Wednesday, March 28, 2007

WHERE’S THE REVOLT?

A woman in Houston pays 2,100 dollars—apiece—for three blouses in a store that caters to the wealthy, of which there are plenty. She needs three because after a few dry cleanings they’re not really any good any more, to her.

A man makes 32 million dollars in salary and perks running a corporation, and when he does a lousy job gets over a hundred million as a going away present.

Exxon-Mobil, or whatever the gigantic corporation’s name is, has just reported making more money in profits than any business or corporation in the history of the world.

When I applied for social security this morning in preparation for my senior-hood—the only white person in a room with hundreds of people in Newark NJ—they awarded me an extra fifteen dollars a month for the over four years I spent as an enlisted man in the service of my country in the early 1960s.

The cops and firemen in my neighborhood and clan when I was growing up made enough to afford a home, a life there, but these days no cops or firemen in my home town can afford to live there, or anywhere this close to New York City except for ghettos, otherwise they have to move a long commute away, out in what once was countryside and now is sometimes cheap, mass developments.

The fastest growing demographic of homeless people is children.

When the inequities were this extreme before in this country, the so-called “Gilded Age” or during the Great Depression etc., there were revolts afoot to address these and the rest of the obviously unconscionable conditions many people live with now.

So where’s the revolt?

There were a lot of hostile people in that Social Security office, some of their hostility aimed at me, an old gray-haired white guy. But it seemed racial, rather than a matter of class, though that too I assume.

I know communism, as practiced and pushed by the Soviet Union failed, and rightfully so, and that the right has managed to create the illusion in most people’s minds that socialism and liberalism are the same thing and that they have failed too.

But of course they haven’t, especially not in other so-called “industrialized nations”—but even if they had failed, so has capitalism, the way the conservative Republicans have practiced and pushed it.

So, except for the few demonstrators that turn out for the meetings of the billionaires who rule the world, why’s everyone else so docile?

Are the electronic toys and media distractions doing their job so well, people just don’t care? Or has the right manipulated the media so well people actually think it’s the fault of elite liberals or Washington bureaucrats?

Or is everyone just too tired from working so many hours for so little pay—more than any other “industrialized country”—to protest?

More work and less pay has become the standard default position for most workers for most corporations these days and the threat of no job or working at MacDonald’s has kept many of those people compliant I guess, but still, where’s the failed executive who understands the dynamics of contemporary corporations and is fired with rage against the inequities enough to use his experience and class privileged education and insider knowledge to lead a revolt of the masses—which now includes almost everyone who works for a living and isn’t a millionaire?

All these new leftist leaders in Latin America come out of that place, the anger at the huge discrepancies in economic rewards in their so-called “third world countries”—but now we too have those kinds of discrepancies, though with more toys, made by these and other “third world countries” for us to buy cheap.

Is that it? The “bread and circuses” that kept the Roman masses satisfied or distracted enough to not revolt against having their pockets picked by their leaders until it was too late?

Is it too late for us?

Are these questions rhetorical?

4 comments:

John Lally said...

I know what you mean. I wrote to my Senator (a republican) about his lack of support for the minimum wage increase. He said that he is willing to increase the minimum wage only if he can pass tax credits to offset the increase.

Well excuse me if I sound stupid, but if you offset the minimum wage increase, then you aren't really increasing the minimum wage in any meaningful way. If you give a little bit more to the little guy, and give more to the big guy, you haven't closed the gap at all. I think that if the top dogs made just a little less, then the little guys could get substantially more.

My Senator said that increases in wages don't come from thin air. That's true. I think the money should come from people who have no idea what to do with their money. People who buy solid gold umbrella stands or $400,000 shower curtains. People who book Jimmy Buffett or Michael Jackson for their birthday parties. People who give automobiles to every member of their audience. People who have several warehouses full of automobiles they will never drive. They need to be relieved of some of that money, to keep their fevered brain from thinking up creative ways to spend it.

Lally said...

And I was thinking, the closest person to what I was referring to as a possible leader of a revolt (and I should have made it clear it could be a woman as well), is John Edwards, at least in the "liberal" category. A guy who made that kind of money but has since devoted himself, at least in his speeches, to righting the economic inequities, and addresses them as one of his main issues.

AlamedaTom said...

See the post of December 21, 2006 on my blog, "Birth of the Cool" about the article "The Chauffeur's Dilemma" by Arlie Hochschild. IMHO this article nails it and answers your question about why there is no revolt.

~ Tom

Another Lally said...

We have a revolution every election day.

A new party should be formed of like minded people who actually seek change. Put up candidates who are true to their ideals and promote their ideas to get their candidates elected.

As in any revolution, they all start with a small idea and with care can grow into a national movement. Think of the mustard seed.