Last night we went to see Nebraska, the Bruce Dern film shot in black and White about old people and their depressing lives. He plays a sad, somewhat senile old man, who got a notice from a marketing company telling him he won One Million dollars. All he has to do is bring the letter to receive the money. He gets his son to drive him the approximately 8oo miles to claim his “Prize.” The wide open spaces of Montana and Nebraska provides a realistic background for the lack of energy we see in most of the characters. They sit in groups of friends and relatives, watching TV, not speaking and never changing expression. It looks like a Grant Wood painting. It seems at times to be more like a series of photos, rather than a moving picture.
Their sadness with its continuous lack of vim, vigor and intelligent conversation made me feel that this scenario is repeated today all across America, primarily because of the depressing creeping poverty and seeming lack of opportunity, I had an urge to yell at the screen…SNAP OUT OF IT!! You have to do SOMETHING to make your lives better. Just by sitting there, nothing will ever change to improve things.
Income inequality is not the problem. Lack of effort and initiative is. If a dozen Billionaires went bust tomorrow, these lethargic folks wouldn’t notice it one bit. More government handouts are not the answer either. An inequality of income opportunity is more representative of their situation. So what have many poor Americans done to improve their lot in life? They pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, (whatever that means) and worked harder and smarter utilizing their skills or learned a new trade. But maybe I had judged these plain and simple folks unfairly. They do have homes, cars, small businesses, and a comfortable lifestyles living amongst relatives and life long friends. Maybe they are happy because their life is all they know and they don’t aspire to what I call better or more luxurious things. They just might be content. I guess content is O.K.
Now, how about a few brief words about our recent “State of the Union” address. I think the President looked happy and chipper in spite of the negative comments in the media. I think he knew that his long overdue statement guaranteeing “equal pay for equal work” and the raise of the minimal wage to $10.10 will be well received. And boy oh boy, was it. He created a difficult problem for the Republican Party. As the throngs of Democrats and almost all women in the hall stood and applauded for several minutes, the vision of John Boehner sitting there uncaring, I’m sure has left an indelible mark on the American electorate. The wage disparity has also appeared suddenly in New York and New Jersey. Both states share operating control of the Port Authority that manages the Bridges and Tunnels linking the two states. Governor Andrew Cuomo almost immediately accepted the increase up to $10.10 for his New York employees of the Port Authority, leaving a very problematic situation for Governor Chris Christie. As the media darling and acknowledged leader in the Republican Polls for the 2016 Presidential election, Christie and his office, has recently come under severe media scrutiny for questionably closing several lanes for four days of the George Washington Bridge (the busiest bridge in the World), and causing gigantic traffic jams. Governor Christie had to make a decision to keep his Presidential hopes alive. He chose to not increase the wages on the Jersey side, enraging his employees but satisfying the ultra conservative wing of his party. Conservatives howl every time a raise in the minimum wage is suggested. They insist that the higher labor costs would results in layoffs and higher unemployment. But the minimum wage is $10 per hour in Britain and Canada, nearly $13 in France and $14.88 in Australia. The Australian unemployment rate is only 5.7% , compared to our 7%.
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