11 October 2008

The Culture Wars.

What follows is more or less the ramblings of a woman who can't fall asleep. Take it however you will.

(And as a consequence of this sleeplessness I've done a lot of reading of the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Economist and my favorite salmon-coloured [sic] missive, The Financial Times. )

After dinner with a friend who was in town from New Hampshire, I started the later part of this evening by opening the quarterly review of my retirement portfolio. I was on the phone with my mother and she said, "Don't open it until Sunday afternoon. Don't ruin your weekend!"

My response? "I'm young. I'll recover."

What followed next?

"Shit! It has lost 20% of its value, Mom!"

"I told you not to open it until Sunday afternoon." She didn't even comment on the expletive.

"I heard on NPR that I should just absorb the shock of the loss and remember that my stocks will regain their value."

After hanging up with my mother, I started reading more about this election that I'm becoming less and less enchanted with. At least reading about the election turned my worries from being a single older lady with no retirement funds.

I read about rallies where participants are yelling "Kill him!" in reference to Mr. Obama. Calling someone a 'socialist' is one thing, but "Kill him?" I thought of moments where Mr. McCain is looking less and less like the candidate I thought he might be--a respectable, level-headed and formidable candidate to Mr. Obama. I shook my head thinking about even more moments where Mrs. Palin is seeming less like a victim of political circumstance, but more and more like a thoughtless, ruthless pagent participant.

(As an aside, her inarticulateness and her inability (during a live interview) to name a newspaper or book that she has read scares me. She was a journalism major, right? And as a further aside, why in the world has the culture of mediocrity prevailed? I want ELITE physicians, attorneys, professors, teachers, pilots, military personel, police offiers, firefighters, stockbrokers, engineers, architects, musicians, secretaries, sports players, actors, politicians. Damn it, I call for ELITE everything in my world. What's so damned wrong with that?)

And so, this late evening, I longed for a good conversation with my favourite [sic] British stockbroker because his brand of conservatism while sometimes annoying to me, is at least thoughtful and smart. He is a conservative cut from the best bespoke London tailor's cloth--he is the finest gray wool. He is an elitist, an extremely well -educated, tall, well-built lovely snob (and an excellent rugby player) and very proud of it.

If you are an O'Rourkian conservative or a Bucklian conservative, (most of) you have a seat at my table and I'll serve you a G&T. You can criticize Mr. Obama's and Mr. Biden's policies until you exhaust yourself, as long as we can shake hands at the end of our discussion and you don't point a finger saying "THAT ONE fails to understand pure, unadulterated, sexy capitalism."

I think I might understand capitalism--in the housing market at least--a little too well. I blame everyone (even myself) for what happened to me. I should have taken Economics in college. I should have been more interested in money. I didn't care enough about it. I thought loving what I studied would be enough. For that, I am a damned fool. It clearly wasn't enough. I should have cared about both things. Perhaps I'd be in a very different place now if I had.

I ended up using my rhetorical skills (and a nice lawyer as an editor) to make a deal with a bank to right (what is in my mind) a major wrong in one of their investments, and I'm landing on my feet. I will not be homeless. I know that I'm lucky. I'll keep going to work--God willing and the creek don't rise.

I am not too sure about the point of this post, but I know that in the next month there will be plenty of culture wars about which to think and to write. So the Culture Wars--both the blog and its subject matter--soldier on for now.


Casey said...

This is a long comment, but I can't sleep either. Deleting it won't hurt my feelings.

As an aside:

The reason behind the wave of anti-elitism, generally in more libertarian minded states, can probably be explained by numerous events of mind-blowing stupidity foisted upon people by the well meaning and well educated. It was well educated physicians, back in the days when doctors were most definitely elite, that began forcibly sterilizing Puerto Ricans. It was the elite military officers that abused and in some cases killed enlisted men with their ineptitude in the wars that once were so great a part of most American men's lives for so many years. Elites have a fairly bad record of not getting the proletariat killed in some form of jackassery or another.

Maybe it's more the acknowledgment that there really is no elite. Just dressed up psuedosupermen.

Obviously, geography plays a key role as well. Things like water grabs and federal wildlife management leave a nice strong stinging welt in the minds of most Western locals.

I personally struggle with the pervasive nature of middle class mediocrity. I also struggle with my own ambition to escape it. I consider myself a fairly staunch anti-elitist, but I also can't bring myself to read Stephen King or Entertainment magazine. I also can't stand to hear a word that comes out of Palin's dimpled face.

I hate it, but I think I'm swinging toward That One. He passes the barstool and the ship captain test in my head.

That, and I worked with naval aviators. I hate those fuckstick elitists.

Lord Chimmy said...

Being an elitist when it comes to performance is a good thing. You want Joe Kickass (rather than Joe Sixpack) performing your brain surgery.

But, being an elitist when it comes to how you fare in regards to class & rank? That's just snobbery.

I know the opposition likes to call Obama an elitist, but I don't see it. In fact, I see these comments as veiled racism.


Sorry to hear you lost 20%. My dad lost 40%. I lost 0%. But, I didn't have a retirement fund in the first place.

Megarita said...

Yeah, my brother lost about 80%, but he's a wee babe still. I refuse to open any envelopes from my portfolio until after Christmas.

I'm over the election now, too. I've had too many awful conversations with people I thought I understood and could converse with. Thank goodness for early voting. I'm officially checking out.

And I don't think you're particularly to blame for the housing slump. I know because I have a list. An elitist list? Nah, just a well-educated, serious, thoughtful series of conclusions.

Jackart said...

I'm not an excellent rugby player. I play fat-boy wheezy rugby for the 4th XV.

But thanks...