Makin’ Thunderbirds

Letter to a Brit friend.

Are you interested in history and culture? Did you know that in the US we spell things like theater instead of theatre and color instead of colour because 19th century teacher and journalist Noah Webster wanted to create an American identity? He wrote a dictionary with his own spellings and pronunciations. Pretty silly if you ask me.

The US hasn’t really been a great place to live in many years. The switch from a manufacturing economy in the ’70s and ’80s to a service economy was a disaster.

There’s a rock song by Bob Seger called “Making Thunderbirds” that sums it up. Mind you, by the time I was in high school we were having gas crises. Gas guzzlers were a wasteful thing of the past. How the hell did SUVs get so popular? Did people really forget or is this some sick societal denial?

Makin’ Thunderbirds
Words and music by Bob Seger.

The big line moved one mile an hour
So loud it really hurt
The big line moved so loud
It really hurt
Back in ’55
We were makin’ Thunderbirds

We filled conveyors
We met production
Foremen didn’t waste words
We met production
Foremen didn’t waste words
We were young and proud
We were makin’ Thunderbirds

We were makin’ Thunderbirds
We were makin’ Thunderbirds
They were long and low and sleek and fast
They were all you ever heard
Back in ’55
We were makin’ Thunderbirds

Now the years have flown and the plants have changed
And you’re lucky if you work
The big line moves but you’re lucky if you work
Back in ’55
We were makin’ Thunderbirds

We were makin’ Thunderbirds
We were makin’ Thunderbirds
They were long and low and sleek and fast
They were classic in a word
Back in ’55
We were makin’ Thunderbirds
We were young and proud
We were makin’ Thunderbirds
We were young and sure
We were makin’ Thunderbirds

A free market economy doesn’t work because capitalism works to enrich itself, not to bring the American Dream to its workers. Trickle-down economics is the theory that if you give money to big corporations, that they will share the prosperity with their workers. In practice, this has worked to create a huge gap where there used to be a middle class.

The American Dream means getting lots of possessions. Start with a house. The powers-that-be wanted so desperately to keep the American Dream alive that they loosened requirements to buy a house. People bought, thinking that their salaries would increase. Salaries have been stagnant, there have been mass foreclosures, investors started pulling out of the U.S.. You know the rest. If there’s a worldwide recession, it is totally because of stupid foreign policy on the part of our government.

Oh, sorry about Bush. How can 59 million people be so damn stupid?

Don’t get me started on the ugly fact that the American Dream is financed by foreign investors, not by our employers. We are a black hole that sucks in products from around the world. Cash, dollar bills, are essentially an I.O.U. from the Federal Reserve Bank, a symbol of the Fed’s huge debt. They have no intrinsic value, so when international trust in the U.S. is broken, dollars suddenly aren’t so popular. Heh, don’t get me started.

It’s complicated. I could go on for hours. Are you bored? When I was a kid, engineers were quite prosperous. My husband and I are *both* engineers, but we can’t afford the kind of house I grew up in. That’s how much it has changed.

The guys who write the news are in the upper class. The lower class is invisible to them. Insignificant. Our best newspaper, the New York Times, is a bastion of the status quo.

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