh? But the taxpayer back home doesn’t know all this. Meanwhile here in America, let’s see how the most powerful and momentarily the richest country in the world fares financially. Well it’s up to its knees in debt ($14.3 trillion and mounting); 14 million are jobless with six million being out of a job for six months, seven million have had their work hours slashed into half because their employers can’t afford to give them full time salaries and health insurance benefits and, as of April 30, US has paid back $244 billion on interest accrued to its debtors, mainly China.
But these chilling figures don’t really give President Obama and his administration, or the heavy-metal-wearing decorated military men at the Pentagon, any sleepless nights. They merrily continue spending $3 billion a week fighting the two wars in our backyard. “To be sure, things could be worse — and there’s a strong chance that they will, indeed, get worse,” says the economist Nobel laureate Paul Krugman Back to Pakistan. With television as our staple source of information, what gets beamed back into our living rooms are shouting matches between the government toadies and wannabe government toadies plus the miseries of the populace squished in between. We tolerate these guys. Just as Americans tolerate their leaders many of whom turn out to be deviant or shameless exhibitionists. And guess what? Unlike the Pakistani leadership, the American power horses are besotted with the social media such as the Facebook and Twitter and put out their weird messages to shock their readers. The latest explosion coming out of the Capitol Hill is of Congressman Weiner.
“Rep. Anthony Weiner’s stunning wife had a front-row seat to the mother of all sex scandals — she served in the Clinton White House during Monicagate. And now, 34-year-old Huma Abedin has to deal with her hubby’s own public shame, as he tries to explain his connection to a lewd Twitter picture,” is what a New York tabloid is saying. The images of the raunchy photos are being flashed around by the media giving everyone a lot to laugh at.
This is not the first time that congressmen have posted obscene photos on the social media network. But apart from the success story that America is today because it has invented the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a host of other interactive media, there has been no real innovation since the last 20 years in this country. During Clinton’s time, the prosperity index of the US was high thanks to the Internet startups bubble. During Bush’s era there was the housing bubble. In Obama’s time there is the social media bubble.
These bubbles when they burst leave Americans reeling. Google-bust can be on its way as alleged by White House officials claiming that their personal Gmail accounts have been hacked! The hacker? China, according to the US media! Another WikiLeaks in the pipeline?
The economic crisis currently facing America, many say, is because of the lobbyists in Washington who will not allow President Obama to take decisions in public interest. Most legislation is geared towards making the rich in America richer.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Our civil and military elites will never like to be deprived of their perks, let the poor learn to deal with poverty! To hell and back with the budget!
The political bubble will not burst. The rich and the powerful will not allow it to burst while it’s okay for all other bubbles to blow up. But then life itself is a bubble, so when the current lot dies, a new generation of parasites and bloodsuckers will arise to take over.
Postscript: one woman who has burst the male-dominated bubble at the New York Times is Jill Abramson. She takes over as the editor on September 6 as the first woman to be editor of the paper in its 160-year history.