I just adore the Victorian Era. Don’t you?
Life was so lovely and peaceful back then. Just look at the paintings. At the time, women wore stunning, colorful dresses and men dressed like real men. The average woman’s waist size was about 16 inches — just shows what you can achieve without stuffing your face full of Big Gulps and McDonald’s French Fries every day.
Back then, nobody was on drugs, kids obeyed their parents and nobody had sex before marriage. People knew what morality was — not like today.
The best part about the Victorian Era, though, was that people realized you had to work really hard in order to make it in society. There were no handouts, no entitlements, no rewards for being irresponsible. People had a choice: work hard and live a life of opulent luxury, or be lazy and destitute.
It was so simple. The poor understood their place, and didn’t ask for free stuff all the time. Except for this greedy little bastard:
But I’m pretty sure he was the only one. They taught him a lesson he never forgot! LOL!
Since I’m so enamored by this era, I am really excited about the changes that are happening in American society (and not a moment too soon)! Getting rid of the social safety net; offering K-12 education to just the right kids so all the rest can learn a trade, making laws to discourage people from being homeless … I’ve even heard they may bring back debtor’s prisons! Wouldn’t that be amazing? We’ll be shot back in time just as surely as if we’d gotten our hands on H.G. Wells’ Time Machine!
No more lazy-ass poor people. No more babies out of wedlock. People won’t go wild with their Master Cards anymore, buying lattes and big-screen TVs. And every Christmas will look just like a greeting card.
I can hardly wait.
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When I started my original “A Little Whine and Cheese” blog, it was 1996 and America was a much different place than it is today. I had just purchased a (whopping!) 1,100 sq.ft. home to ensure our future financial security. Profits at the newspaper were still strong, and we were adding departments. I had a 401-K, and I remember as if it were yesterday the JP Morgan rep showing us a chart that said we would be millionaires by the time we retired. My family was by no means wealthy, but I wasn’t terribly worried about our financial future. I was doing what the experts were telling people to do, so I assumed everything would turn out all right.
In “Cheese,” I wrote about poverty, I wrote about racism, I wrote about women’s issues, I wrote about government policies. Having been soft-hearted all my life, it was natural for me to write about destructive economic systems and disenfranchised people. Then I just got too busy, and let the blog die. I resurrected it one more time, and let it die again. Describe me in one word: Overtasked.
Two things propelled me into re-creating “Cheese” at this precise moment. The first thing was Baltimore. The second thing was that within a very short span of time, I went from being “middle class” to “insolvent” and essentially destitute, depending of the kindness of friends and family to survive — and now experiencing enormous shame as I apply for some of the same government programs I’d written about with such empathy before.
What the hell happened?! I had graduated from high school and college with honors. I had had a successful, award-winning, 30-year journalism career. My financial downfall didn’t occur because I was lazy, irresponsible, uneducated or stupid. It was the result of an unrelenting cascade of events and factors totally beyond my control. Turns out it’s true – we are all much closer to the curb than we imagine.
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I need another blog like I need a hole in the head. I’ve got two others I’ve barely had time for. But changes are happening and from here on out, I’ll have some blogging time. In addition to “Cheese,” I have a social media blog under my own name, and a Secular Humanism blog under a different alias. (The fact I’m using pseudonyms doesn’t mean I’m hiding, nor that I don’t stand by what I say. It’s a professional thing. I’m quite capable of writing objectively, but my aliased blogs are my opinions, and I’d like to decide who gets to know my identity.)
Here’s some things you should know about “A Little Whine and Cheese:”
1) LORDY. I HOPE THAT BY NOW YOU HAVE REALIZED THAT I WRITE IN SATIRE, BLACK HUMOR AND HYPERBOLE. If you’ve just finished one of my posts and are getting ready to send me a NastyGram, please check out the definition of these terms. (See how easy I’ve made it for you? I’ve given you the links right here!) You see, I can’t just assume someone knows something. I once asked a girlfriend if she enjoyed black humor. She answered, “I don’t really know. All I’ve seen is Bill Cosby.”
2) I DON’T “DEBATE” POLITICS OR RELIGION IRL (IN REAL LIFE) ANYMORE. I may well point out a fact or two, but I won’t argue. First, I hate making enemies. Second, I like to back up everything I saw with Actual Facts®. While I’m brilliant, I’m not brilliant enough to memorize every statement and source. And third, while I may disagree with you, I usually am able to relate to the reasons you believe as you do. Verbal wrestling matches do nothing to forward the truth. So I don’t do it. (Unless I am am cornered like a wild animal and have no other escape. Then, watch out.)
That said, I MUST share the story of My Convert. In college, I was a member of Students Against Nuclear Weapons and various other lefty groups. And for a while, I dated a member of The Young Republicans. He was such a great fan of then-President Ronald Reagan that he had actually moved to the US from Oslo, Norway, to study Economics with Reagan’s brilliance in mind.
We didn’t fight. But we did debate. No hair-pulling, nose-twisting, or eyeball-poking was involved. I recall he used to say, “You and I are concerned about the same issues. We just have different opinions about how to solve them.” But by the time we broke up, he was even more certain of his positions than ever.
Fast-forward over 20 years. He happens to come down my LinkedIn feed, so I connect with him. He says he’s happy to hear from me. In fact, he writes this (paraphrased):
I’m so glad we got back in touch after all these years, because I’ve always wanted to tell you something. Over the years, I kept thinking about the things you said, and the arguments you presented. And little by little, I realized that you had been right. Believe it or not, I’m a Progressive now, and donate a significant amount of money to Progressive causes. Thank you!
That’s when I fainted, falling backward off my chair and hitting the back of my head on my cubicle wall. I was in a coma for two weeks. I still can barely believe it to this day. But I’ve not tried my magic again, because it has been almost a decade, and I am STILL waiting for my goddamn toaster.
3.) I’M NOT A REPUBLICAN. I’M NOT A DEMOCRAT. I’M A DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST. (BOO!!) First, the word “Socialist” probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. Marxism, Leninism, Communism, Socialism and Democratic Socialism are very different animals. But if you think that’s confusing, ponder this:
4.) I’M FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE. That squishy, loud “popping” noise I just heard was the sound of your brain exploding. (I know that whenever I hear it, someone’s read my blog for the first time. Just a suggestion – wipe those blobs of gray matter off your computer screen right away. Once they dry, they’re a bitch to scrape off.)
What seems like Cognitive Dissonance is really about the way I define Liberalism and Progressivism. The two terms are often considered synonyms, since there is quite a lot of overlap in their ideology. Sometimes people assume that Progressives self-identify this way because the term “Liberal” has taken on negative connotations. I have different reasons.
(Inside my brain,) it’s like this:
Liberal. lib·er·al /ˈli-b(ə-)rəl/. Adj.
A liberal is someone who wants to change society Because Flowers. Because Rainbows.
And Because Kittens.
Liberals want to dismantle the U.S. Military because the result will be all of the peoples of the world holding hands and singing “Kum-By-Ya.” Won’t that be beautiful?
Liberals want the world to be a like giant Kibbutz, where people live in cooperative communities, growing food together and living off the grid. Everyone’s station in like should be Exactly Equal. And every night, everyone will gather at their community bonfires, sing James Taylor songs and smoke a lot of pot.
On the rare occasions when bartering doesn’t work and some sort of currency is needed, then cowery shells should be used, as they did centuries ago in Africa.
Anyone who commits a crime should not be penalized. Instead, he or she should be taken to the nearest Dairy Queen (which would take cowery shells), so he could talk freely about his pain and be offered love. Because all you need is love. So, so much love.
This magical world would look a lot like this:
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being motivated by empathy and compassion; I am as well; in fact, it’s my FIRST motivation. But life is messy and complex, and we can’t pretend this isn’t the case. So, in contrast, here is what comes to my mind when I hear the word “Progressive:”
Progressive. pro·gres·sive / prəˈɡresiv/. Adj.
A Progressive is someone who sees a great many societal problems that need to be solved, but recognizes that successful responses will be multi-layered, taking a great many factors into consideration. A problem cannot be solved by looking at a particular person at a particular time and making assumptions, no matter how “obvious” these may be. Instead, society as a whole must be considered.
The population posing the “problem” must be understood from the INSIDE. And solutions MUST be economically sustainable.
In seeking solutions, a Progressive will approach with pragmatism rather than pity, will look at any solutions that have been put into place in the past (rather in the US or in other nations) and whether or not they were successful, and study the problem from all sides.
Often, dysfunctional behavior by individuals or groups have roots to a problem that’s not clear from the outset.. A solution thatt is more punitive than preventative will be unsuccessful and will cost society a great deal more.
Interestingly, when I’ve studied solutions that do and don’t work, I have tended to find that the US often invests money now, expecting to “fix” a problem, only to be faced with a much bigger and more expensive problem to solve later. Or invests less money, but with the same costly result. Or enacts measures meant to extinguish a behavior that actually increase it. All the time, Americans’ quality of life goes down while tax dollars fly out the window like pigeons on a mission.
Angry taxpayers tend to place the blame on the people who are suffering in the first place. I believe, based on many examples that HAVE worked historically or elsewhere, that many social ills can be relieved in ways that can actually save taxpayer money in the end.
The United States is NOT “broke,” despite what you’ve heard. Our nation has more money now than ever in history. So we have the dollars. We simply use them in the wrong ways.
5.) I DON’T JUST PULL “FACTS” OUT OF MY ASS. I abhor this practice rather it’s coming from the left or the right.
I won’t lie; I do get a lot of information from Progressive sources like The Nation and Mother Jones. But I also read The Federalist and studies by The Heritage Foundation I love Mama (Stephanie Miller) even more than Mama loves me back, but when I have enough Valium on hand, I listen to Rush. I read foreign press (BBC, Al Jazeera) as well as neutral sources like FactCheck and the Pew Research Center studies. In addition, I read a lot of history, and pay attention to similar challenges unfolding worldwide.
Next I crunch all this together in my mind, and “PING!” …out pops My Opinion. And virtually always, it’s Progressive.
Given the effort I put in to providing Actual Facts®, it should be obvious that my opinions are always the correct ones.
That was a joke.
Have you ever looked for the same information from three different sources? Too often, the sources will be completely at odds. And I don’t believe that for a moment, the media is showing us all of what we need to see. Whether it’s because of sloppy, amateurish reporting, or because information is being manipulated or withheld, we see the tippy-top of an iceberg. The “truth” may not be known for many years, if ever.
So I do the best I can, because the best I can is the best I can do. Go ahead and disagree with me, but know that at least, my opinions are well-researched, and not delivered into my ear by invisible minions.
6.) FINALLY: HERE IS WHY ALL OF THIS MATTERS TO ME: Sadly, my Victorian opening isn’t fictional. Most of it is paraphrased from comments I’ve read or heard on the radio and TV, often by political leaders including active members of our government. (I will never forget hearing one Congressman praising the tiny fingers of first- and second graders who, “if they weren’t going to go to college anyway,” would be really valuable in manufacturing. No, he wasn’t kidding.)
It represents an actual movement – albeit, an extreme one – that seems to be sweeping the nation. Only I don’t think the results will end at The Victorian Era. I fear the Time Machine will shoot us back to Medieval Times.
Every civilization that has ever existed on our planet, no matter how successful it once was, has eventually failed, and almost always the failures have had to do with extreme distance between the wealthy and the impoverished and the civil unrest that occurs, or the vulnerability that such a society has to being taken over by other powers. Eventually, every oppressed population will hit a tipping point, and chaos or even civil war will occur. I fail to understand why the United States should be immune from this. It’s simply a long-established historical pattern. It’s what happens.
I happen to be one of those crazy doomsayers that fully expects a complete societal economic collapse that will make the Depression look like Disneyland – if things don’t change, and soon. I don’t know how much time we have left, but on our current trajectory, I believe it’s inevitable. And I believe a lot of decisions being made now (on both sides) will do nothing but make the crash even more devastating.
If I can change a mind, or two, at least, I will have accomplished something before my electricity goes off.
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Enough of the doom and gloom. Let’s enjoy some Whine and Cheese, shall we? If you brought cocktail weenies, heat them up. I love cocktail weenies!