Monday, September 6, 2010

This One's Easy...

From Rob Kall at OpEd News, link courtesy of Nunya:

...Obama and the Democrats were given historic powers-- a filibuster-proof majority in the senate, even. And they threw the power away. They wasted time, they made excuses. They were weak when they had to be strong. They sold out the middle class again and again.

So now, we have labor day for a skeletal working force. We have laws that allow, even encourage corporations to out-source jobs, not just low level jobs, but high-paying ones. No wonder there are millions of unemployed. No wonder the word is that those millions of jobs may never come back.

It used to be that labor day was a day to celebrate the worker. Perhaps now, we should seeing labor day as a memorial for the short time in American history when workers were honored and through their salaries and living wages, respected.

Perhaps, as David Letterman suggests, we should make Labor Day a celebration of the Chinese worker. Or maybe we should celebrate the worker in America before Bill Clinton signed globalization agreements like WTO and NAFTA, which, as Ross Perot accurately predicted, created that great sucking sound of millions of lost jobs.

I don't understand why the millions of unemployed have not rised up and made a lot of noise-- a hell of a lot of noise. Where are their spines? Have they been beated down so badly that they can't speak up, stand up and insist that the White House and congress do at least as good a job rescuing them as they did the banksters...

I do understand why there hasn't been a massive uprising over all those lost jobs. But before I get to that, I need to point out a couple other things.

First, this business of Obama and the Dems "selling us out." As Rob would say, bullshit. Remember all those people who celebrated in streets all over the country after it was announced that Obama had won the election? That was a big mistake on their part, not because Obama misled them over and over again during his campaign (he didn't, actually -- in fact, as politicians go, he's been surprisingly honest so far), but because when he spoke, his supporters tended to hear what they wanted to hear, whether or not it lined up with what he was saying. You can blame part of that on Obama's gift for eloquent and persuasive speech -- hell, even I was under that spell for a while after his more perfect union speech. That's one for the history textbooks. But I wasn't dancing in the streets that night in 2008, nor did I desire to dance. I was just glad the winner wasn't McCain, with that insufferably brainless Sarah Palin one cardiac arrest away from the Oval Office.

Yes, Obama has been disappointing for me in many ways, which I will not even bother to list -- contrary to certain common perceptions, I'm not into self-flagellation. But I don't go around saying he sold me out, for two reasons: 1) I simply don't feel that way, and 2) those who do feel that way would probably also get mad at W. C. Fields for suckering them. With Obama, we're getting pretty much what he told us to expect. He didn't trick his supporters; they tricked themselves.

And second, I don't like the fact that American workers are increasingly being treated like crap by American corporations any more than anyone else does, but you know what? This has been going on for at least thirty years. Not only that, millions of working-class Americans have taken this strange delight in it, manifested in large part by their record of voting Republican year after year, decade after decade, in flagrant violation of their own interests, and oblivious to their own stupidity.

I have stories about such people. Like "R. C." He was the working-class mechanic who once said to me, with a smile, "Unions are a thing of the past." Which is funny. See, if he'd had a union job with good pay, he might have been able to afford that five-figure boat he bought with money he didn't have -- the same boat he later tried to sell via roadside advertisement when money got tight. Or "D. K." the husband with three kids who complained about his mortgage payments but voted Republican because he was against abortion. Last I heard, he was up to four kids, he'd been laid off, and he'd lost his home. Probably voted for McCain two years ago anyway -- I've heard him use the N-word before, on top of everything else. Or "D. S." the completely-defeated-looking senior citizen, Rush Limbaugh devotee, and newly minted teabagger who called me a Communist because the books I've read include Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. No, really! Atlas Shrugged! The former book because since Zinn died, the FBI has released hundreds of pages from its files alleging Zinn may have been a Communist, so obviously I must be one too. And the latter book because I have yet to convert to teabaggery even after reading it, so somehow, in this guy's version of a mind, that makes me a card-carrying Commie.

Yeah, well, I've also read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. If you want to scare the hell out of yourself, give that one a read. And then ask me what I think of the teabaggers' and the Far Right's opinions. You can bitch and holler all you want at me about how our leaders lie to us through their teeth. But if others want to be lied to, what can either of us do about it? Far as I can tell, not a goddamned thing.

Which brings me to Rob Kall's mystery. "Where are their spines?" he wonders of the millions of unemployed working-class Americans. My answer, in light of all the self-destructive activity I've seen among working-class Americans in the twenty-three years I've been one of them...

They have spines? Really?

They sure fooled me. Because they haven't used them for at least thirty years.

That's why there's been no uprising. They're too ashamed to show their faces in public. They know, on some level, that they've been played for fools so thoroughly for so long. And the part that kills me is, instead of using this as the opportunity for atonement now, good works later, redemption in the end, that it is, some of these people are going to keep right on doing what they've been doing, rationalizing it all away as best they can. Some of the people who get a taste of the path of least resistance just turn that into a habit, I don't know why -- these days, we call such people Republicans and teabaggers. What that's going to get us in November is anyone's guess.

But whatever happens, we deserve it. there's no escaping that...


  1. Barnum said "There's a sucker born every minute." Why W.C. Fields?

  2. Actually, Barnum didn't say those words; they were misattributed to him. But Fields did say, more than once, "Never give a sucker an even break." He made a film with that name as well. So I went with Fields...

  3. Oh now get this -- the guy across the aisle from me at work claims that "teabaggers" is insulting. I told him they were happy enough to use the term until they found out that gay men used it first.

    Homophobic asshole. Republican.


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