We are the frogs…

It’s often said that if you drop a frog into boiling water, he’ll jump right out. If you, instead, raise the water temperature slowly, he’ll never notice, stay in and be cooked. We are the frogs.

Writers speculate about why the Germans, prior to the Second World War, did not stop the Nazis. Simple. They were frogs. From the 1933 electoral win for Hitler to the beginning of hostilities in 1939, it was a slow boil. The early victories in the war from ’39 to’43 simply added spices. If you were one of the groups benefitting from the policies, why would you complain? And if you were one of those adversely affected, who was listening? The Germans had suffered a terrible defeat in World War I, a humiliating and bankrupting treaty in Versailles and someone was going to make them great again.

Sound familiar?

The declared wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, the undeclared war against the middle class and, let’s face it, white America, and the crushing blow of the 2008 financial crisis all left America looking to be called great again. The rich and the politicians continually use the rhetoric of the “free market” to convince, coerce or confuse the people into inaction.

American and European citizens have stood by while our ‘safe’ jobs – the ones that provided good wages and a dependable retirement, were cannibalized and sent to foreign lands. If you weren’t directly affected – i.e. lost your job – what you saw was cheap products. How could outsourcing be a bad thing if you could buy a new shirt at Old Navy for six bucks? The new 50 inch HDTV was less than $500. As long as you still had your job, life was great.

The water temperature rose.

Steel and manufacturing jobs left, but if it wasn’t yours, all you noticed was your new dryer was actually cheaper. Your Nike Air Jordan shoes were cheaper. Where jobs couldn’t be sent out of the country, corporations did one of three things: they cut the job and brought in contract workers. Or they made full-time into part-time workers. If you work 29 hours a week or less, no benefits, cheaper labor. In some cases,  they made you train your own replacement. Someone on a H1B or other visa. Even government jobs have been outsourced. Some cities no longer have city employees. The Army and Marines fight alongside private contractors.

Truth is, the middle class, in the form of well-paid, skilled but not college educated workers, has only existed since the World Wars. Before the early 1900’s, the middle class was a combination of small business owners and skilled workers, not the group of factory, service and governmental folks of the past three generations. Keep in mind the factory wasn’t even an entity until Ford and it didn’t pay good wages or offer a retirement until the end of WWII. Nevertheless, it’s gone. The group everyone could join if they were willing to work hard and trade the dream of riches for the reality of security, has been gutted.

Little bubbles form on the bottom of the pan while fleeting tendrils of steam drift by, unnoticed.

The rich exploit every method of creating wealth for themselves possible. Banking, at least lending, was becoming difficult with interest rates so low. There are the well-played games of stock, bond and commodity price manipulation. Those were becoming more challenging with the elimination of high paying jobs that require little post high school training, many couldn’t afford the basics. The unplanned but incredibly profitable and popular housing scam crashed the world economy. A decade later, most are still digging out while the rich try to restart the gravy train.

The water becomes increasingly hot, but people do not revolt. They rarely protest. They seldom march. Why?

Many lost their way of life – in which case they are involved in the struggle for shelter, food and other basics. Perhaps they joined the underground economy and deal drugs or commit crimes, or simply work under the table. In any event, they either don’t have time or the inclination to protest. Drug dealers, gang members and unlicensed contractors don’t carry signs or write their representatives.

Or they are still ‘in the game’. Some believe there’s still the slimmest chance to jump the line and become one of the privileged. Capitalism has that seductive side. Like the Germans, if you benefitted from the changes (or had avoided them), you didn’t complain. If you had been crushed by them, you weren’t heard.

When the water finally boiled in 1945, it took all the Germans. All the frogs boiled.

America and the West is not Germany in 1945, however. Times are different. Borders mean more if you’re not wealthy and nothing if you are. If the water becomes too hot and you have the means, you take your yachts and jets to where the water is still fine. If you don’t, you stay and boil or take to the road or the sea and hope for those greener pastures.

The water roils beneath and around us – peak oil, health care that seldom cares about anything except money, a pervasive and invasive surveillance state, a population that is increasingly difficult to feed, house, and keep working. A massive divide between those in power and with nearly unimaginable wealth and… the rest. A clash of beliefs with all sides scrambling to aquire the means to send everyone to their individual maker. And leaders and governments and the wealthy with no plan and less interest in those deeper in the pot.

Make no mistake. We are all in the pot, however.

We are all frogs.

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~ by Mad Prophet on May 15, 2017.

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