Prof. George Carlin. Courtesy photo

FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS

But, we live in the first world. I don’t take that for granted and am so thankful for it every day. Where you’re born is a matter of chance (or cosmic destiny if you will, but I’ll go with chance), that makes a life or death difference, literally feast or famine. Am I looking for a better condo or car, or food and safe water for my family, every day? Better shoes, or any shoes? Having a vaccine for coronavirus, or worried sick that malaria, TB or some diarrheal disease (all of which we have defeated in the first world) will take my family?

Do people die of starvation in the US? Yes. Is there hunger? You bet. 38M experience hunger and food uncertainty, every day. In America.

But what’s this got to do with Best Buy? Well, I’ll tell you. Hang on.

I found a color coded map of the world, for statistics on malnutrition death rates. The US is in only the second lowest category! In all the Americas, only Guatemala and Haiti are in the worst category. Canada, not the US, earns the only gray coloring, with the lowest malnutrition death rate. Canada is cool in every way. If only it wasn’t so cold.

FRANCE, ICELAND AND NORWAY

Join Romania and the Czech Republic in Europe in that next-best category of malnutrition mortality. Notable because every other country in Europe is solid gray. Guess who also gets a commendable gray? Vietnam! Another surprise, perhaps: Russia and all the former USSR bloc, now independent nations, are all in the highest category for least malnutrition. Maybe there is something to this socialism thing…

The point is, America could do so much better. It’s not a matter of supply but of political will. We have known for a long time that there is enough food to feed everyone. Imagine. No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people, sharing all the world…

IMAGINE

The UN estimates that about 9M people die of starvation every year, and that it would take only a $90B contribution from developed countries to wipe that out, among 700M of the world’s most vulnerable. Two-thirds of that could be provided by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, leaving a paltry balance, divided up. Think of that.

Charles, why are you bummin’ me out? Last column you reminded us the planet is burning up, flooding, and more. If Congress doesn’t pass both humane infrastructure bills, we will soon look back and find that insane. A victorious Gov. Newsom is now leading the charge with very big budget numbers for a clean and safe CA future, and I say yeah. Our City Council now has a fighting chance to do some good with a new balance since the last election. Look on the bright side, will ya?

OK grasshopper. But the divided Dems in DC who want to save us are facing stiff opposition from a GOP that could take over again next year. Newsom’s needed programs may not get through a greedy, small minded legislature. And locally many see only a snail’s progress in attacking our huge problems, due to entrenched politics and business as usual. Urgency is upon us like never before, but on all levels many are acting like we’ve got years. We don’t.

WHAT’S BEST BUY GOT TO DO WITH IT?

Symptomatic, I feel. I have a young friend, mid-20s, who votes, and votes the right way but is completely discouraged and disgusted with the system. Like many in his generation, he believes the time for glacial reform is long gone. Can you blame him? Because if we “progress” addressing our existential crises at the current rate, we’ll have to pray Elon Musk can get us to Mars colonies fast enough to look back at an Earth taken over by the cockroaches.

Business as usual is planetary suicide. State and city too. My young friend, even though a staunch fan of Bernie from the get go, doesn’t even want to hear about Democratic Socialism because he feels capitalism is the enemy, period.

I refer you to the collected works of our greatest 20th century philosopher and political thinker, George Carlin. He was hilarious back then because deep down we didn’t really believe him. But now…

I recently ran smack dab into a prime example. Our 22-year-old refrigerator gave up the ghost in August and we ordered a new one from Best Buy. Six weeks. What!? But the same was true everywhere.

I understand, the supply chain is messed up, there are 50-100 ships waiting outside LA Harbor, to unload. But here’s where the evils of our system become evident, in this small, everyday situation.

Best Buy gave us a date of Oct. 4, between 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. We’re living out of a cooler, refilling the ice twice a day, six weeks now. The Big Day arrives! I get an email at 9:17 that says, so personably, “Charles, your agent is on the way!…arrive approx. 9:30 a.m.”

NO AGENT WAS ON THE WAY

No, no, no, that was a big fat lie. And a stupid one, because it would very soon be shown to be a lie. But corporations can be stupid and inhumane and not suffer any accountability or consequences, so why not?

I simultaneously get another email that is a receipt for the goods and services (not yet) provided, already paid for, one new Frigidaire delivered, one old one hauled away.

An hour later I’m suspicious and try to call. Probably 60-70 tries, every number I can find. Best Buy has made it impossible to talk to a human being, for any reason. Finally my wife goes over in person and waits in line and gets Sumia, bless her heart, the one person there who seems bright enough to be competent and human enough to care. Meanwhile I miraculously get through to a Best Buy national phone rep who seemed genuinely appalled at my experience and tried for a good 30 minutes to try to reach someone who could help, but then an incoming call cut us off. Even though she took my number “in case we get cut off,” she did not call back.

A subsequent email from Best Buy announces they had now set us up for delivery Nov. 18. Another six weeks! I see a pattern here. Keep issuing six week delivery appointments until you can finally make one of them. I have zero confidence I will have a refrigerator from them even by Nov. 18, which is totally unacceptable.

How does this tie in to our political situation? It’s part and parcel. American government is not separate from American business; one is supposed to regulate the other but it’s reversed. Corporations own Congress through campaign contributions, favors and outright graft, and you don’t even have shares in that business, folks. Make something up to keep people quiet, with no intention of doing it, make yourself unavailable, untouchable, repeat cycle, no accountability. What are they going to do? Ha ha ha ha ha. Santa Monica, Sacramento, Washington DC.

If Bernie can’t take charge, how about Greta?

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com