There are humans walking our planet – many of them exuding something which resembles intelligence – who firmly believe that on December 21, 2012, the world as we know it will end.
You see, the Mayans – a Mesoamerican civilization which began around 2,000 BC, were skilled astronomers and apparently had a thing for calendars. They also enjoyed human sacrifice and a Ball Game in which the losers were executed, but that’s another story. Quite a few people believe that since the Mayan Long Count Calendar ends on this perspicacious date, this signals an Apocalypse, a cataclysm, and just about everything else The Jehovah’s Witnesses have been saying for years. Of course, 12/21/12 only meant the end of a calendar cycle, but I don’t want to step on the toes of Bunker Builders, who are making a cool fortune from the End Of Days.
My question, perhaps shouted over a lonely stepped pyramid in Tikal, is this: who the hell needs Mayans to signal John of Patmos’ Prophesies? Let’s look at the facts: The American Dynasty is coming to an end – Chinese leaders are confident they will overtake us, and we are helping as much as possible: offshoring jobs, building just about everything where labor makes the equivalent of $200/month, and selling landmarks like Rockefeller Center to Japan. God forbid, this is not a racist rant – it’s more of a Socialist one, in which we, the Capitalists, are in fact selling the rope that will hang us (with thanks to the smart Marx Brother).
Our greed has led to the toppling of Wall Street, Big Banks, and the housing market (well, the first two would have toppled if the Feds hadn’t helped out. The last, being owned by normal people, is permitted to implode and create massive foreclosures and homelessness). This Recession ain’t ending – oh no, fasten your seatbelt. Unemployment in Los Angeles has sunk from 12% in 2008 to 11% now: makes you want to throw a tickertape parade in front the Hollywood Sign, doesn’t it?
Here’s a cheery headline from the Web: “2012 Real Estate Predictions Massive Increase In Foreclosures in 2012.” In fact, there might be as many as 9 million, at a loss of $500 billion. So despite cheery pronouncements to the contrary, from those who have something to gain (Presidential candidates; The Fed), The Great Recession is still with us. As long as this country no longer manufacturers anything (that’s for companies in the Third World), no longer provides jobs (did you know you can have your X-rays read in India?), and pretends that corporations are people, we will fly through collective denial toward the last Big Bang, with nary a Mayan in sight.
Yes, there is the rest of the world (we Americans like to forget about them). Greece is in a state because after massive government spending, the poor folks (as always) must be the ones to tighten their belts and embrace “austerity.” India has a huge deficit and Latin America is dependent on China, which is letting them down (in commodity prices). Europe’s in the shitter and even Iceland blew up! What’s next: they foreclose on penguins in Antarctica?
But the Horsemen will not ride based on economics alone. Belief – in God, Congress (not to confuse the two), politicians, one another – has got to be at an all-time low. Everyone hates everyone else. The rich hate the poor. The poor hate the government. Everyone hates the Kardashians. Who needs The Hunger Games? Panem et Circenses are already here: bread in the form of food stamps, now received by 45 million; circuses in the form of various species of Housewives.
Kids can’t afford to go to college. The UC campuses, in my day true public schools, have raised their tuition by 18% this year, and UCLA now costs nearly $13,000/year. When I went, jostling with dinosaurs to get into Ackerman Union, that cost was $1,200 – including books. I know, there is such a thing as inflation but current costs are insane as incomes continue to stagnate. In this world, you can’t get a decent job without a degree, but you graduate shouldering an average of $25,000 in student debt. Fun way to start out, huh? Maybe we should put these kids in the Mayan Ball Court, and whoever wins gets a job.
Activism against the 1% has had the resounding pfffffffttt of a dying balloon. Instead of coming together, the Occupy forces reject a leader and make Progressives look like hippy-dippy morons who dress as sea turtles. Please, I’ve seen them at the WTO Battle In Seattle. As I was running from tear gas, I thought: what are we accomplishing? As it turned out, absolutely nothing. Anarchists smash the windows of a Starbucks: the next day, the windows are fixed and the anarchists go home to Eugene. Where is our Lenin when we need him? (and I mean one without the Red Terror, a nice one, like a Bolshevik Santa).
In sum, we needn’t conjure up Mayans as the Boogeymen of our times. We’ve reached Apocalypse all by ourselves. So if, on December 21, 2012, the world explodes with a bang and not a whimper, I will be surprised. Because it is all the little whimpers we’ve permitted – in terms of greed, uncaring, wars of choice – that will add up to one big bang. Without a Mayan in sight.