oh, the subversive little song they taught us at school!
apparently, i am not the only one in the world who can only take so much of kate smith warbling G-d Bless America. legendary man of the people woody guthrie was absolutely annoyed by the never-ending airplay of this (admittedly classic) song and took matters in his own hands, writing this land is your land in 1940. most grade school kids can recite the first verse in their sleep; i remember we had to learn a verse or two more in my day. there are, of course, two verses often omitted, thanks to some sort of printing mistake in 1945 (so THAT’S what they called it back then… i smell conspiracy!)
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
you stick it to the private property man, woody! that stanza has a grandchild:
and then, there’s this:
- Nobody living can ever stop me,
- As I go walking that freedom highway;
- Nobody living can ever make me turn back
- This land was made for you and me.
- In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
- By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
- As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
- Is this land made for you and me?
wow. they never taught us those ones in school.
those latter lyrics about hungry people give me pause. so many people today have lost their homes, their jobs, their standard of living. many more are in danger of doing so. i’d say that most americans historically looked at it as a sort of us or them situation; being poor was something other people did, and they did so because they were lazy. i’ve never felt that way, of course; but now, i think plenty of other people who are in that boat are realizing that it often has little to do with your motivation and a lot to do with economic realities.
for starters, you shouldn’t buy a home if you can’t afford to do so. programs that let unqualified home buyers go out and buy homes anyway were a gamble that eventually made everyone in this country a loser. do i think these unqualified home buyers ought to be homeless? of course not. but i’m sure more unscrupulous people made some of the iffy-er economic entanglements too good to resist. i remember when BS and i were looking to purchase our home. we had saved and tried to live within our means for a long time; and when some real estate agents dangled some absurdly dazzling numbers in front of our eyes regarding how much home we could afford, we dug in our heels and said no. we had done our own calculations, and we had a number with which we were comfortable. we knew we couldn’t go higher.
clearly, not everyone was able to do that.
and wall street clearly needs some better rules and even better enforcement of them. completely stealing from the other 98%:
- Consumer Protection: Create an independent agency to protect consumers, not bankers. A strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency must be independent of Wall Street and other federal agencies, such as the Federal Reserve.
- Rational Risks: Stop banks from taking excessive risks with your money.
- National Economic Security: End “Too Big Too Fail” by setting limits on how big a bank can be, which will end our current system where the five largest banks control more than half of the nation’s deposits. You can help by supporting small, community banks at home
- Disarm Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction: Stop Wall Street from taking advantage of families with defective products like subprime mortgages.
- Market Transparency: Make banks disclose what they are betting our money on by making exchanges open and fully transparent, and by forcing big banks and credit card companies to offer clear terms consumers.
- Accountability: End taxpayer bailouts and force banks to clean up their own mess.
i couldn’t have said it better myself. thanks, guys.
but it still gives me pause. where did our common sense go? if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is; so why did so many americans fall for so much of this smoke and mirrors game?
i wish woody guthrie were here to walk across this land today. i wonder what he’d think?