I’ve just finished watching Requiem for the American Dream and if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend giving it a gander. Requiem for the American Dream is an interview with the intellectual great Noam Chomsky discussing the economic state of American and the world, the erasure of the middle class and how the wealthy discreetly control the government. He delves into what it means to be a democratic government and when you think about it, we aren’t really as democratic as we’d like to think.
I live in Australia so I will admit not everything applies as significantly, certain laws and policies differ, Australia is still a part of the Commonwealth, but we are a democratic country. The scariest thing about Australian politics and government is just how closely we will follow whatever the U.S government does. America says jump, Australia says how high? We follow America into war, majority of our entertainment is Americanised and the way the Australian government controls the financial state of the country is very similar to what has and is happening in America. I don’t know why we think of America as our guide, things have been going downhill there for nearly half a century now. There’s this cycle of money being shifted around pocket to pocket between the governments, to big banks and to the 1%. It’s all connected and we, the 99%, are here to serve one purpose: To help the rich get richer. We do this by paying high taxes, working for a lower wage and by being generally complacent.
The basis of democracy is to let the people rule. Every person gets a say in what they want for their country. Though this is obviously not what it feels like. How many people out there actually feel like their voice is heard at all by the government. I sure don’t and I don’t feel like I’m given enough resources to be fully informed. The government loves keeping citizens in the dark. To say that I feel I have any power in regards to the well-being of my country would be a lie.
The inequality between classes is a quickly widening gap. Back in the fifties and sixties, progression between the classes was possible. Even if you were a low income earner, it was possible to go to a good school, buy a decent house in a nice neighbourhood and do better than your parents had in the previous decade. This form of hope that if you work hard you can build a better life for yourself is a joke nowadays. It is extremely difficult to break out of the class you were born into, the system is rigged against you. Funding for public schools is lower but private school tuition is higher than it’s ever been. So not only are you already facing the usual struggles of poverty you are now receiving lesser education preventing you from getting into good universities and into a high paying career. If you do make it through the public education system and get to attend university you then are looking at ridiculous tuition fees much higher than ever before.* But don’t fear you can get student loans, but you now will have to start paying them off earlier Then you’ve got to get a job in a job market that is already so overfilled, wages are going down, taxes up, the housing market doesn’t exist to me because it’s so unrealistic, I don’t even think about it. I’m going to stop because I’m getting too overwhelmed. But it’s obvious the odds are not in our favour.
There’s a loss of community that’s formed as we’ve slowly slipped into this detrimental financial crisis. We are getting pitted against each other. Taxes in theory are something we should be happy to pay. In theory our taxes come back to us in turn. If we have a little bit of extra cash should we not be happy to give it to someone less fortunate so that the can live a better life too? Everyone is all for equality except for when it comes to the sharing of wealth. We should all be given equal opportunities despite our class or financial standing. That’s what democracy means to me.
I’ve always been inspired by Chomsky and his political activism but I think I stumbled upon this documentary just at the right time in my life. A lot of the points he raises in this film are the same concerns I’ve been trying to communicate to my friends and family. Though, as I’m not an academic linguist I often come across as a raving conspiracy-theory nut. Now when someone asks me what my opinion is on economics and the way our government functions I can just point them in the direction of this film. The only issue I have with this film is that it offers no solution or hope of things getting better. Which is the major problem I’m having with society at the moment. People are becoming aware of what is happening around us but no one knows how to fix things. Everyone is just accepting that this is the way things are. Life’s not fair. So how do we get up every day and function with the knowledge that game is rigged against us? Why do we have to struggle while the rich just get richer?
* Earlier as in as soon as you earn over $42,000. That’s only 20% over the minimum wage.