Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The New Abnormal

Not much new in this essay by Bernie Sanders, but I include it just for the title: We must not accept this economic 'new normal' (The Guardian). As I’ve said before, the new normal is the phrase we’re going to hear over and over again in the years to come. Rather than admit capitalism is failing, it’s failures will just be rationalized away as the new normal. It’s not the system’s problem. It’s the normalization of the exceptional. Rather than admit capitalism is failing to deliver better lives for most people, you just normalize whatever dysfunctional aspect is cropping up as the new normal.

It’s kind of like if your car broke down, and instead of fixing it, you just defined motionlessness as the new normal.

Going into debt tens of thousands of dollars just to have a job? That’s the new normal.Most new jobs being minimum wage jobs? That the new normal.Over one in ten people unemployed? That’s the new normal.Banks and government officials above the law? That’s the new normal.People evicted from their homes. That’s the new normal.The government reading all of your emails and recording every phone conversation? Cameras everywhere? Being searched when you get on transportation? Well, that’s the new normal.

It’s amazing how many things they have gotten us to accept, just by redefining them as the new normal.

But they’re not normal. And we should never normalize things that we know can be better. In fact, we know they can be better because they have been better in the recent past. These are not laws of nature, they’re choices. Societal choices that our betters have convinced us are best for all. But it isn’t true.

We don’t have to be debt serfs just to get an education.
We don’t have to work for minimum wage at jobs we hate.
We don’t have to work 40 hours a week or fifty-plus weeks a year for society to function.
There’s no reason anyone has to be unemployed.
There’s no reason that banks should operate as a new aristocracy.
There’s no reason we can’t move to non-carbon power sources.
There’s no reason we can’t have honest people running our government instead of crooks and cronies.
There’s no reason for hospitals to be out of medicine, schools to be closing, and workers to be laid off.
There’s no reason we need to eliminate the social safety net to pay off debt.
Yes we can “afford” to have universal healthcare, education and pensions.

So when you hear the phrase the new normal, don’t you believe it. There’s nothing normal at all about our situation.

1 comment:

  1. After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the new regime called itself "normalization." Of course, nobody believed it was normal. Its credibility was ephemeral. The system had precisely 20 years of faltering life in it... held up by lies and duct tape.

    Perhaps that is the norm of failing systems... therefore "normalization". :-)


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