Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On the clock

By Carl

Each morning, I sit and read my e-mail in the bathroom.

This morning, at precisely six, ThumbPer meowed. He meowed the meow of a cat who was patiently waiting his turn. It was time to go meditate with a cup of coffee and a cat.

At precisely six. I wondered how he knew, what biological mechanism made his clock tick at that exact moment? Can he read a clock? Does he own a watch?

Then I began to think about the world. We're all run on clocks and calendars. Most people in this country, and many more in the world outside it, have to live by a clock. We log into work, we run to catch a train, our TV shows are on at a specific time.

And then I thought about my job, and something odd occured to me: the people who own the company, they aren't really beholden to clocks. Things get done when they want them to get done, on their schedule. Yes, to a degree, where necessary they have to genuflect to time.

But not as often as you might think.

All this leads me to some thoughts about
Barack Obama's address last night:
[W]e have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.

Well, that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

He's right, you know, and he didn't single out anybody, didn't exempt you or me, the rich or the poor, the bankers or the brokers (well, maybe the bankers a little), or Democrats or Republicans.

We've all lived as though time was a renewable resource. But it's not. Time is the avenger. Time is what happens when you've lived one way, always looking in the other direction. Time is the wall you run into.

The most curious struggle within life is to balance two things: now and then.

We should all plan for the future and make contingencies for what happens then.

We should all "live in the now," as we say in acting classes.

Funny thing is, we've failed miserably at both.

We've had a thirty year headstart on renewable energy, a fairly simple, logical, and healthier alternative to burning mushed dinosaur soup. We import more of that goo than ever before.

We've had twenty years of warnings with respect to the rising costs of healthcare, and the declining wages to pay for them. Yet here we are, watching an American go bankrupt every thirty seconds because he or she can't afford to pay for the God-given gift of a healthy life.

We've had decades of warnings with respect to global warming and the twin disaster of sudden ice ages (and conservatives? These are not conflicting ideas. The earth can warm up as a whole while we plunge into an ice age in the northern and southern temperate zones), yet our planet is getting hotter and the
warmest ten years on record have been the past ten.

And we've sat on our asses and did nothing, except mock Al Gore, mock Jimmy Carter and mock Hillary Clinton.

(Hm. Those are all Democrats! But I digress...)

The Obama stimulus package/budget announcement tries to reconcile these two aspects of time. The stimulus package is for the now. The budget is for the then.

It is a bold and grand vision, to be sure, and the real test comes in a year or two, when the economy has (we hope) recovered and the deficit inches down at first. Can Congress be mature enough to sit on its hands and continue to tinker with the deficit or will the special interests begin to ratchet up the rhetoric, which actually began with Bobby Jindal's amateurish and childish
(Fox's words, not mine!)response to Obama's speech last night?

Time waits for no one, and it is on this basis that we, the people, must take control of our country again. It is we who must keep our Congresscritters responsible and it is we who must keep Barack Obama responsible (admittedly, I sense this will be the easier task). And it is we who must keep our local politicians responsible for the funds they receive from the Feds and from our tax dollars.

We have to get off our asses and own our time on this planet. Own the now. Own the then.

If the farm subsidy to Big Agra is about to be snuck through a late night session by the critters from the cornfields, then it's up to us to rally up the rest of the nation to put a stop to it.

If the Defense Department is insistent on buying yet another legacy weapon for a war they fought twenty years ago, it's up to us to call them on the carpet.

It's our future, not our elected officials, who, like my bosses, have forgotten what a clock really is.

A marker in the river of our lives that delineates the now from the then. We live on the clock. We need to act like it.

(crossposted to
Simply Left Behind)

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