Wednesday, April 29, 2015

And the People Hide Their Faces

As usual, Miss Nina tells it like it is.

Whatever else is going on - and much, at the moment, is far from clear - something is wrong.  Not just in Baltimore, not just with police.  Something larger, and it's getting worse.  It's not all about race - although given our nation's benighted history, that sadly still has its place.  It's about bigger things - power, poverty (and wealth), and a world that for more and more people, for often wildly divergent reasons, seems less and less predictable, and therefore (concomitantly) both more frightening and less worth being part of.

The phrase "economic inequality" seems a dry answer, and while I don't believe it's a comprehensive one, it goes a long way to start the conversation.  The consequences of concentrating wealth at the top are myriad, but the starkest is the vast gap it leaves between between that top and everyone else, most particularly those at the far end of the spectrum.  In everyday practice, it becomes the spectre of wealthy congressmen coming up with ever more creative ways to torment the poor (no fish for you, you trashy food-stamp-takers,  you!), and on a more systematic level, over time, it's the disaster of dismantling what was once history's most comprehensive public-education program.  After all, if I can pay for the kids to go to the tony academy two streets over, why pay for that rotting high school downtown?  Our society today has, knowingly or not, a kind of zero-sum theory of social interaction - if you get more, I may get less.  And I'm keeping mine.

As is it with education, so it goes for for public health, and public services, and God help us, public infrastructure (how long will it be until bridges start collapsing?).  The fallout from the Reaganite worship of tax cuts above all other civic virtues is, I think, coming home to roost in the streets of Baltimore.  Ain't it hard just to live?

So far, sitting as I am this evening on the balcony of our comfortable little condo with its green suburban view, it seems to be a lovely spring.  I'm more than a little afraid, though, that it's going to be a long hot summer.

[I'd never heard this live version of "Baltimore" before; it's vastly different from the lushly arranged version on the album of the same name.  Simone apparently hated the album, in large part because of the arrangements, which were added to her vocal tracks after the fact; I don't, but I have to say this stripped-down version is pretty remarkable.]

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