The Fall of the Economy and the Rise of the Death Saint

These are heady days, what with the parade of newly elected officials peeing on the trees, fence posts and leather chairs of government to mark their territories. The air is full of their triumphant mating cries and depending on which side you prefer, their voices are either hymns of hope or funeral dirges. I always wonder if the reason inaugurations are held in winter is because the smell of such activities is so far less noticeable then in the balmy days of spring but then again, the noise seems to carry further on the crisp air.

By springtime it will be hard to remember who promised what as the reality of taking any kind of action to “fix” the economy sets in.

Maybe it is ironic that crows seem to be falling out of the sky all over the world. Maybe the natural world is trying to express itself metaphorically to the human world. However, we still do not seem to be inclined to listen and learn, much less even consider.

Much less to even look at what is happening because of similar choices in budgeting from our neighbors across the sea, the European Union and China.

It is safe to say that the majority of our woes have arisen from a culture of unrealistic investment and expenditures on a massive scale. One can only support a fantasy for so long before it falls apart. Never mind corruption, never mind unwieldy and bloated governments – all of that goes without saying – whether it is a free market, a dictatorship, an attempt at a socialist utopia or the smallest neighborhood organization – groups that profess to lead eventually become more concerned with the survival of the group versus the well being of those they purport to be leading and helping. It is a case of the snake eating its tail and forming an endless and repeating cycle.

Which is why this culture of bailing out countries and governments is so very frightening. Debt is frightening. There is not one whit of sense in cutting funding (no matter how bloated, corrupt or unwieldy the service) to try to cover a debt that was caused by someone else’s irresponsibility or life of fantasy and at the same time raising funds to the same institutions that created the problem without any realistic expectation of change. Pouring money into a hole, as any boat owner will tell you, is not a solution, changing course is. Boat owner’s will tell you also that when a boat is threatened with sinking, throwing the crew over board is not how you regain buoyancy, throwing the things that once seemed so needed overboard is. The crew is needed to sail the boat. The cargo, in reality, is not as important as the potential to sail again.

Iceland did that earlier this year. When their government pledged to bail out and make good on the disaster their banks had created, the people, 90% of them, voted to “just say no.” They said, ‘Let the banks fail and let the people who invested, knowing there was risk and lacking and surety of funds being covered, take their lumps. The alternative that had been presented to them was to increase their national debt, which meant that every man, woman and child in Iceland would acquire a $15,000 automatic debt in order to bail out those banks. Their government, of course, proposed austerity – cutting services to the people – to raise the money to lessen the personal debt amount.

This makes about as much sense as taxing cigarettes and using the tax to fund anti-smoking campaigns, or taxing alcohol and using the funds to provide for treatment for alcoholics. But this is the world we live in. We create and sustain problems and our methods of “treating” them are only a subtler means of deepening them.

There is a motion to begin treating repayment of loans and debts in the same manner that they had to be approached after WWII when the entire world was in a recession. Instead of guaranteeing full amounts, the repayments are limited to pennies on a dollar to never exceed 5% of a country GDP to avoid harming the populations further and to allow for regrowth. It is a willful “giving up” of the illusion that things can go on as they have always been and is a tightening of belts that most effects the people who participated in the creation of the debt and failure and not the people who then suffered from it.

Debt is feared.

Debt is feared by the so-called “little people” because they know how easy it is to lose what little you have that you have struggled and worked for and this fear is played upon by the culture of politics and corporations that has become indistinguishable no matter which economic policy you adhere to. Just look at the new wave of Republicans, who are they consulting to formulate their economic plans? Big businesses. Just look at the Democrats, who are they seeking an increase in the debt ceiling to bail out? Big business.

Big businesses fail. When governments are little more than businesses well, they run the risk of failing too. Business fail when the idea of the business surviving becomes more important then the quality or services that they provide. They also fail when they remain stubbornly committed to products and services that are not profitable to the survival of the company but only to their major shareholders. In America, our sole remaining business is War. There is no two ways around that, look at the budget. Budgets will tell you where the emphasis of the company is – for us, it is War and sustaining positions in bureaucracy.

We are told that both preserve and encourage the economy while being told that the very society they profess to protect and nurture is now going to bear the brunt of paying the debt created by those industries that 98% of the population neither is employed by nor gains any benefit from. In other words, in an advertising sense, everyone is trying to create a market of these two products despite the fact that there is no sustainable market for them. The quintessential product of this “company” was the Hummer. The Hummer was an attempt to make Big War a desired product and status symbol among consumers. It ended up being ridiculed and failing.

As far a niche marketing though, it has been successful to a degree. Just look at Al-qaeda. Al-qaeda could have all the global effect of a Furby, here one year and on e-bay the next but it represented a chance to create a broader and sustainable market for war. Now it’s kind of like a hula-hoop. It doesn’t go away, just surges occasionally with popularity, typically around consumer buying times with people trying to repackage it to gain the sustainability of the Beatles franchise.

Businesses that are in fiscal trouble or failing do not hire people. They do not create jobs. They occupy spaces in which new businesses could grow who have more flexibility in responding to a new market. Shoring up businesses, no matter how mythically perceived to be necessary or  “too-big-too-fail” would not help the economy. Making it harder for people in need to survive will not encourage them to spend.

It makes people wary. It makes them hold on to what they have and find ways, a la the business model, to do more with less.

It is no small wonder that the cult of Santa Muerte, the Death Saint, is gaining popularity. This rogue saint, a personification of Death is represented as a Skeleton that is clothed so only the hands and skull are revealed. This represents that the nature of our lives is hidden, covered, but will always triumph. People pray to Santa Muerte to do things for them that more graciously fleshed saints will not do. People ask for realistic solutions: help me get out of jail, protect me from violence, let me find love and comfort. The Death Saint is not the saint of the confused, but of those for whom life exists in the realities of survival.

Help me find a job. Keep me from losing my home. Let my children be safe. Let me grow old and die without abuse or need. Let me feel good about my life.

Reality is beginning to be worshipped again, from the ground up. While those at the top, desperate not to lose the life they invented for themselves are trying to push the ceiling up. I hope to God they do not let the debt ceiling be raised. I hope to God that we as a nation default on our loans and promises and are forced to be accountable to what we have created. I hope to God that we finally are placed in a position to recognize the reality that we are not an influence, we are not a leading power and acting as if we were still is not only damaging us, but also damaging the global economy.

I hope that the primary agencies of this recession have to sit down to a large plate of crow, as the rest of us have been doing for almost two years now.

I am sick of listening to politicians and pundits who truly think that I am too stupid to think or can be distracted by shiny objects.

Ahhhhhh….there it is. Yes. Shiny objects.

Do you know what?

I am the crow and I am choosing to fall from the sky because I am tired of battering my head against other people’s castles in the sky that do nothing but prevent air and light from coming into my life and I am sick of trying to fly around them.

The crow is the harbinger of Death, a psycho pomp. And all these crows falling are a sign that the Santa Muerte is walking down towards Earth, dressed in the robe of the Seven Powers. I, for one, choose to greet her when she lands.

c.2011 Cassandra Tribe All Rights Reserved.

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About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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