Bewildering

I’ll admit: I often don’t – well, okay, usu- alright, really almost never – get our southern neighbours, Jesusland, er, the Libertyworld Theme Park, um, the USA. The changes which have been happening in their society, lurching ever rightward in grotesque spasms of cruelty to the – well, to almost everyone, really – don’t make sense to me.

Here in Canada, for instance, the Harpertron 5000 – CPC (non-communist) MP for Uncanny Valley – had been in the Prime Minister’s Office already for two years when I found out that someone had installed the “Evangelical Christian” package just after assembly. It just doesn’t really come up in our politics much, and an atheist doesn’t have any notable disadvantage in running for member of any parliament in many ridings (some notable exceptions exist, absolutely).

Cutting spending (and thus reducing economic growth, unless you live in the magic-thinkosphere where “spending less money in our economy is better for it!”) to fight a recession? That is bizarre – and to be fair, by no means uniquely American, as the European Community’s 1% saw an opportunity to create more serfs when they’d crashed their economies, and grabbed it with eleventy-three hands at once. Canada, for various reasons, balanced the federal budgets under Jean Chrétien and produced surpluses for much of the 90s, which allowed us to pay down our debt considerably; as a result, our economy didn’t crash nearly as badly as our neighbours’ did, as we had no impulse to implement austerity in hellish ways to make it worse, and our banks haven’t captured our regulatory mechanisms (yet).

Spending more than the next top ten militaries in the world every year? Also, bizarre. Also also, not a little bit terrifying, when one lives next door. Further terrifying, when one realizes the US is running out of water, and there’s this huge, largely un/under-populated just to the north, with an enormous supply of fresh water, and did we mention largely underpopulated? Also already mostly speaking a form of English, and generally more familiar with US culture than their own? Anyone getting a little Anschluss-y shiver, or is that just me? Just me, then.

But this latest one: holding your own government, your economy, in a hostage situation, so as to protect the profits of the health care insurance industry, while shouting at the top of your lungs how incredibly patriotic you are for doing so?

That’s…what’s the right word for this, when you’re trying not to stigmatize mental illlness? Maybe incomprehensible will do? Baffling and bewildering? Boggling and croggling? Rare as this is, I can’t find the right word at all to express what this looks like from outside, while trying to be respectful about mental health (which is not a thing I’m willing to compromise on).

But let me say this: living next to the nation with the largest military, the largest arsenal of nuclear world-ending bombs, one of the worst healthcare systems in the western democracies, collapsing physical and educational infrastructure, and an almost totally nonfunctional government…if the US shuts down its government and begins to default on its debt, in what important ways at that point would it not be rapidly approaching “failed-state” status?

Our former long-running Prime Minister, the late Pierre Trudeau, once said of the US:

Être votre voisin, c’est comme dormir avec un éléphant; quelque douce et placide que soit la bête, on subit chacun de ses mouvements et de ses grognements.

“To be your neighbour is like sleeping next to an elephant: no matter how gentle and mild the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

And when the twitch-and-grunt turns instead into musth, well, it’s a rotten time to be the mouse in the bed.

You have my sympathies, neighbourinos, and my hopes for a sudden pandemic of highly contagious rational-thinking, as well as the government the richest country on earth deserves, in place of the one the richest corporations on earth want it to be.

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