What Did You Learn in 2020?

Source: NationalPriorities.org Tradeoffs

Some of the things I learned in 2020 were useful and probably will remain so going forward. For example, how to produce videos (and plan for the time suck known as post-production). Others were interesting and useful at the time, but it’s unclear how they’ll apply to this Boomer’s future life. For example, how to win at British parliamentary style debate.

Some things I already knew but received much more evidence for in 2020:

A team of people collaborating with a common goal can accomplish more than any given individual can accomplish.

Distrust for authority will influence people to act against their own (and society’s) best interests when it comes to public health.

Pranksters were busy in 2020. Here are designs allegedly for Space Force which turned out to be a hoax (the Nazi-like uniforms, not the Space Force).

All space programs are fundamentally military programs.

Screenshots from Google News on the final day of December, 2020.

The ginning up of support for space programs both public and private is covert militarization of public sentiment. And probably a military recruiting tool as well.

The ginning up of support for nuclear power is also being done with military applications in mind.

Information conveyed by corporate-controlled organizations, including National “Public” Radio, manufactures consent for continued militarism and promotes ignorance about the forces driving our global climate emergency.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And government in the U.S. exists to make sure of it.

False dichotomy and the personification of everything are still the leading errors in thinking used to control the masses. My run for elected office was an attempt to use one to combat the other. Jury is still out on whether this can be done, and whether or not it is a beneficial approach.

Things I did not learn in 2020 but hope to make some progress on in the new year:

How to be most effective as an information worker in a corporatized, capitalized world that rapaciously consumes nature including humans. For example, is my time and energy working for an anti-racist transformation best spent lifting up marginalized voices, working to organize white supremacist-leaning working class, a combination of both, or something else altogether?

How to make my actions as effective as possible in realizing the better world that I know is possible. I’ve tried protesting, marching, rallying, civil resistance, speaking, writing for mainstream publications, blogging, meeting with elected officials, petitioning, social media posting, street theater, and door knocking. Also running for elected office, also lobbying at the state level and the federal level. I’ve joined some organizations and helped start others. Also spent some decades teaching for critical thinking which I have National Board Certification in.

Link to buy the book here.

While I ponder all this I’ll be promoting my first published book, something I need to learn how to do.

I will also will be facilitating education for a small pod at the preschool level. I could claim I’m doing that because I know for a fact that empowering young learners makes a positive difference in the world. But the truth is, I’m following my bliss.

And, while pondering, I’ll take on a local project to improve the community I’m temporarily living in. One I can do safely while observing covid protocols in a state that is telling people EMTs will no longer be able to send cardiac arrest patients to hospitals because California hospitals are maxed out on ICU beds for covid patients.

Something I’ve spent the end of 2020 doing is taking time to process my grief over the pandemic and its harms. 

I was so busy when it hit that I, of necessity, made accommodations for it but powered onward through my busy, busy days with taking time to grieve. 

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer “For health-care workers during COVID-19, the burnout is real, and it’s getting worse” Dec. 1, 2020  photo by Heather Khalifa

I’ll grieve for all the families who’ve lost someone. Grieve for all the health care workers strained to their breaking point. Grieve the greed that has killed millions forced to work in unsafe conditions without health care or sick leave from their jobs.

2020 has been so difficult that people have yearned for a new year to begin. 

I hope we don’t find a future so harsh that we look back on 2020 as the good old days.

The Clown Show Winds Down

The current occupant of the White House was known for his book The Art of the Deal long before the corporate press elevated him to be a contender for the presidency. I remembered this factoid as news reached me yesterday that, posturing aside, he did after all sign the gargantuan military spending bill connected with the insultingly paltry pandemic relief payment of $600 for the people. Also extending unemployment insurance and a freeze on evictions in the first winter of covid.

Clearly the threat to veto the bill until Congress amended the payment to $2000 was a bargaining chip in a deal that paid off somehow. 

We may or may not ever know what was exchanged in that transaction.

As our days fill with pardons of war criminals who slaughtered children and other civilians, plus white collar criminals, 2020 draws to a close.

Those observing with clarity point out that the current occupant of the White House was essentially the same as all the other occupants: beholden to the death machine of the US militarized economy, and unconcerned to keep the promises they rode to election.

The incoming administration will be no different.

Ending subsidies to fossil fuel extraction profiteers was a promise during the primaries that Democrats used to lure idealistic youth climate activists, but quickly abandoned to kick off the general election season.

Forgiving student debt (that he had a key role in fashioning as a yoke built to last a lifetime) was another grandiose promise now being reduced to ashes.

Or maybe dangling $2000 was meant to ensure the current president’s legacy remains strong among the struggling workers who still think he went to Washington DC to drain the swamp?

Here was his final “swamp draining” budget proposal.

70 million people voted for the clownish Twitter personality the second time around because the reality of their lives is deadly peril from threats more sure than succumbing to covid.

Covid is now the leading cause of death in the US, and will be for the near future even as vaccines roll out for Congress but not for most of us. 

Facing the dangers of a virus or of your job without health care has a huge impact on one’s ability to survive, but the corporate-sponsored House of Representatives won’t even consider a performative vote on Medicare for All much less legislation to enact universal health care. 

What show will ensue after the pageantry of the new president’s inauguration subsides?

Will the manufacturing of consent rest on the White House dogs who are vastly more telegenic than their elderly, addled master?

I’m betting it’s the good-looking, intelligent Vice President who will end up carrying this administration’s public relations efforts. As she is a woman and bi-racial, she is guaranteed to draw the vitriol of white supremacists losing their grasp on earning a living. (You know, the ones who voted for leaders that literally went golfing and skiing on Christmas without responding to the fact that a bomb was detonated in downtown Nashville.)

The show must go on! But most have tired of clownish “governing” and many in the younger generations actually find clowns terrifying.

Me? I’m older, and I find the incoming cabinet more terrifying than any clown. Ticking boxes for identity politics while elevating the executives of the very corporations who have murdered and impoverished working people is cynical. 

Yes, selecting Deb Haaland as the first Native Secretary of the Interior is wonderful and may she uphold indigenous wisdom in the Democratic Party (it’s hard to even type those words). I was also glad to see an actual educator, Miguel Cardona,  nominated to head up the DOE. 

Speaking of the art of deals, how about a former small town mayor who parleyed stepping down after a modest primary showing into a nomination for Secretary of Transportation. But he’s openly gay! That will be a great comfort to liberals in the owning class who bemoan climate crisis while supporting elected officials who consistently fail to invest in a robust public transportation system to address climate like other countries have.

And you can’t blame the clownish performance of the defeated president for any of that.

Revised 12/30/20: Correcting my misunderstanding that the current occupant of the White House’s veto of the military spending bill (aka NDAA) remains in place until a vote in Congress to overrride occurs. The pandemic stimulus/relief bill was signed, and the $2000 counteroffer by the deal artiste was also found to contain provisions for contesting certification of the electoral college victory of his opponent.