Brats

     Our unfolding national catastrophes – economic, political, social, financial, and the general death of decency in the United States – mesh well with two smaller stories to give us a self-portrait of our nation today.
     The smaller stories are the death of J.D. Salinger and the public crucifixion of Tiger Woods.
     Those stories are of far less moment than the disasters crashing about our heads. But they add a few illuminating highlights to the pathetic tragedy we have made of ourselves.
     As a nation – as a political, economic and social system – the United States today is a pack of liars. We are a nation of spoiled brats.
     We have a trillion-dollar budget deficit because we let the rich kids steal even more than a trillion dollars.
     We saw them do it in broad daylight.
     And after we caught them at it, we let them steal more, by the greasy bucketful.
     No one has gone to jail for doing it.
     We even passed special legislation to throw more money at the rich kids.
     Due in great part to that multitrillion-dollar theft, our 50 state governments this year need to spend $130 billion that they don’t have – to give us the services we want, the services that we think we deserve.
     And what do we hear from one end of the nation to the other?
     Don’t tax us!
     We pay too much in taxes!
     We all want to play with our toys, but we don’t want Uncle Sam to pay for them, and we’ll be damned if we’ll pay for them ourselves.
     The only real alternative to paying for our toys – the toys we already have, in the form of clean water, electricity, air-conditioning, airports and highways, a semi-functional court system, and entertainment around the clock – is to inflate the dollar so badly that we’ll be able to pay off our creditors with the worthless currency we’ll earn at our lousy service jobs.
     Americans today have access to more free entertainment, every hour of every day, than any previous generation in the history of humanity had during their entire lifetime. But we won’t pay for our toys, we won’t take the money from the rich kids, and we won’t let our Uncle pay for them. We will complete the destruction of our national economy rather than face up to what we have done, and pay for the stuff we already have.
     We are doing this with open eyes.
     We already have destroyed, in great part, what it took 400 years to build.
     We did it in a few years.
     We did it because we are a nation of selfish, greedy liars and cowards.
     Where do J.D. Salinger and Tiger Woods come in?
     Salinger hid out from fame his entire life, for which those who bothered to think about him at all thought him unfair.
     He owed us more books, we thought; and if he did not owe us more books, he owed us himself.
     But Salinger didn’t owe us either of those things. He told us to go away. Then he went away. And we said he was unfair.
     Then along came Tiger Woods, at whom we threw hundreds of millions of dollars, because he plays golf really well – better than anyone else.
     We threw money at him for 10 years – enormous sums of money. We watched him on TV, and we gave him our adulation, and then we found out – oh, my goodness, Tiger did a bad thing.
     Then what did we demand from him?
     Everything.
     We thought Salinger didn’t have the right to refuse the stuff we threw at him, and we think Tiger didn’t have the right to accept it.
     We demanded that Tiger apologize for accepting what we threw at him – for the very people who threw themselves at him.
     And we demanded to know everything.
     Tiger wouldn’t tell us, so we sent photographers to chase him, and to chase his kids, who aren’t even in kindergarten yet.
     We chased his wife too. We took pictures.
     Because we want to know everything – everything about other people.
     I am speaking of us as a nation.
     We think we have the right to know how other people have sex.
     We think we had the right to make J.D. Salinger write for us.
     But we ourselves want to be left alone.
     We don’t want to pay for our toys.
     We don’t want our Uncle to have to pay for them either.
     We don’t want the rich kids to have to pay for their toys.
     And we don’t want the government to tax us to pay for the toys it already bought for us.
     We are a nation of liars – a nation of spoiled brats.

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