(This post is not about what you are thinking so get a grip, although bigness in certain parts of our bodies is another part of the problem.)
I think it is big that has got me in my funk this month. Everything is big these days...too big. A bigness that is suffocating in its presence is everywhere. In America we are big on big. (I am also not talking about the size of our butts, but that is certainly an area we can claim as big.) I am talking about other types of big. Americans go to big box stores to buy...big boxes of stuff that is essential to our lives. We then buy bigger shelves to store all our big boxes. When we run out of shelves we rent big walk-in storage units on the other side of town to store even more of our stuff. Stuff that we will get to someday. Stuff that we may use someday.
Appliances are certainly bigger as is furniture. We have to have lots of food and then larger chairs to fit those butts in place. Even airlines are adjusting for bigger weight and bigger butts.
Prior to the housing collapse, big houses, called MacMansions and named after the Big Macs of our culture, were the dream to strive for. I have mentioned before that I live down the road from a lottery winner and I actually think she now regrets her big foyer in her lovely mansion. She explained to me one day that she feels intimidated when entering her own house! When I built this house that I now live in, I was a Sarah Susanka fan. I bought all her books. She is an architect and the author of "Creating the Not so Big House." She was all the rage back in 1998, which to me was not so long ago, but to the younger people ages ago. Her philosophy is to build a home that nurtures spirit rather than simply impresses with scale. She writes about these "impersonal storage containers" we build that are "only the hollowness of the promise of bigger is better." Anyway, I digress.
Our American society wants big in each and every way. Our Presidential Election is now mired in big spending. The DNC spent 70.8 million by this past June and the RNC spent 38.8 million over a similar time. We still have months to go! Figuring in all types of spending from those amazing super PACs on this election and the numbers come close to 2 billion dollars! Such jaw dropping numbers must fill other countries with terrifying awe, especially since we are in the midst of a global recession. Imagine what you or I could do with this money to improve the fate of a few citizens or perhaps an entire country!
I watched a Sundance documentary the other day about the Barnes Foundation outside of Philadelphia. This collection of multimillion dollar art had been housed outside the city where it could be available only to those who could appreciate its beauty and rareness as an educational foundation. The founder and owner was aghast at how rich people used art like wallpaper and he wanted to prevent that by making the art available to small groups of those who truly loved art and keeping it set in a home where it could be savored. Upon his death the movie indicated that big philanthropists such as Pew and Annenberg (yes those good guys who had wanted to get their hands on this collection for decades) manipulated the system without using much of their money but most of their power to get the collection moved to the city where it could be housed in a new art museum paid for by the taxpayers. I will not argue whether this was wise or philanthropic, but I will say that they were able to overcome the wishes in the owner's will and the will of those who loved and worked for years on the collection without including them in the decision making process. They were Big rich, they influenced state politicians, and even though it went to court, they got what they wanted. They were Big.
Do I even need to rant at all on Big corporations? Time and our sighs as emotional fear has left the building have given us perspective. We now know that the creation of derivatives, another name for selling junk paper, by big banks and big investment firms, are what brought this country into this horrible recession. Time has shown that it is not the greed of the home buyers, nor the high pensions of retirees, that caused this debt. Big Wall Street has gotten off free to continue to find new ways to fleece big money from all of us. The dirty paper they sold to pension funds as far away as Australia and as close as your nearby city, has resulted in elected officials and board members being fined and/or sent to jail and towns becoming bankrupt, while bankers and wall street paper pushers are left to get bigger. It is hard to follow the money trail, but it is not the greed of the little guy that started this nor finished it.
And you can complain all you want about the subsidized food program for the poor, but Uncle Sam has made sure that Big Corporations do NOT get cut in this.
J.P. Morgan even insults us by outsourcing their management of the Food Stamp phone bank to India because it is cheaper.
As far as I am concerned, nothing in this country is too big to fail, and Congress may even make sure it is the U.S. government that goes bankrupt if they refuse to pass budget bills this fall. I guess they agree with me. After all, Iceland filed criminal charges against it three Big banks and has come out on the other side way ahead of the Euro crises.
"But others deem that Iceland’s purge of its financial sector has been a success. For his part, Hauksson, who hopes to finish his task by 2015, hopes that Iceland, whose economy is gradually recovering, will one day “look behind and be proud of being able to learn the lessons of the past.”
As he told Le Monde, “I don’t know of any similar procedure conducted in anywhere else the world, and our work has shown the extent to which the banking system that was put in place was a far cry from what we imagined it to be."
Now I am going to go make me a small cup of tea...it is 4:30 in the morning here!
(I have to really stop writing this way, my followers have begun to drop!)