Make-Believe America

A flight of fancy

W.J. Astore

We lose a lot of imagination as we become adults. We become limited. I remember playing make-believe as a kid, when the only limits were those of my imagination. As adults, we’re supposed to be hardheaded and realistic, perhaps even cold-hearted. The world’s tough; don’t be a dreamy fool. But what if we used a bit more imagination in America? What if we returned to the days of make-believe?

Here’s a few aspects of my make-believe America:

* All workers make a living wage with raises pegged to the rate of inflation and cost of living.

* Everyone has “free” health care as a human right.

* Everyone has a home of some sort, i.e. there are no homeless or “unhoused” people living in the streets.

* Prison populations are small, with only the most violent offenders locked away for long terms.

* Climate change, recognized as a problem in the 1980s, is being controlled with massive investments in renewable energy sources.

* Nuclear disarmament, begun with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, will be complete in 2021 after thirty years of dedicated effort.

* No one leaves school with massive amounts of student debt.

* Corporations are not citizens, money is not speech, and all political campaigns are publicly funded.

* Wars are universally reviled and are only fought for defensive purposes via a Congressional declaration. Thus America hasn’t fought a shooting war since 1945.

* The U.S. political scene has a range of “major” parties and a wealth of choices, including a socialist or people’s party and a Green party, along with Libertarians and Populists and Progressives.

* The top priority for most Americans is sustainability and the environment: preserving the planet for future generations.

* There is no such thing as a billionaire, since a progressive tax code ensures an equitable distribution of resources.

* People are respected for who they are and what they do, meaning that racism, sexism, ageism, and other forms of discrimination are largely unknown.

* “Hero” is a term used to describe peacemakers and helpers, the most compassionate and giving among us, the ones fighting hardest for equal rights, fairness, and justice.

* Government is completely transparent to the people. Meanwhile, people have privacy and autonomy.

* Most drugs are legal, and essential medicines like insulin are affordable for all.

Well, I did say this was the land of make-believe. What do you say, readers? What’s in your land of make-believe?

16 thoughts on “Make-Believe America

  1. Sounds good to me though I don’t have a problem with billionaires except for how they get there. And that they pay taxes. Mr Bezos could lose 90% of his net worth and still be a billionaire.


  2. Bill, you have the qualifications to start and lead a new party with that reasonable and practical platform.

    Rick Wiles from that Christian conspiracy site, TruNews, is pondering a Presidential run with only 1 item of a platform so far, to seize all the Billionaire’s money and distribute it to the poor.

    Lately, he’s using Biblical Scripture to emotionally blackmail people to donate more money that already finances him living in a Florida gated Community.
    I watch his weekly daily Face Book broadcast he calls a Godcast, when it’s really Republican Political Propaganda cloaked in religious garb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ps – he blocked me from commenting since I call out his more virulent form of McCarthyism.
      He claims the The Democratic Party is owned by the Chinese Communist Party and the Billionaires are Communists. He does have a deluded following that eats it all up.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a wonderful flight; I agree with, believe in, and try to support each and every bullet point,
    no matter how fanciful–and would expand on a couple of them to dream of:
    Wholesale turning Swords (the MIC and our bloated dysfunctional military) into Plowshares (abolishing nuclear weapons, disarming most of the military and using all that highly organized infrastructure, support systems, and personnel repurposed to humanitarian services both domestically and internationally–
    Universal Healthcare, Infrastructure revisions, Global Climate Change/Energy
    I am of course even in my Liberal/Progressive family and colleagues/friends eyes,
    a bleeding-heart liberal/naïve dreamer which I take as both a compliment and a misnomer,
    since I’m outwardly a genial, worldly, actively-engaged 77y/o retired physician/psychiatrist,
    a Vietnam combat Vet (non-combatant Navy Battalion Surgeon with Marines ’69-70); I
    genuinely like living and most people, w/ close stable family, a grandfather of 3-soon-to-be-4
    granddaughters–but inwardly, after a 40-year practice of ever-progressing clinical work in
    Mental Health, Internal Medicine, 5 years with the VA, and seeing the directions we humans
    are taking since about 1950, I fear that we are a fatally-flawed species–our history as far back
    as we can trace it seems to always include species, racial, and gender conflict, endless attempts
    to establish dominance, hierarchical social structures that use and abuse allies and enemies,
    other living creatures, and the environment that sustains us.
    I’m a believer in Darwinian Evolution, so think it is inevitable that we are but the most recent
    strange creatures ( a bit more self-aware and cognitively adept than our immediate mammal
    predecessors), but not the last, to come out of the endless reiterations of the DNA
    Double Spiral Helix. We’re the only major more complex species, I believe, that throughout our history has sought, and practiced, ever-more-sophisticated ways to kill each other–not a formula
    for long-term sustainability.
    As a partial believer and student of Christianity, my only hope/dream would be that, never mind the theological triple-helix of the Trinity, more of us would read, contemplate, and follow
    Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount as recounted in Matthew’s Gospel in the New Testament.
    You may wind up sitting there shaking your head and sighing as I do (don’t hold your breath)
    realizing just how far we have gone in the opposite directions as a species.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. What’s always so frustrating to me is that all the laudable points you mention are not…NOT… behaviors that are physically or even particularly emotionally difficult, at least in most ‘western industrialized’ societies. None of them require years of study or a disciplined regimen of exercise or a genetic predisposition to brilliance — just a little semi-objective thinking and a dose of healthy skepticism. Unfortunately, there are a number of people who can make a lot of quick money by seeing that those things DON’T happen, and that’s where the ‘non-reality’ resides….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d add that just about all these issues have nothing to do with being liberal or conservative, left or right. Shouldn’t people have adequate pay, decent health care, affordable education, clean air and water, etc.? Who cares about their political affiliation or lack thereof?

      And most polls show support for these issues. The main problem is powerful entities that make money off of raping the earth, keeping wages low, denying health care, and so on. And they’ve largely bought the politicians because we accept that money is speech and greed is good and the richest people are the best, because naked capitalism = freedom. Well, it does for a tiny minority, I’ll grant you that.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Your right about the coin of the realm.
      75% of those dreams are gonna severely impact the oligarchs as they sleep on their money stuffed mattresses. What are sweet dreams for us will be nightmares for the well heeled!


  5. I’ll answer a bit later; I’m in no shape to answer now. I’ve got a bad case of the Foster Brooks … I got way too drunk on your dream…you sir are a great bartender!


  6. If I’m really dreaming, how about education that’s all about creative and critical thinking, along with character, civics, and citizenship?

    Training for a job will come on the job, not in school.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree about critical thinking, creativity, and civics, but there’s no reason that vocational training shouldn’t be offered. It’s a viable and valuable alternative to college. Vocational high schools have mostly [completely?] disappeared from the landscape, but in your dream society, they could be brought back, updated, and have their offerings expanded. Four hours a day focused on learning computers, or electronics, or business skills; or hands-on trades such as building and repair skills, cooking, home design, and so on; or artisan classes such as pottery-making, sculpting, drawing/painting, etc. (because in the dream society, art would be highly valued); then two hours spent with essential citizenship and critical thinking modules, with opportunities for general creativity courses.

      With such pre-training, if young people wanted to graduate high school and immediately be able to take up skilled positions, they’d be able to do so. Conversely, those who wanted to go to college to take up specialized studies in history, literature, anthropology, psychology, geology, biochemistry, or any other discipline could do that, as well. In the dream society, adding knowledge and understanding to the culture would be viewed as a desirable contribution, too. : )


  7. I’m going to call out the press on each of these dreams, and hopes for a more humane societal commons. Since each form of media that is mass manufactured in our nation has been purchased and is privately owned; we have no way of honestly defining and analyzing how each dream would slot into our social structure and what the outcome of their adoption would actually produce.
    There is no more free and independent development of ideas pro or con that would only be put forth to educate all of us; no matter the possible result. Today’s language is meant to manipulate outcomes, it is not produced to help foster and clear the pathways of understanding. To write words that are meant to assemble a pre determined outcome is to rob the reader of their freedom of choice. Anyone who calls themselves a reporter and practices the deceptions should understand they too are not free. They were ensnared by the design they penned before the letters hit the paper. Money makes them think and write and it is the reason they create their biased storylines. They are captured by a boss who ensnared them with a promise that is supposed to fulfill the needs of their desires. In the land of the free and the home of the brave I believe there is not one person of distinction in any of these privately owned news organizations that fits these descriptions called free and brave.
    How do I know this. Because not one of these topics has been taken up on a daily and nightly basis in their work. None of these wordsmiths and pretty faces have developed any of these wholly so that the subtlest nuance of each dream is well understood in the minds of the greatest to the least. The job of education through their craft has been abandoned and they are all failing the people of this nation mightily. None of these imposters have been steadfast in their task of making sure that the truth is well understood. None of them have even put breath to the whistle to give it a faint tweet. But we love our whistleblowers. Why? Because they are honestly telling a part of the story. But isn’t it interesting that they get maligned and silenced so that the small amount of facts they do reveal never sees the blackboards of education. Then these championships of the “ free and independent “begin to spin a yarn that blankets understanding and creates warm fuzzy emotional feelings but will never meet the real physical need; nor does it bring any relief to the stress the obfuscation creates. The press solves no problems but is elite at creating discord. I’m not a fan of the term “fake news” I much prefer Bulls*it Education. Bottom line for what I read… teach me something that will enhance my knowledge and create in me a desire to go further toward a wiser perspective.
    To the reporters who are captured by a salary, put your pens down, the test is over and pick up your grade on the way out the door. F …………………..
    for embarrassment !!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I want to pounce on your mention of stress caused by obfuscation. I certainly agree with your overall comments, but the term, “stress” really hit a nerve, so to speak. I just read an article that expounded on Orwell’s concept of doublethink, and I’d thought about how difficult it would be to consciously have to reconcile two diametrically opposite conditions, situations, etc. Of course, Orwell used black/white, and explained that achieving a state of doublethink meant, in the end, to believe without effort that black and white are both true descriptions of a given object. We humans do engage in that kind of thought process to some extent (e.g., wanting to keep children safe but wanting them to go their own way), but there’s usually room for nuance. Black and white, war and peace, liberty and slavery….not so much. One would think it would be literally mind-blowing to have to accept that something is both black and white.

      If the press is continually obfuscating—that is, there’s no accountability in terms of factuality—we hear one thing from one source and something completely opposite from another source. There’s no way to reconcile the two “truths.” We’re left to try to make sense of what we read and hear. Some resolve the tension by picking one source and believing whatever it says. Others don’t believe anything reported on the news. Still others engage in endless attempts to vet the various reports. Granted, some information reported as news makes more sense to a logically-oriented person than other information, recent current events being a prime example. Still, we’re stuck with the black/white conundrum unless we all adopt doublespeak.

      All this to say, Utejack, you’ve brought out a major cause of the relentless mental chaos that has gripped the entire world these days. If the press were honest, it would go a long way toward ending much of that strife.


  8. Your opening is so true. I love children and have six grandkids only two (ages 6 and 8) of whom I see regularly, the others being far away. I delight in seeing the kids because they are so imaginative, unpredictable and spontaneous. I make it a point to join in whatever they are interested in, feeding their imaginations with all kinds of outlandish ideas for them to chew on…are there animals on the moon? If so, why can’t we see them? Will a snowball keep forever in the freezer? Let’s try and see!

    I’ve got a reputation with them now…”Grampy lets us do anything!” At the same time I try to teach them to do things spontaneously, without being asked. Their mom and dad don’t let them pick up litter, so I have them hold a collection bag and direct me as I run around grabbing a cup they spot or a plastic bag blowing down the street. It’s fun as they are empowered to command an adult but know an adult would do it even if not commanded.

    Our society thinks anyone who is innocent and naive is a fool. The “wise” person is cynical and suspicious. How crazy to be trusting. Lock everything, keep an eye on everything. Always be safety conscious. Suspect the stranger, be wary of the smile. How many TV and movie plots involve the kindly person who turns out to be a maniac. Our minds absorb what they soak in. Rare is the home without a very big screen in the “living” room.

    I want to see the children remain the irrepressible delights they are as they become adults. I wish I could protect them in a bubble, but I know it cannot be, so I offer them all I can think of from the heart and the head, with no small amount of the silly mixed in, hoping I will have an impact by demonstrating the different ways one can look at the world and that one should always be active in it. I want to see them as fearless as they can be in this country that is suffused with fear. Let them grow up to see possibility in your list of desiderata.

    Liked by 2 people

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