Can We Take It Anymore?
By Patrick F. Cannon
In the 1976 movie, Network, anchor Howard Beale, played by actor Peter Finch, finishes a deranged rant by yelling, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” (You can find the whole rant on YouTube.) He was talking about the state of the country. Forty-five years later, things are just as bad, and maybe worse. While examples are limitless, here are just a few.
In 2016, the country elected a lunatic as its president. Emboldened by this, the Republicans in Congress rushed through tax increases that added vastly to the national debt. You used to be able to count on Republicans to find ways to cut spending, or at least give it the old college try. During Trump’s administration, the national debt went from $19.5 trillion to $27.7. In 2016, this amounted to 105% of the GDP (gross domestic product); in 2020, the ratio was 129%. In 1974, it was 31%, and in 2008 – when we were in a recession and bailing out the banks — 68%. These are Republicans? Go figure. Now that they are in power – sort of – the Democrats are proposing to make things even worse.
Politicians of both party’s persist in involving us in wars which we don’t – or perhaps can’t – win. Afghanistan is just the most recent example of a trend that began in Korea. And after we’ve lost, we don’t seem to be able to exit gracefully. Who can forget the pictures of helicopters lifting people off the roof of the US Embassy in Saigon? President Biden persists in claiming he did the right thing in withdrawing the military before making certain that all US citizens and our Afghan friends were out. Disgraceful.
(Let me toss in here the curious fact that our vaunted military – lavishly funded – requires 900 general or flag (that’s admirals) officers to supervise approximately 1.35 million men and women. That’s one high-ranking officer per 1,400 other ranks. In 1945, at the end of World War II – which we actually won – the ratio was 1 for 6,000. Also in 1945, there were 13 four-star and 7 five-star officers. There are no five-star officers now, but there are 43 with four stars! Too many cooks?)
Living as I do in Illinois and the Chicago area, it is hard not to believe that the quality of our political leaders at all levels is about as low as it could be. We have a governor, JB Pritzker, who bought the office. He made many promises about ethics and redistricting reform, but caved to the Democratic legislature on both. He’s already running for re-election; spending lavishly for TV spots even though the election isn’t until November of next year. I do believe that some towns and villages have honest leaders, but remind me: how many Chicago alderman have gone to jail or are under indictment? And let me remind you that if you asked most politicians whether they put the interests of the country or getting reelected first, they’d lie.
Then there’s the pandemic. Despite the fact that mandatory vaccinations have been required for school children for as long as I can remember, suddenly for Covid-19 it has become a matter of “personal freedom.” A good many of your 676,000 fellow citizens who have died of the virus did so because they refused to get vaccinated. In freedom-loving Florida, the death rate is 2.07 per 100,000. In Illinois (let’s be fair to Governor Pritzker here), the death rate is 0.34. Other states with high death rates (Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, etc.) have governors who are still living in Trumpland.
So maybe we should all go to our windows, open them, and yell: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” But perhaps things aren’t quite as bad as I think. The White Sox look like they might get to the World Series; the Cubs are showing some signs of life; and the Bears stand atop the North Division of the NFC. Don’t believe me? Look it up.
Copyright 2021, Patrick F. Cannon