By PAUL J. BALLES | South Lebanon, March 31, 2009
The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once quipped that a person is not conscious of his or her little toe until the shoe pinches. Likewise, one typically is not conscious of an event or situation that can have great impact on one’s life until it has a direct affect.
In an article I wrote in September 2007 on “Overcoming the apathy, fear and listlessness of Americans“, I pointed out that, “liberties and freedoms may be squeezed … but until ‘the shoe pinches’, the squeezing won’t hurt most people enough to get them to act”. In short, most people pay little, if any, attention to politics, social issues, environmental problems, economic concerns or military events until they hurt directly.
The things that are now painfully connected to the recent financial crisis in America include health care costs that people are unable to meet, home foreclosures, job losses, excessive credit debt and loss of pay.
Is it possible that an economic catastrophe in America might have a surprisingly positive effect? An article by Jane Stillwater entitled “Our dual-citizenship Congress” suggested an unforeseen result that could be very good for the whole world.
First, Jane’s article reveals that the shoe is pinching ordinary Americans. She writes:
I turned on the television last night and listened to the local news anchor tell me, “The State of California is currently facing bankruptcy.” I live in California.
This is not good news. Plus California’s jobs are drying up, homes are being foreclosed on, stores are going out of business, schools are laying off teachers, banks are eliminating branches. The eighth-largest economy in the world is about to tank. Boy could we use some financial help from the feds.
Then, after asking, “But will we get it?” she concludes, “Probably not.” While California and other states are not receiving bailouts like the banks that will help ordinary people, Jane concludes:
But Congress still continues to enthusiastically pour billions of our taxpayers’ dollars into the Israeli economy each year. What’s with that? Do our Congressional representatives hold dual citizenship with the United States and Israel or what? When are they going to stop voting pork for Israel and start voting bailout money for CA?
Are we Californians going to have to start firing Qassam rockets at Washington to get their attention or what?
After getting Jane’s permission, I sent her article to my Congressman and cc’d it to everyone I know in California. The next day, I received several comments that echoed Jane’s complaint. Why are we continuing to send US taxpayer money to support Israel’s slaughter of innocents in Gaza while we don’t have enough money to support our own economy?
My daughter wrote, “It infuriates me to think that they are spending our tax $$$ for Israel instead of our own country and state. Yes, we are feeling the pain of it too!”
Her husband, a fire captain in Southern California, has just lost 10 per cent of his pay due to the governor’s budget cuts.
How can this possibly have a positive outcome? The economic crisis in both state and federal budgets has already pinched many shoes. Americans are very upset at the damage done to their financial conditions.
If enough people feel the pinch and connect the dots between their own financial losses and America’s continued unbridled support of Israel’s devastating war machine, Israel could be forced to make peace with the Palestinians.
How could that happen? Israel would no longer be able to ignore the Arab peace initiative first proposed in 2002 that offers pan-Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from lands captured in 1967.Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see http://www.pballes.com.