I’ve long been intrigued by the sentence, from Paul’s letter to the Romans, “The wages of sin is death.” The main source of intrigue demonstrates, again, what a nerd I am, for I wonder why the sentence wasn’t translated, “The wages of sin are death.” Another source of interest is the word “wages,” a nice surprise, different from “price” or “cost” and emphasizing the arguable fact that we earned it, brothers and sisters: we all have it coming, as Clint Eastwood’s character suggests in “The Unforgiven.”
Speaking of the unforgiven (ah, the creaking of a clumsy transition), politicians shouldn’t be forgiven for not behaving in a statesman-like fashion in these times. The wages of the pseudocracy, in which seemingly all political communication and action spring from extremely narrow, vile, self-serving motives, is dysfunction. Consider the debt-ceiling crisis, which has been MADE a crisis by the pseudocracy. As Senator Jim Demented said, “We will break him” (of Obama)–and when a white Southern senator says that of an African American president, listeners may be forgiven (pax Clint) for wondering about the extent to which the country has evolved.
Republicans want Obama gone. Fine. Politics is rough. But it also happens to be the way the country gets things done. That is, politicians actually do have a job besides lying. No, really. There’s a time to go after the opponent (the Book of Ecclesiastes), and a time to do what’s better, if not best, for the country. The health-care crisis remains because the only compromise that could eke by Congress is a mess. Few politicians will talk soberly about how long the American Empire can be sustained, and by Empire I mean all the bases (and therefore treasure) scattered around the world. You know the stats about “defense”: how we spend more than the rest of the world, combined, on it. Not sustainable. Few if any in Congress discuss the high rate of imprisonment in the U.S., especially among African Americans but also among the working class. Few if any will discuss the widening gap between rich and poor or the demonstrable folly (or knavery) of “trickle-down” economics, and we’ve discussed here before how, even at its imagined best, trickling isn’t a good economic model. And it is perhaps indicative of the pseudocracy that that phrase was ever allowed to slide by. To quote my students, “WTF?” Not in so many letters, all journalists, not to mention citizens, should have asked that, continually, of Reagan and his boys. And now of Boehner and his boys and girls, who continue to sell the Trickler to willing buyers (order now and get the Slice-o-matic free).
No, of course, the Dems aren’t immune from pseudocratic nonsense. Most of them are mussels and clams. Mr. Obama negotiates in perplexing ways, and Senator Sanders is correct in asking what, exactly, Obama stands for since he seems to stand for (tolerate) any GOPer ridiculousness.
The wages of the pseudocracy is dysfunction, now not just chronic but acute in the USA. When Michelle Bachmann is a serious presidential candidate, then the Party from which she comes must be deemed foul and ghoulish. When Harry Reid is the leader of the Senate, the Party he represents must be deemed mollusks. When Mr. Sanders, alleged socialist, is as mainstream as most Dems used to be, then one suspects the nation’s politics have lurched. Spasmed. Live by the wedge-issues, die by the wedge-issues. Ignore revenue when discussing the budget? What working-class American family could get by with that crap? Say things like “the American people won’t tolerate taxing job-creators” (Boehner), and you are pseudocratically stewed, a slobbering drunk at a country-club bar.
But I guess we have it coming to us.