Wednesday, 08 October 2008 19:00 GFP Columnist - Jack Random
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ImageWhen times hit rock bottom for the American colonies, their Continental Army on the verge of defeat, Thomas Paine stood up and appealed to common sense. By raw instinct, the people understood that Paine (though an Englishman) was one of them, that his voice belonged to them, that his cause was universal and his message undeniable: What sense did it make for ordinary citizens to stand up and fight against the most powerful military on earth just to pass from one aristocracy to another? 

Times have changed.

Today, we have grown so accustomed to political doublespeak, duplicity, pandering and posturing that we would reject common sense as naïve and out of touch if we were fortunate enough to be presented with it.

We have been bullied into believing that our world is too complex for common sense. 

Despite the wholesale failure of modern economics to account for the fundamental role of labor in the global economy, we are sold an economic system that impoverishes the vast majority of people (the workers) while it enriches the nonproductive elite.

We are not fools. We know why the plants closed down. We know where the jobs went. We know why the company no longer feels obliged to provide health and retirement benefits or even decent wages. We understand that corporations are international and they will go where labor makes no demands.

We know that nothing will change until the rights of labor and living wages are extended beyond the boundaries of Europe, Japan and America, no matter how often the well-heeled, institutional experts tell us we are naïve.

To believe otherwise defies common sense.

We are told that international affairs are beyond the comprehension of ordinary citizens yet the vaunted brain trusts who have controlled international relations for decades have delivered a perfectly imbalanced nightmare of imperial war, civil turmoil, perpetual conflict and genocide.

They told us we had to go in to Iraq because it was too dangerous to stand apart and now they tell us we have to stay in because it is too dangerous to get out.

We know a Catch 22 when it grips us by the throat. We are the ones who have to pay for the war. Our soldiers pay in blood and everyone else lays down the credit card. Call in the chips and we’re all homeless.

It defies common sense.

We have allowed our political wise guys to dismiss as sophomoric the notion that democracy is a value that should not be compromised. Two consecutive presidential elections have delivered disputed results, tainted by corruption and disenfranchisement, yet election reform remains a low priority and the absurdity of the Electoral College remains an untouchable institution.

It defies common sense.

The people may have been denied an adequate free and equal education but we are neither stupid nor ignorant. We are confronted by some of the most critical issues not only in the history of the nation but of the world. We know heart and soul that polygamous sects and pedophile priests and border crossings and runaway brides and other human tragedies are not worthy of the attention they receive.

We understand that the merchants of mainstream media are instruments of the corporate elite and that a significant part of their jobs is to distract and mesmerize us so we do not complain or rise up in protest.

We may suffer from a lack of hope but we do not lack for common sense. We understand that the leading problems of the day are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the environmental destruction of the planet, an economic system that enriches the corporate masters while impoverishing the masses, food and water shortages, gas and energy costs, the availability of adequate health and medical care, unscrupulous financial institutions and corporate corruption.

When someone stands up and talks to us about our real problems, talks to us as if we were adults capable of understanding, talks to us with common sense, we will listen.

Until then, we will wait.

Image Courtesy of WikiMedia



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You are here:   The FrontPageColumnistsUnited StatesJack RandomThe Common Sense Lament: (Waiting for an Honest Leader)