I, like many immigrants to the United States have a strong affection for our adopted country. Yes, I know that I could easily be deported and my citizenship revoked. But in spite of that knowledge I still hold these United States to be my country and will not give an inch. This is the life of most immigrants. We have given up much in search of better and having found it guard it jealously. But primarily we understand the beauty and are willing to help in making her a more perfect union.
A frequent question that many immigrants encounter, “Where are you from?”, is not easily answered. I loved my upbringing in Jamaica and would not trade it for anything, but the first answer that comes to mind is New York City. I was first in New York City at age 10 or 11 and came of age in that wonderful city. My closest family still calls New York City home. That answer is not sufficient for many because the followup usually goes like this, “but, where is your accent from?” My answer many times is even more perplexing, “I grew up in Jamaica.” That very precise answer is more often that not followed by, “really! I have been to Jamaica and you do not really have a Jamaican accent.”
I have been thinking about this all week. What is my identity, but more importantly what is identity?
That is a more complex question than I can answer, but I construct identity from the answers to several questions.
My questions in decreasing order are;
1. who am I genetically,
2. who am I socially,
3. who am I psychologically,
4. who am I racially,
5. who am I culturally,
6. what nation do I have affinity to.
Conspicuous by absence is place of birth because I do not think that one’s place of birth is as important as it once was. With the advance of technology the planet is more like a small island in a small lake in a large ocean. Your place of birth is in the large-scale of the universe that island, because a visitor will not care which section of the island. The mobility of humanity and the ever shrinking divide between us will ultimately make the question of place of birth and national affinity irrelevant.
How do you construct your identity?
There is a time and place for everything. But there is always time for curiosity and learning. We are all born with a curious instinct, but it unfortunately it gets drummed out of us. I have the unfortunate curse or blessing of still being curious. I am always looking for a new challenge and very often finding it. I am not sure how I came to be this person, but I am sure my up bringing had something to do with it.
What exactly was involved I do not know, but I would love to figure it out.
I would love to pass my curiosity unto my girls. How to do that is the key question and my current challenge. In examining my up bringing the one constant I can remember is the emphasis on knowledge. My parents were quite permissive in their wiliness to allow me access to new and challenging things and they too were constantly acquiring new knowledge. They allowed me to spend a summer learning to be a tailor, that was a great experience and I still have the first mens suit I made. We also had pianos at home and my mother taught us to play and while doing music theory exams from the London School of Music, she shared her lessons with us. My dad was always reading something new and my grandparents, who lived up the street, were relentless in their reading habits.
My mother would buy us extra books beyond the recommended in math and science classes. The emphasis on learning was everywhere around us. Even today my parents are still relentlessly learning new things and taking new courses and showing up much younger people. They are my heroes and I would love to be the same type of example to my princesses. Some say knowledge is power, but I say the pursuit of knowledge creates everlasting strength.
I am often struck by the disconnect in our political life about what our government spends money on. We hear the clamor for reduced spending and the false equivalency to a household budget. The intellectual dishonesty of the argument is clear if only we would look even superficially. The budget of the American State is primarily about moving money from the coasts to the rest of the country. It is about paying off the rich for their service to the entrenched political class. Who is actually getting our money? Look at your representatives in congress to find the answers.
Our political system is a construct where there are three branches of government with supposed equality of power. However, on close inspection it is clear where the real power lies. It lies with the body that controls the purse. The budget of the US federal government is controlled by the congress. They are the holders of the passbook, they alone can authorize the use of funds. The lie that the President of the United States, whomever he is, controls spending is a lie told to the uninformed. Unfortunately the majority of the electorate is among that group and hence getting to the real problem in American government is not possible.
If we recognized the facts of the economics of the federal system the discussion would not be so hollow. First, we have a state welfare system in which the richer states support the poorer ones. This is how the poor southern states got money for new infrastructure while the states in the northeast cannot afford to maintain their own. In principle the richer states helping the poorer to better the circumstances of their citizens is an admirable goal. If we examine the post civil war era called reconstruction we can see where the interests of the south, the primary beneficiary of the federal transfers, lies. The current aversion to anything that would help the working poor comes directly from the language of that era. This disdain for the working poor is not new, the purveyors have just regained power. The south lost the shooting war but has won the long-term economic struggle. My analysis is rough and you may say without merit, but I suggest you take a closer look.
The entrenched political class is the congress of the United States of American. They need to be term limited. No congress person should be able to serve longer than the President of the Republic. The current system disengages the congress from the people they should be representing. The people who get representation are those with the economic ability to buy time with their representative. The resource poor many are left to the vagaries of the market, while the insiders are protected. Term limiting congress persons would be a great place to start in fixing the debacle called American Government.
There is a time and place for everything and I think it is time for us to all look in the mirror. Our government has impaled herself on her own sword. The truth is that there is only one person to blame. No, it is not the President nor is it members of congress. You and I are to blame. We are the idiots that believe the garbage spewing from the despicable talking heads on radio and TV.
The continued pretense that there is always two sides to a story belies the continued mass delusion we live under. There is not two sides to every story. The imbeciles that continue to repeat that lie are in my view the worst thing that has every happened to our country. This pretense is used to confuse and demoralize the masses. This pretense allows the well dressed liars to continue to manipulate the low information voter. We all need to stop buying what the snake oil man is selling.
The current big lie is that Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act is going to bankrupt the country. The system as we have known it was doing that already. The honest among us will acknowledge that health care inflation was already running rampant. Obamacare has nothing to do with it. The honest among us will admit that there was always a problem and that Obamacare is an attempt to solve it. The most insidious lie of this whole fiasco is the that Obamacare is proposing something new. It is not. If we were paying attention to the health care debate of the mid to late 90’s we would recognize that this is exactly what was recommended by the right-wing think tanks. But the liars among us continue to deny and obfuscate.
The level of dishonesty is mind-blowing and disgusting. The people we expect to know more continue to disappoint. The dishonest continue to lie to the low information voter and said voter continues to send dishonest representatives to Washington. The deeper problem with our country is that the majority of the population lacks the willingness to do what is necessary to be considered a ‘informed citizenry’. Help us all.