(Photo is of Madam Jane, roughing it!)
America used to be so strong that it appeared to be invincible. But not any more. Currently we are as invincible as a house of cards -- or should I say a house of dollars -- because the cancer of monetary instability is destroying our country from within. And don't you find it ironic that the biggest threat to America today is coming from within instead of from outside -- and that our hyper-expensive, fabulously up-to-date military technology that has cost us trillions of dollars and is supposed to be a state-of-the-art defense operation guaranteed to keep us all safe in our beds forever cannot even begin to protect us from this danger at all?
There we all were, spending the last whole eight years of our lives fearfully huddled around the six-o'clock news, anxiously watching the Middle East for signs of danger to our country from "terrorists" -- while all along our safety was being systematically destroyed by "privatization" and "globalization" and the well-oiled Bush-Cheney-McCain axis of opportunism instead.
The dollar is falling right now -- and it's going continue to fall. You don't have to be Madam Jane to make that prediction, however. All you gotta do is look at the ads that are flashing across the top of your internet browser right now. "Take advantage of the fall of the dollar!" they scream.
Thanks to the fall of the dollar, America will probably never be a superpower again. But what's done is done. You can't put Humpty Dumpty back together. So what we need to do now is to figure out how to salvage what is left of our country and go on from there.
"Madam Jane, what is going to happen to us after the Fall?" Hmmm....
"First we need to take a look at what we have left to work with, boys and girls." We have approximately 300 million relatively well-educated people, some fairly intact infrastructure more or less, and a lot of land. Will we be able to use these basic ingredients and somehow manage to start over again? Sure. Hey, the Soviet Union did.
In order to rebuild ourselves, however, we are going to have to start thinking differently. Forget about financing a military on steroids that can dominate the world. Those days are gone. Forget about bailing out Wall Street with taxpayers' money. They had their chance and blew it. Forget about corporate welfare and globalization and insider perks at the White House. We already saw where that got us. If we just keep on trying to re-create the 1950s again and again, we are never gonna be happy in the future and will just end up being some tired old June Cleaver wannabes with no hope and no pride.
Americans need to get a whole new mindset going on if we are ever going to survive after the Fall. We need to start thinking about citizen-democracy on the local level and making things work within 50 miles of where we live instead of on K Street or on the other side of the world. And we need to start thinking about forming crafts cooperatives, building foundries and homesteading family farms.
"Madam Jane, that's crazy. That's too extreme. Crafts cooperatives? Family farms? You can't be serious. I'll get my hands all dirty. I'll break a nail!"
Sorry, dears. But it's just too late for quick fixes by Washington politicians and/or more corporate welfare and "globalization". The last time the dollar fell this low was in 1929 and we had a major Depression. Think about what people did back then and start doing it now. Do what the Okies and hobos did and become nomadic. Use your $300 tax rebate to buy solar panels, strap them on the back of your hooptie and follow the sun. Or, if you can still afford to stay at home, save all that junk in your closets for barter. Network with your friends. Think outside the box. Forget about malls. Sit down and figure out what your real power base is going to be and what exactly you will need to do to help you and your family survive in this new post-Bush economy.
What will you need as a power base to get you through the Fall of America? "Madam Jane predicts that it's not going to be television. It's not going to be CitiBank or Bear-Stearns. And it's sure as heck not going to be made in China or powered by oil."
Look around you. What do you value most? What can you hold onto during the coming hard times? And who will help you? Who can you trust?
The America that we know is gone. It was shoplifted out from under us while we were busy watching the Twin Towers burn and focused on Al Qaeda. And while we were distracted, guys in blue suits snuck into our treasury and happily replaced our big bags of gold with big bags of sand. All that stuff is gone. Wave goodbye to it, start looking at your life with fresh eyes and then pray that the rest of the world will help us in some other way than the way that we "helped" them.
Go out and plant some carrots.
Do you live near a park with open spaces that can be plowed? Can you drill a well? Can you put on a talent show when your I-Pod gives out? Did your grandmother teach you how to can? Then you might be okay after the Fall. "Your life may not be like it was in the good old days, but you WILL be all right." Always remember that 150 years ago, no one in America had cars and no one even had electricity. But they did okay. So can we.
PS: My trip to North Korea in April is currently on hold because of new travel limitations sent out from the DRNK. But frankly, it's probably just as well. My days of thinking that if I could only report accurately on what's going on in Iraq or North Korea or some place on the other side of the world, then I might somehow be able to save America from its own folly? Well, those days are gone too. The Next Big Story is no longer gonna be found in Gaza or Somalia or Afghanistan. The Next Big Story is going to be found right here at home.
I can no longer afford to squander time, money and energy on exposing the various different ways that the Bush-Cheney-McCain axis's foreign policies have failed us. At this point in time, I need to start using whatever few resources I have left to buy solar panels and root-stock instead.
And you should be doing this too.
PPS: Madam Jane just got some fan mail. "MJ, do you always have to be so gloomy about everything? Lighten up!" And then said fan then proceeded to open up a whole big can of gloom too. Humph.
"What is missing in this prediction," wrote the fan, "is a tad bit of historical context. If I was you, I would google 'downfall of nations and empires' and see if you can't come up with something universal on why nations crash. Maybe you could write something about over-reach. Historically, powerful and wealthy countries have built economic empires over time which keep getting larger and larger, but also require that they station troops further and further away in order to defend more and more economic interests further and further from home base -- to the point where their empires cost more than the economic benefits of said empires and, at that point, the big drain sets in. And the end of the big drain is called the big toilet."
This fan then goes on to hint that Madam Jane might be misguided. How can that be? Madam Jane sees all and knows all!
"It's not so much being screwed at home that is sinking us into the toilet. It is the mercenaries screwing us from afar that are draining the piggy bank at home," writes the fan. "We went into Iraq for oil, for economic interests, for empire -- and now it's costing us a fortune. The empire is now dry. And I'm not talking about being dry for just a year or two and then we'll bounce back. This drain-to-dry will be going on for decades to come. And in the meantime, there are other empires that do not have the overseas drain that we have and are building up their own power base at home and are raking in the money without having to pay the costs of defending an empire. That would be Europe and China and possibly India."
Madam Jane predicts that this fan may be on to something here.
"Oh yeah," added the fan, who now appears to be trying to compete for MJ's job himself. "Don't forget to remind people that their kids should be learning to speak French and Chinese."