The rapidly shrinking middle class is a danger sign.
The FIRE economy (finance, insurance, real estate) - is roughly 70% of the total American economy. That is another danger sign.
For an in depth look at our service economy, may I point you to my previous 2009 article: here and here). The second link describes the current financial crisis, although if you want to keep up to date I heartily recommend nakedcapitalism.com.
The ever growing gap between the elite, richest 1% (or less) of our rulers and the rest of us is another red flag - peruse this article as a short primer.
The insane (if you are a patriotic citizen, less so if you are a member of the oligarchy and kleptocracy) Supreme Court ruling that equates money as free speech and takes away any restrictions from giving money to politicians - a huge fucking red flag.
After this ruling, not just private persons can donate as much as they want to a politician (from a president on down), but corporations (after all, they are people too!) and foreign countries (although they do it through intermediaries, because it would look bad if a politician accepts Israeli, Saudi, Iranian or Chinese money directly).
Bribery has been institutionalized and legalized.
And yes, I was (and am) so angry at this decision of our SupCourt that I am physically shaking - heck, I even wrote an article about it (aptly titled What the fuck Supreme court), and as you know blogging is not the top of my agenda.
If I write about something that means that I need to vent.
And so we come to this, the final danger sign, the red flag which took me over the edge of my madness, which can be cured with either frothing at the mouth and getting drunk or writing here (I already have drunk a bit, it is the weekend after all...).
NO PAY, NO SPRAY, being a tale of the end times in America, with the subtext of the triumph of libertarian ideology in the heartland.
Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn't paid a $75 fee.
Gene Cranick of Obion County and his family lost all of their possessions in the Sept. 29 fire, along with three dogs and a cat.
"They could have been saved if they had put water on it, but they didn't do it," Cranick told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.
The fire started when the Cranicks' grandson was burning trash near the family home. As it grew out of control, the Cranicks called 911, but the fire department from the nearby city of South Fulton would not respond.
"We wasn't on their list," he said the operators told him.
Firefighters did eventually show up, but only to fight the fire on the neighboring property, whose owner had paid the fee.
"They put water out on the fence line out here. They never said nothing to me. Never acknowledged. They stood out here and watched it burn," Cranick said.
The fee for this service is $75 paid per year.
Which seems relatively cheap, until you add up the number of houses that pay, and if you move your grey matter in your noggin and come to the conclusion that this is extortion.
Poland: libertarian dreamland
Poland, being a somewhat saner country in some respects (but not others), has a tax funded fire department nationwide.
However, a similar extortion principle is applied to the so called security firms.
A town is divided into zones which fall into a given firm's area of protection.
For an annual fee, which an house owner pays monthly, a security firm pledges to protect the house and the rest of the property on the land.
A person I know made a scene, told off the two gentlemen who came to his door once he moved in, and told the nicely uniformed men (equipped with batons, gas sprayers and walkie talkies) to fuck off.
A few days later his house was broken into and vandalized as he was coming back from work.
He noticed that a block away a small group of the security firm men were congregated, watching the vandals/thieves.
Exasperated, he asked them why they did not do anything.
They told him, in polish, their version of "no pay, no spray".
The police, by the way, told him that they are sending a squad car, but that he REALLY should deal with the local security firm which protects that part of the town, because, you see, they are REALLY busy.
He paid the next day, and the security men, in uniforms, brought back most of his stuff a few days later.
Almost as if they knew where it all went...
"Anybody that's not inside the city limits of South Fulton, it's a service we offer. Either they accept it or they don't," said South Fulton Mayor David Crocker.
No pay, no spray.
After the blaze, South Fulton police arrested one of Cranick's sons, Timothy Allen Cranick, on an aggravated assault charge, according to WPSD-TV, an NBC station in Paducah, Ky.
Police told WPSD that the younger Cranick attacked Fire Chief David Wilds at the firehouse because he was upset his father's house was allowed to burn.
WPSD-TV reported that Wilds was treated and released.
Bonus two: the defense antes up
A rural Tennessee fire chief says Obion County firefighters are being unduly demonized for letting a man's home burn because he hadn't paid a $75 municipal fee.
"The fault is the failure of Cranick family not to pay that subscription," Reavis said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon, surrounded by other county fire officials and mayors.
"The same thing could have happened anywhere" among three Obion County municipalities that rely on subscription fees to cover rural areas outside their cities' borders. Hornbeak and four others do not require subscriptions. The eight cities' provide protection as the county does not operate its own fire department, Reavis said, but 85 percent of fire responses are in rural areas.
85% you say... ?
Across the county, no cities' tax dollars fund rural fire protection, he said. That's common in many U.S. rural areas, Reavis said, although the notion is not necessarily widely known among people living in urban areas.
And what does this fount of wisdom and sanity, glenn beck, think of this?
Radio and TV talk show host Glenn Beck defended the fire department letting Cranick's home burn down.
"If you don't pay your $75 then that hurts the fire department," Beck said in response to the blaze. "They can't use those resources and you would be sponging off of your neighbor's $75 if they put out your neighbor's house and you didn't pay for it."
"As soon as they put out the fire of somebody who didn't pay the $75, no one will pay the $75," he said.
Fair enough, if you are a libertarian/extreme right wing leaning psychopath who believes that if you are dying from blood loss, laying on a street corner and are picked up and carried into the ambulance by two trained professionals... who promptly drop the bleeding you back onto the pavement, because you have no insurance and did not "pay to live".
Nobody like a free loader.
Cranick and his family lost all of their possessions in the Sept. 29 fire, along with three dogs and a cat.