Tell me ’bout the good old days.
Sometimes it feels like
This world’s gone crazy.
Grandpa, take me back to yesterday,
Where the line between right and wrong
Didn’t seem so hazy.
Did lovers really fall in love to stay
Stand beside each other come what may
was a promise really something people kept,
Not just something they would say
Did families really bow their heads to pray
Did daddies really never go away
Whoa oh Grandpa,
Tell me ’bout the good old days.
— Grandpa (Tell Me ’bout The Good Ol’ Days)
The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson –
I long for the day when I don’t have to hear anymore about “the good old days.”
If I have to hear “the world’s gone crazy” one more time I think I will scream. The world has always been crazy and I’m sure it will remain so until the sun burns out in a billion years or so, until the Earth is hit by an asteroid or we screw up the planet’s climate with global warming from the burning of fossil fuels.
It’s just that “crazy” is now broadcast on television like never before, because that’s how television stations make money. Lot’s of money.
There is much profit to be made in appealing to the nostalgia of old people and scaring them to death. Just ask the Judd sisters. That song about grandpa hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Singles charts in 1986.
Ask the editors at Southern Living magazine. Time Inc. has made a fortune harkening to the past of the Old South — 149 years since the end of the Civil War. Next year will mark the 150th anniversary, and I’m sure we will hear all about it from newspapers and magazines and television specials, even on Facebook and Twitter.
This nostalgia can also be turned into a winning political strategy. That’s how the Republicans engineered the “Reagan Revolution” in the 1980s and still cling to power in some quarters, like my native state of Alabama.
I may be making the road trek to Montgomery this week to watch in person as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (perhaps it should be re-named the anti-Energy and Natural Resources Committee) debates a bill that would make it very difficult for new energy companies to develop wind energy farms in the state.
In spite of the Republican leadership’s claims to be all for “economic development” and to “provide new jobs” to the people of the state, and to “get the govm’t off people’s backs” and let people do what they want on their own private property, the Republican supermajority might very well pass Senate Bill 12, unless enough people publicly object.
According to an environmental lobbying outfit in Montgomery, Conservation Alabama, some state legislators want to “add burdensome regulation on wind industry, restricting private property owners and reducing economic growth.”
The Alabama Legislature intends to create zoning through this act and restrict what individuals can do on their own land, they say.
“The blanket prohibition of wind energy conversion systems in cities or counties unless those localities approve them is backdoor zoning. The intent of this bill is to kill the clean, job-producing wind energy in the state before it has a chance to grow,” the group says on its Website.
Section 9 of the bill reads: “A wind energy conversion system or tower that does not operate continuously for 365 consecutive days may be deemed abandoned.”
So any windmill on any farm in the state could be shut down if it doesn’t operate for one day out of the year?
“The standard by which this is set is arbitrary and has no value toward the safety, public health, or environmental standards by which a wind turbine is operated,” Conservation Alabama says.
The bill would also require the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (which should probably be renamed the Alabama Department Determined Not to Regulate Pollution, or ADDNRP) to handle permitting for wind farms.
This is the state agency set up in the early 1980s by former Democrat and Governor Fob James as a “one-stop permitting agency” for polluting corporations. The idea was to streamline the bureaucratic process whereby companies could locate in the state without having to worry about pesky environmental regulations. That priority still ranks up there with making sure Alabama’s work force does not join unions, so they can negotiate with companies for better wages and working conditions.
Multi-national companies looking to locate in Alabama and other states are looking to make sure they don’t have to deal with pesky unions or government regulations on the air and water pollution they emit. Get it?
But when a new kind of company comes along and wants to use new technology to create energy in a way that does not pollute, the powers that be in Montgomery want to regulate them so hard they can’t even get their businesses off the ground and hire anybody?
I mean, what’s the world coming to?
Is Alabama Power so dead-set on keeping its coal-fired power plants polluting our air and our rivers that they will pay off legislators to prevent any competition from new companies wanting to generate power in a cleaner way? The short answer: Yes. That’s what’s going on.
We have to stay mired in the past for as long as possible so they can turn a healthy profit without having to spend any of OUR money to improve OUR lives.
And the people fall for it — every time.
Let me tell you something about the good old days. Maybe I should write a new song.
Back in the good old days, the 1950s, the Birmingham suburb where my now 87-year-old mother still lives was a growing white flight bedroom community before Birmingham came to be known as Bomingham. But now the population is mostly made up of working class African-Americans, who did not even have the right to vote until 1965. Ask some of them what they think of “the good old days.”
I still have friends on Facebook who talk about this openly and say what a great place it was to grow up, and opine about how sad it is that it is now “mostly black.” I am so sick of hearing this I can’t stand it much longer. We are implementing a plan this year to get my mom out.
Perhaps it should have happened long ago. But some things are beyond god’s control, you know. You can’t just say a prayer and wish all the black and brown people would simply disappear. Nor would you want to. Go to any of the world’s great cities (Birmingham is not one of them) and you will discover that one of the things that make them great is their amazing diversity.
Also on Facebook, I hear a lot of pining for the 1960s and ‘70s. Even I admit to engaging in that nostalgia from time to time — simply because it is when I came of age as a Baby Boomer playing in rock bands. It was an amazing era for individual liberties and rock ’n’ roll.
But the old people wanted things rolled back in the 1980s, so we regressed.
If you want to engage in nostalgia, how about the 1990’s? Now there is a time of relative peace and prosperity when the personal computing revolution ramped up worker productivity to record levels and the Internet and Web came on the scene in a big way. You won’t see much nostalgia in newspapers and magazines for the “roaring ‘90s,” however, because it was the beginning of the end for them. All anyone remembers from the ’90s is that the president, a Democrat, allegedly got a BJ in the Oval Office. Perhaps they remember the OJ trial, or Michael Jackson, since that’s about all CNN covered after the first Gulf War.
I will think of the ‘90s fondly always, because I know what the world was like before five conservative justices on the United States Supreme Court handed George W. Bush the keys to the White House, changing our world for the worse perhaps forever. I am still not sure we will ever fully recover from the Bush Years.
I am not a member of the camp of conspiracy theorists who still blame Bush and Dick Cheney for “masterminding” the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. But I did write a few things a few years back demonstrating that it probably would not have happened if it were not for the long-standing alliance and then animosity between the Bush and Bin Laden families. You can Google the background on that all day long. See Michael Moore’s take. I don’t intend to rehash it at this point. It’s beside the point now.
The real damage from the Bush years was that the deregulation philosophy pushed by the “free market” school of thought emanating out of the Chicago School of Economics did not work to do anything but make giant, multinational corporations richer than their wildest dreams, while pushing the American middle class back into the poverty ranks. Bush’s policies came closer than most people realize to totally collapsing the global economy.
While there is still a lot of opposition out there to Bush’s bank bailout, along with the other one engineered by the Obama administration after Barack Obama got the keys to the White House, there is little doubt that the outcome of the election of 2008 saved most of us from starvation or suicide.
Perhaps the rich people would have been fine — if they stowed their money in foreign bank accounts or gold bullion. But the rest of us would have been done for if the federal government had not stepped in and played an active role in the economy.
So don’t fall for it when you hear a nostalgic governor like Robert Bentley of Alabama try to wax eloquent as if he was George Wallace about how the federal govm’t has “grown, expanded and … become a ‘lumbering giant’ threatening our nation’s economic stability, national security and the very freedom of our people.”
“Our people” to him and his cohorts in the legislature means Lilly-white fake Christian males who run the big corporations — and to hell with the rest of us. As I have said and written many times before, and I will keep on saying and writing it again and again, any poor or middle-class worker, especially a member of a union, who votes for this fake political crap is voting against their own and their family’s own best interests.
You can’t and won’t get that story out of newspapers, on the radio or on television. The only people who are telling that story publish on the Web Press. Learn to live with it. It will be the primary way people get information for the rest of our long or short lives. Get over it and get on with it.
If we try hard enough, perhaps we can make the world a better place while we’re here. It does no good to wax nostalgic about a “better world” that never existed in the first place.
© 2014, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.