FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Year of Living Dangerously

Already the week is shaping up as a time when even slow learners will finally begin to understand reality. This is the week when things get out of control—a deadly precursor of the rest of the year. Not just overseas, where Middle Eastern governments appear to be changing their tactics and their responses hourly, but also back here in the United States where our own mini-revolution will be firmly entrenched in our future debates about the country’s priorities, especially the national debt.

In the Middle East and North Africa, first in Tunisia and in Egypt and now major upheavals and barbarities in Libya and Bahrain. The first two waves. Algeria, Syria, Jordan, Morocco, and Yemen are lined up behind. Protesters are not going to give up until their governments are either ousted or major changes are made. But those five countries are only the third wave before the next arrives: Iran, Kuwait, possibly even Saudi Arabia, as the ground literally shifts under the governments in control. And the worst possibility for the Middle East? Sunnis and Shiites fighting it out for control of their religion. Given the indications of the past weeks, there are other areas that will be included in the unrest: Ivory Coast, Djibouti, and China, the last already quaking and incarcerating dissidents in huge numbers. Should Cuba, Nigeria, Pakistan, and North Korea be added to the list? Even Zimbabwe?

Here at home, two big changes loom this week. First, with Congress in recess, Tea Party novices will get increasingly hyped up by their base. When they return to Washington, their inflexibility in demanding what they want will be even more myopic. They’re right that the deficit must be addressed; they’re simply wrong about the way they want to tackle it. The poor and the unemployed cannot continue to bear the burden of the tax cuts, but how do you convince Republicans to show any concern for those at the bottom and that an increase in taxes is part of the calculus? The deficit fight will be ugly and brutal with no winners, and many losers.

Worse, by the end of this year, inflation will impact on everyone, but the government will continue to mask it since it will mostly be with food and energy, not included in the measure of core inflation. (Hula hoops and joy buzzers will remain at their current prices, so the argument will be that inflation is non-existent.) Current ten-year treasury rates are 3.39 percent. That may not even budge because at this ridiculously low rate, interest payments are already $207 billion dollars a year. Imagine the rate moving up significantly. Some of us are old enough to remember when the ten-year rate hit 15 percent in 1981, but we can’t even get to half of that without being in deep trouble.

Simultaneously here at home, as states struggle to balance their budgets—again, with draconian cuts and attempts to eliminate collective bargaining—the protests will continue on our doorsteps. It’s no surprise that we discovered last week that it was the Koch brothers—good old Charles and David, always thinking about themselves—who helped fund Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s successful election. Big Money, brought to you by the Supreme Court. My gut tells me that things will get ugly here, too, until all the behind-the-scene influences are revealed.

Imagine being President Obama during these times. For decades, the United States has supported every vile dictator in the world and now payback has begun. Pity poor Hillary Clinton who has to deal with this. As the Onion wrote two years ago: black man rewarded with the worst job in the world. Obama’s got only a brief time to begin siding with the protesters—both overseas and in the United States. Then there are the Limbaughs and the McConnells out there who publicly pray that the President will fail. That’s genuine patriotism—hoping that your elected leaders will fail—or worse.

Tighten your seat belts. This is going to be a roller-coaster ride for everyone, particularly for those of us who believe the United States as we’ve known it—not in recent years, when greed and self-interest have led the fray, but the America of hope, expectation and humanity and Obama’s vision—is worth restoring.

It’s an entirely new world out there, driven by new media, provoking rapid change. By the end of 2011, we’re all going to be living in a different world.

CHARLES R. LARSON is Professor of Literature at American University in Washington, D.C.

More articles by:

Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C. Email = clarson@american.edu. Twitter @LarsonChuck.

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail