Class Warfare My Ass

William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed

Saturday 24 September 2011

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential candidate, speaks at the Florida P5 Faith and Freedom Coalition Kick-Off event at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida, September 22, 2011. (Chip Litherland / The New York Times)

I have to live for others and not for myself: that’s middle-class morality.

– George Bernard Shaw

I have been saying this for years upon years, but it bears repeating: the most awesome, fearsome, and effective weapon in the arsenal of the modern Republican Party is their total, utter and complete lack of shame.

That weapon – the ability to say or do anything, literally anything, even as it flies in the face of on-the-record comments made just the day before, or contradicts thousands of votes cast in congresses past – is the equivalent of a battlefield-deployed tactical nuclear weapon. It clears the field, but good, and if everything is ashes in the aftermath, so be it. So long as effective spin makes the news cycle, it’s a victory for them, and screw the people who get hurt.

The GOP wins when that is the contest, and that is all they care about…and the awful irony comes when the very people getting screwed are up on their feet cheering after the deal goes down, because “their team” won the day.

Watching these recent GOP debates has cracked me up for any number of reasons, but nothing can top watching those millionaires square off in an attempt to prove who among them is the most “folksy,” the most in tune with the working stiff. Mitt Romney, whose personal fortune roars deep into nine figures on the left of the decimal, actually claimed he was a middle class guy during a recent campaign appearance.

Ah, yes, the irony again…just think, if people banking nine figures of personal wealth were actually considered middle class, all of our problems would be solved, right?

Or something.

Which brings us to the subject of “class warfare.” The term has been a favorite broadside of the right-bent rich-people-first set going on forty years now, and in times past has always reaped them rich rhetorical benefits. We’re a classless society here in America, don’tcha know, so accusations of “class warfare” have all too often sent lily-livered liberal-leaning politicians scuttling for the exits, for the apology, for the eventual retreat.

Oh no, it isn’t class warfare, this is only fair…which earned, invariably, a reply of “CLASS WARFARE SOCIALISM WHAAARGARBLE”…which, in turn, earned another hasty retreat instead of a proper and just reply.

Which is, should have always been, and should now be: kiss my ass, you leech, you bloodsucker, you greedy whore, you war profiteering glutton, you disgrace, you betrayer of America.

Oh, I know the argument. I know it as well as the spit I leave on the sidewalk when there is a bad taste in my mouth. The rich are better than us, they are the ones making the jobs, they have earned their esteemed position through a Randian process of natural economic selection, etc…except for the sneaky fact that a large number of these “business titans” inherited their wealth, and today increase their wealth not through hard work, but through favorable interest rates and even more favorable tax rates on money that is already in the bank.

The top-earning businesses in America today, across the board, are wallowing in record profits, and yet somehow hiring is stagnated. Why is that?

Could it be that these titans are holding off on hiring in order to affect the number of jobless Americans, so as to influence public opinion as we head into an election season? God almighty, to have such astonishing reach…to be able to keep millions out of work in order to put one black guy out of a job…now that’s real power.

Class warfare, indeed.

Poverty has increased locally and nationally across the board, joblessness is reaching Great Depression-era levels, and millions have lost houses to those whose own homes resemble castles, to those who are secure in both funding and foundation. Money does not disappear. It has to go somewhere; what is lost is always found. Most all of us have spent the last several years losing money hand over fist, while Forbes tells us that the richest among us have increased their wealth by vast amounts in one year.

Try to contain your shock.

There is work available for the doing, on infrastructure and new technology fields and any number of other areas, but the GOP majority in the House of Representatives won’t have any of it, because their marching orders are to screw the American economy in as many orifices as are available to try and unseat the sitting president. Period, end of file, and if you still think that isn’t their intention, I have a big red bridge over San Francisco Bay to sell you.

Class warfare? These cretins have the unmitigated gall to accuse other people of class warfare?

It is a wonder of American politics, this absolute and astonishing lack of shame on the part of the modern GOP. They have spent the last thirty years stifling a minimum-wage increase, they blocked legislation to help 9/11 responders pay for very present health concerns, and spent the latter part of this last week trying to screw disaster relief funding for people who lose homes to tornadoes, floods, wildfires and earthquakes. They hate Social Security and Medicare down to their gold-plated bones. Now they are deliberately and intentionally stifling the very economy they themselves tore up, for no other reason than to win the next election.

How are they doing it? Money and power, power and money, and be damned to those who suffer for their desires.

Psssst…it is class warfare: full-throated, no-bullshit class warfare, and the rich ones whining about it are the ones who are winning. Be on your own side for a change of pace.  They got the guns, as a man once said, but we got the numbers.

It is class warfare, and has been for a generation. We’ve been losing, badly.

For now.

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All You Need is…Work!

Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lenno...
Image via Wikipedia

The quintessential piece made famous by John Lennon and the Beatles from their wonderful song, All You Need is Love, was first performed in 1967 to a world completely different from today. Right now, what America needs as much as love, is work.

Lets draw a picture of the overall scheme of things so everyone knows where we sit:

1. America, in 2007 had an unemployment rate of 4.7%. That is the ideal number give or take. It does not take into account a variety of things, particularly minorities whose number could be considerably higher. It is also a number that is considered favorable by the economy. To be safe, double that number and you are more likely to see numbers more closely approaching real unemployment in the nation.

2. Contrast that with now, in 2010, with an average unemployment in the nation hovering at 9.7 to 9.9%. This number also ignores a variety of other elements including the disparity in minority hiring, the under-employment numbers (which talk about people working in jobs that do not help them make their ends meet) and the 99er’s (people who have lost their jobs, and their unemployment benefits because they have been unemployed for 99 weeks, the maximum time allowed for unemployment). And as before, if you double the official number, you are closer to the real numbers for unemployment (around 20%) and if you add the underemployed, you reach almost 28%. This means there are an estimated 11 to 25 million people who are unemployed or underemployed.

3. Hiring is basically flat right now. While there is much ado about the productivity of American businesses, they are boasting profits while they are hiring no new employees. This is not as counter-intuitive as you might think seeing how, by firing employees, they are cutting one of their most expensive line items, employees. The remaining employees of businesses are being super-efficient in order to not lose THEIR jobs. Unfortunately they are doing the work of two or three employees who are no longer with the company, so that level of productivity cannot honestly be expected to last. I would estimate another three months tops before the bottom starts falling out of places that are abusing their workforce in this matter.

US unemployment rate, by county (Dec, 2008)
Image by Cartographer via Flickr

4. I am going to name a few of the forces that put us in this dilemma in no particular order: NAFTA, corporate outsourcing for twenty years, H1-B visas, corporate greed, investment banks, the Federal Reserve, the housing market and its inflationary growth cycles, the tech boom and bust, for that matter, all boom and bust cycles, corporate greed (did I mention that already?), poor education in the educational industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, the legal/judicial-industrial complex, malfeasance on the part of corporations which end up raising their costs, inflation caused by administering to the national debt, wars (all of them, take your pick over the last twenty years) lazy and uninspired Americans, obesity, bad health, overpriced health care and technology in general; did I miss anything? But if I had to pick one, and only one, you might be surprised to know that I would pick technology as the number one force that has displaced more people, permanently from the workforce than any other thing on my very long list. How I arrive at that, well, you will have to wait for a bit…

5. To add another wrinkle in this tapestry, there are two workforces vying for the remaining positions. The first, college graduates, filled with the academic knowledge still in the corner of their mouths fresh from the teat of our hallowed halls of higher education. They have little or no work experience to speak of, but they are willing to work for nothing, mostly because they don’t have anything to maintain. No homes, a rust-bucket that moves if they are unlucky, something overpriced if they are from a family with a little more means. The super-elite, the sons and daughters of the privileged, will of course be taken care of one way or the other, by nepotism, or by trust funds until this tawdry unemployment thing blows over.

Our other workforce is the hoary, veterans of the psychic wars, those sons and daughters of the Baby Boomers who are still in what is today, the primes of their lives, filled with the knowledge of three decades of hard-won experience, time-tested capability and the power of knowing how things work in relationship to whatever their occupation was before they lost their jobs, were laid off, semi-retired, quit, were liquidated or treated as expendable assets. These are the people who built the mega-corporations and industries that cast them aside as detritus when the going got tough. They are viable, intelligent and a damn sight more useful than they are being treated in interviews that tell them they are over the hill and should consider a consultancy as a potential occupation for the next twenty or thirty years.

(done ranting, taking a breath now…) Where were we? These two workforces are vying for the same limited un-natural resource at the moment. Work. But one of them is being overlooked. This cannot be admitted to legally, but the trend is there, especially if you talk to those older workers; and no, I am not talking about the dewy coeds fresh from a college dorm. I am talking about anyone over the age of 45 who is told they are too experienced for a job. I am going to have to tell you that is simply (insert explicative here…)

Technology is to blame for all of our ills. Now that we know who to blame we can simply turn back time to a simpler age and we will all go back to work, happier for the knowledge and experience. Wrong. This genie is out of the bottle and is never going back. So lets see how it happened.

All technology is designed to be labor-saving. The first rock or stick was meant to improve the feeble human physiology and offer an advantage either in combat or in dealing with the environment. Tools made it easier to grind corn or to brain wolves. And each new development improved humanity’s ability to adapt to a new climate. But there was another benefit, unnoticed at first, that men lost work every time a tool improved. In the beginning this was not a serious issue because there was always work to be done, usually far more work than there were people to do that work.

When humanity was nomadic, the work was moving stuff. When the groups grew too large to move, we created agriculture and settled down into groups that farmed and the move to the Agricultural Age was born. This was not a bad deal, we needed lots of people to farm and even with animals, feeding people was still a full time job for many people. Creating towns also created new work, since we were sitting still, we needed homes; we were moving loads, so we needed vehicles. Each development created new opportunities for innovation and new developments and thusly, new jobs. This continued all over the world, different rates, different climates, different technologies suited to a people and a biome.

Then the Industrial Age came. The age of the machine, where the idea for the assembly line and mass production was born. Okay, traumatic to the Agricultural Age, because it stole manpower to fill its factories, but those factories eventually produced technology to allow those people to stay away from those farms and continue to man the factories instead. Farming, was more and more being done by machines, with fewer and fewer people. The Industrial Age also produced its shadow technologies, things that powered the Age, things that complemented the Age and things that propelled the Age forward. And thusly were more jobs created. Innovation and creativity continued to produce new jobs, but there were dark times. Particularly when the Age was first starting up, there were periods where work was unavailable for large numbers of the population, particularly in the US during the Depression.

This did not last as new ideas, new risks, new innovation spurred the economy forward and helped usher in a new age. War did not hurt either, since it spurred a particular set of innovations which did return to the populace in a variety of ways in new ideas, new cultures, new people, new opportunities for everyone involved. The Industrial Age did not come without costs. Looming budget deficits, two world wars, hundreds of millions dead, plagues were spread from continent to continent because of new forms of travel. The Industrial Age was paid for in blood, from those who work the lines, the factories, the roads, the bridges, the dams, the farms and those who lived in the cities, in the crowding, the riots, the filth, and the ever-present, black, thick, sooty smoke that stained everyone all the time. The Industrial Age wore a black boot and tracked its imprint all across the world, then and now.

Welcome to the Information Age. And like every Age before it, it creates new opportunities far too numerous to mention. But one of its specters is a familiar one, Unemployment. Where the Angel of Technology giveth, the Specter of Unemployment also follows. This is not a new development. We have known this for at least ten thousand years. But humans and their governments have very short memories. So we tend to forget that we have seen this before. Scholars of history, who warn us to remember the past, lest we be doomed to repeat it, have given us a warning that we are never able to remember, until we are in the midsts of the dilemma. We are repeating the past, just about the turn of the century, from 1900 to 1930 the economic upheavals were legendary. The world as we knew it did not make sense.

Welcome to the turn of the century; except this is the 21st century not the 20th.

If your world is not making sense, you are not alone. No one knew, per se, how this new century would start but we were certain that we would be living in interesting times. We are at a crossroad. Three paths lie before us and none of them look anything like where we are coming from, so the past is only of the most marginal of help. Perhaps a moment of prayer while we decide; toss some salt over our shoulder to keep misfortune at bay, and now we shall plunge ahead.

A Newer World Order

This is my personal opinion. I make that disclaimer so that no one will later claim I misled them. I am neither a prognosticator, nor a seer, but I do have a sense of things, particularly where they have never been seen before. I am adaptable and fearless, so the ideas I am sharing are for those who know that the world they knew before is GONE, never to return, except as an echo in a foreign country just reaching the industrial age, and are prepared to forge ahead in an uncertain world.

Rules for the Newer World Order:

1. Forget what you know. It will not help you here. It is not that knowledge isn’t valuable. Its more that thinking about the world the way it was cannot help us see the way the world needs to be. There will be plenty of people struggling to hold the world in its current form. Don’t be one of them. Those people lose. Bought a buggy whip lately?

2. Return to the basics. They are more valuable than you think. Reading will never go out of style. As a matter of fact is is now more important than ever, because there is simply so much information, that if you cannot read, it is the same as not being able to swim if you are in the ocean. Nothing will replace the written word and the skill to write, cannot be underestimated. Yes, handwriting may be heading out and typing may be the tool of the day, but the skill to write information-rich, coherent, business capable content is worth its weight in gold. If you cannot write, your future in the NRWO cannot be assured. Be numerically literate. If you are a scientist or engineer, it is likely that your numerical literacy is up to par, if not, shame, shame. But if you are not an engineer or scientist, learn as much math as you can possibly shove in your head. If you have a fear of math or a mental block, go back to school, take remedial maths until you get back to the level that failed you. Then go forward, slower, more cautiously. BUT GET THAT LITERACY! The future will have more numbers than have ever been seen before. Data will be at the heart of all things, because we will have less time, more issues and more lives will be at stake. Data-driven decision-making IS the future. If you are making decisions without data, you are likely wrong. This does not mean that intuition is dead. It’s on life-support. Do the math.

3. Increase your ability to adapt. Flexibility in the future will be your greatest asset. Do something new every week. Go someplace you have never been. Eat something completely foreign to you. Learn to speak a new language (this goes to you lazy, damn Americans, who believe they only have to know one language and that is American.) If you get the joke, bravo. The people I am talking about likely won’t. Learn a martial art, take up gardening, talk to a stranger, be kind to someone (for a lot of you, that will be a new thing, try it out), go to your PTA. Get off your couch and get involved. We are losing daylight, folks. Unless we’re all involved in everything we see and do, there will simply be more problems than we have talented people to work on them. We will need to be highly skilled and able to work at a variety of things at the drop of a hat.

4. Be fearless. Fear will only serve to make you hesitate. In the Newer World Order, he who hesitates is truly lost. We do not have time for fear or self indulgence. To quote Nike: Just Do It. And this is not an excuse to do stupid self-absorbed, narcissistic twittering stupid things. I am talking about being fearless in a just cause, in the creation of new things, in loving your family, in working with the elderly. Be fearless in the exploration of new things. Part of what is missing is our spirit of exploration, we have conquered the Earth and are sitting on our laurels. They are quite flat now, so get up and get involved.

5. Trust someone. In a world gone mad, we are the only resource we have. Find someone to trust to have your back. This is a hard one. There is so much loss. There is so much fear. There is so much pain. More than we can bear, some days. But if we are trying to do it alone, the Newer World Order will destroy you. There is too much data, too much information, too much work, too many issues, too many people, too many ideas, too much of everything for you to try and do it all yourself. Work toward your limit. The human limit of real friends that can be involved with each other and still is 150. Build your community, and get your 150 people who really could care about you and your needs. Your virtual friends don’t count toward that number, so go nuts there, if you like.

6. Be trustworthy. Give your word to someone, or some ideal and keep it. To quote Stan Lee and Jack Kirby: ‘Nuff said.

7. Age is NOT just a number. You cannot buy wisdom, but you can certainly rent it. Find someone older than you, who is looking to contribute to the world. You will find them an asset beyond measure. Ignore the outside, look to the inner person.

8. Age is just a number. In this information-dense world, our youth are plugged directly into it. They are annoyingly precocious and amazingly intelligent. Do not allow their youth to blind you to their incredible potential. Find someone younger than you, and let them teach you Our Brave New World’s technology. I guarantee they will surprise you.

9. Learn to think. This means you will have to turn off your television. This means you will have to ask questions. This means you will have to get off your couch. Thinking is your number one tool if you plan to EAT in the new world. If you are not prepared to think, then stock up on canned cat food. It will be all you can afford to eat before too long. Excuses mean nothing. And for all of you degreed folks, that paper means nothing as well. Unless you plan to use it for a place-mat for your cat food. Thinking, real thinking, critical thinking is something completely different. And no, I can’t tell you how to get it here. Do I have to do everything for you?

Back to the real question: How in the hell do I find work in this Newer World Order?

There is no easy answer to this question. Part of the answer will be for corporations to understand that for them to prosper, they will have to go back to hiring people. Simple as that. The people who are working for you will not spend any money, anywhere until they see new people coming in the door with boxes of stuff, rather than being escorted out with their personal effects. They do not feel safe. So, not feeling safe, means not spending money. Not spending money, means widgets on shelves. Widgets on shelves means no money coming in. No money coming in means employees going out. Repeat. Are you following me?

The second step is that we have to stop being complacent as a nation and start planning for the future. Not the next quarter, but for 5, 10, 20 years ahead. We are not so good at that. We had better get good at it, the stakes are frighteningly high. In my next piece we will discuss what we need to do to change ourselves for the Newer World Order.

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Steps toward a saner America

The behavior of America’s leaders in this first year of the Obama administration has been less than stellar; name calling on the floor of the Senate, open mockery of the office of the President, death threats made to congressmen are just a few of the more questionable behaviors that have reared their heads in these last months.

More disturbing is that as the deadline for the potential signing of HR3590 drew closer, more vocal rhetoric and in some cases outright slander and overt racism in the case of the Tea Party and the Christian militias (which in the last year went from 180 groups to over 540 groups and growing) continued to grow and spew forth vitriolic venom both on the ground and in the airwaves.

Glen Beck’s screams of “Progressivism” and Rush Limbaugh’s continued polarization of the GOP’s base seemed to fuel a frenzy of national hatred that culminated with the final signing of the health care legislation.

The question begs to be asked: What exactly could cause such a major swing in the overall mental state of the nation that would cause social groups to abandon all sense of propriety and what was once considered to be common sense and human decency? And this transition did not happen overnight.

I can find articles describing this phenomenon years before Obama came into office.  How is it that even children can see the behavior of every adult whether they be “tea-bagger” Republican or liberal “bleeding-heart” Democrat has been a travesty worthy of school yard bullying complete with arguments about policies that no one has read in their entirety and cannot even begin to really understand the ramifications of, for years in the future; each group claiming to be more right than the other and willing to kill to prove it.

Is this what good government is supposed to look like? No wonder our children want nothing to do with the idea of government – its is a regression to the schoolyard of their youth where nothing got solved, everyone was right and no one could apologize for fear of appearing weak and losing face.

So how do we begin to make a transition from this fear-enabled, angst-filled, respect-stunted, violence-prone and civility-impaired nation of fools without the ability to hold even the most basic of conversations without resorting to ad hominem attacks about Progressivism, Socialism, Marxism, conservatism, Nazism, racism, or Communism and get back to a nation powered by ideas, fueled by innovation, guided by clear vision, charged with enthusiasm for the future, and with the idea that only as a nation of real equals do we have a chance to tackle a potentially troubling and very challenging future filled with perils aplenty – a constantly growing need for diverse and renewable energy sources, better food to feed an obese and sedentary nation, a more even educational system providing higher quality education at lower costs, handling a crumbling technological infrastructure in all of our cities, ever-rising debts in the management of said cities, mass transit systems, school systems, prison systems and local governments, a reduction of our nation’s status as the leader in technological innovation, military might, and national idealism, wars all over the globe, some of which we take part in and other we shamefully allow to take place without intervention because our assets are not yet imperiled. Do we not have enough to deal with without the people and particularly the leaders of our nation acting as if we had simply gone mad?

No need to break out your DSM IV

As much as I would like to say that this is a mental health issue, I cannot agree with that assessment. Nor will I say that this is about the Left versus the Right and which has the nation’s best interests at heart. And I will not allow people such as Limbaugh, Beck and Stern (and any other raving media lunatic) the option to say that he has had the power to move the minds of men toward madness.

I say this is a creeping condition. A hidden fungal infection, beneath the veneer of civility, something that has been with this nation since its beginning; an underlying sense of shame, a sense of entitlement, a sense of misplaced anger, and a sense of righteous indignation; stirred together, simmer over four hundred years, add some civil wars, some terrible recessions, stir together in a Dust Bowl, fold in some misplaced ideals (McCarthyism for example), sprinkle on a few pogroms, ladle in laws that denied what we now consider rights, place a few strategically fired bullets at leaders who saw a better, brighter world,  and the add a generous helping of landmines all over the world to deny people of their opportunities year after year.

Bake until there are competitors for the world’s apparently diminished resources, bring to a boil over a burning building that collapses strangely when a plane with zealots deny three thousand of their lives and couple that with the retaliation that deprives millions more of theirs and you have a recipe for a madness that encompasses the country and poisons the world, a sickness spread through the airwaves, leaping from televisions, repeated on computers, stained to newsprint and by contagion in hidden office arguments and you have one of the most virulent plagues known to humanity, a loss of hope.

Hopelessness, of a future less promising than the one your parents had made even more futile by the actions of an elite few who want for nothing except for a connection to the human billions who do without that which their  financial billions could make right. Can we doubt that this is the recipe for madness? A sense of rage that would drive men to take up arms, kill their brothers, to sacrifice, like Abraham, anyone or anything that might make the world return to the Promised Lands of their religions.

Is it any wonder that people would strap on explosives filled with nails and shards of broken glass and blow themselves to bits on the promise that the next life, which none of us could technically be sure exists, would be better than the life they were leading the day they died? Our real goal is to return people to that hope, to a future that has the potential to be better than the one they see when they look up, whether it be out of their homeless shelter or their mansion window, a future that will not improve if we cannot admit that we are wrong about the present.

So if you want to improve the future, say it with me: I was wrong.

I don’t know what it was that I was wrong about and it does not matter. Did I misinterpret what was said? Did I assume when I should have asked? Did I know what Marxism, or Socialism or Communism really meant before I said those things I said in a meeting when I might have been a bit incensed? How much do I really know about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or the Federal Reserve or about my credit rating or how the stock exchange really relates to me or whether Windows 7 really is the operating system for my computer?

A need to be right?

Why are we so insistent that we must be right? My religion is the right one. My God told me. All other are wrong enough that I must die to prove it, unless I can kill them first. My government is the right one, because it has held power for a few days longer than the one before it, or has historically proven to be the one that raised fewer taxes or managed to make more changes that helped people or because business thrived under my government and languished under yours? That the Atkins diet is better than Weight Watchers?

STOP! Just stop!

History is great but its weakness is everyone remembers what is most convenient and important to them (relativism run amok). So when history gets people in a killing mood it is time to look toward the future and ask how what we are planning will affect the lives of people once we are gone. Yes, let’s get back to the idea of planning for a future that we will never get to see. That will make us think a little bit harder, plan a little bit better and teach our children well enough that they can have a chance to make that future happen for themselves once we are gone. Let’s go back to providing our children a legacy that will make them proud of us and still prouder of themselves for planning a better future for their children.

Enough shame to go around

You raging pundits, go home. Find something useful to do with your amazing oratory skills. Perhaps some poor neighborhoods of your choice could be inspired to greatness with those powers you currently wield without thought to their effects on the nation, on the future or most importantly on yourself. Could you live with yourself if you were to wake up in the future of your making only to find out it was the worst of all worlds, a hellish nightmare from which there was no awakening? Or are you so out of touch you would find a way to blame it on the other party, even while you were having your sandwich of Soylent Green?

You politicians, do your job. The one we hired you for. The one that, if I have my way this letter will incite people to replace you with someone who can read, who will write laws that they are not afraid to live under, who will create a responsible future that benefits everyone, not just the rich and powerful and who will consider every man woman and child under his or her constituency as precious as every drop of water is to a man lost in a desert, each drop coveted, beloved, needed and considered as important as the drop before it. Be responsible, be conscientious, be vigilant, be valiant, be leaders of men.

You media distributors, grow up. We know your secret, if it bleeds it leads. Sensationalism sells papers, video, commercials, and other advertising, continuing to make you the most powerful force for influencing the minds of men and women. We know you will do or say anything to be at the top.  But remember this too: scum floats to the top, too. We know who you are and you are wondering why no one is happy with newspapers? Less and less in newspapers matters to people anymore. You grow irrelevant to the common man and he knows this.

Continue in this pattern and you will be assured of one thing. In ten years, there will be ten newspapers for each time zone in the United States (currently there are 1,400 daily newspapers nationwide and thousands of local weeklies but that number is dropping fast). And do not think that the Internet will save you. The need for relevancy will follow you there. Find the heart of America and give it what it really needs which is hope for a future. Lead them with words that inspire as well as inform. You can let the printed word build the future or you can watch from the sidelines as “citizen journalism” replaces you with its imperfect writing styles, less than stellar grammar and polarized, biased views. But those views will be relevant to the people reading it and yours won’t be.

You elite one percent, pay attention. Your time of reckoning is at hand. This economic collapse that everyone wants to place at the feet of President Obama is not his alone. He may be in charge of the nation, but he just got here a year ago. In the seventies and eighties when lobbyists for big business and deregulation were able to convince the government that you would be more profitable if allowed to be less regulated, you were. But no one was watching you.

No one paid attention to your schemes that allowed you first to run rampant here in the States and then spread your machinations upon a vulnerable yet already scheming world trying to figure out how to get markets in America whilst you set your hungry eyes upon their wretched poor trying to figure out how you could exploit them for less than you were paying your middle class and poorer brethren here in the states.

Rich foreign investors purchased American assets and you moved your factories, your manufacturing, your services overseas and left your brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers of circumstance and shared fates without resources to buy your wares. And when your wares returned from their foreign sweatshops, there was no one left here to buy them, except for you and your elite friends who lacked the purchasing power to ignite the economic engine of shame, left under-fueled by your quests for profit. I do not say that your astronomical profits were wrong, just very shortsighted; myopic, indeed.

As for the handling of the economic wealth of our nation, the dealings in land and property that allowed for some financial slight of hand to further increase your wealth and prosperity at the further expense of our brothers in arms and hunger, you suddenly experienced a moment of fear, as you watched your Brothers, Lehman struggle for life and suddenly drown in a frenzy of economic skulduggery.

Capitalists that you were, you claimed that your right to make money made you immune to the vagaries of fate and that you were too big to fail and that it was up to the government and the little people you scorned so many years before to find a way to buoy you up on their backs one more time, whilst you flew in your corporate jets to plead your case before the government for Socialist or are they Marxist handouts?

Your time has come. You will not have the option of being too big to fail. You played that card and then spit in the eyes of your saviors by paying bonuses to your elite, again. You would think you could maintain your charade of contriteness for at least a year while the sting of keeping you rich faded from the memory of the poor and disenfranchised moved out of their homes which you helped them lose, into the shelters that cities can now, not afford to pay for, while your corporate jets fly over those regions who lost their pensions and are now watching their stores, towns, villages, families, and farms shutter their doors and their histories just in time to watch Glenn Beck tell them its Progressivism that is making them poor when you know that its really you. Don’t make any more mistakes, you elite, lest people remember the expression “Eat the Rich.”

And don’t think I forgot you, Average Joe; you too have a part to play in this madness, this contagion that you are spreading with your ignorance of facts, your ignorance of governance, your apathy to your children, to your community, to your own fate. Stuffing your faces full of empty calories and fulfilling fats, you watch American Idol, waiting to see which of these nobodies will get their 15 minutes of fame, 14 of which they will use up on the show and the last no talented gasp will be that 1 minute that you remember them after they leave the show and wait for the next season of unreality television. Your consumption does not stop with bad food and bad television, you enhance it with partisan television, television that is completely under the control of people who only have one mission for you, Joe; stay stupid, stay afraid, stay at work and stay at the store. And while you are at it, drink too much, exercise too little, take these white pills for your headaches, these blue ones for your impotence and be sure to get to the pharmacy for your insulin for your television or computer-induced diabetes.

No Joe, it’s not only your fault that you are subject to these ills. Judging from the fact that most of America is morbidly obese (okay maybe not most, but more than a third), I would say that the plan to keep you fat, crippled, illiterate, and underemployed is working fine; most of your fellow Americans are in the same boat.

So I have to ask you, since you are angry about the things that you know almost nothing about, can you be angry about the things you can be sure of? If you keep eating the way you do, you will die, you will die poor, you will die soon and you will die uncomfortably. You will die leaving your family no legacy because you will spend every penny you have to live as long as you can with as low a quality of life that is possible in our “first World nation” with its inadequate health care and overpriced insurance; so Joe, angry yet?

I know you are, you have lost a job that you had for twenty years and are now being told in your fifties that you need to train for a new career and you better do it before you lose your home to foreclosure the same way you lost your pension to a corporate escapade a few years before. I feel your pain. I would be pissed too if I expected to retire in ten years and now have to work until I die, no matter how soon or how uncomfortable that is going to be. Twenty years, on your feet for eight hours a day saying “would you like fries with that” would make me mad as hell!

I am going to leave you bigots, partisan political sociopaths and religious nuts out of this particular conversation, you are simply too unreasonable to talk to and if I do my job right, no one will listen to you again, anyway.

True Freedom

No one has to be angry anymore because you are now free to be wrong. Your urges to be right have forced you to say things you did not mean, to do things you knew were wrong and take risks that were completely unnecessary. Go to your boss and tell him or her, that you have no idea of anything you said in the last meeting was actually true and that you were likely going to have to do something illegal to make the numbers that you promised. We’ll wait. Now, don’t you feel better?

A huge weight is lifted because you know you will not have to lie tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. Lies that compound daily do not lead to a harmonious and stress free life. Lies compounded daily lead to coming to work with a couple of handguns and blowing your boss and likely yourself into the next life. It will now be okay to admit you don’t know anything about black people’s lives in America and the fact that you hate them is really based on the fact that your father hated them and his father before him. You hate them because it is the thing to do, something you know, not something you know anything about. You hate because you don’t know anything else to do.

I say America, you need a time out (I would recommend a spanking but to administer 300 million spankings would take me quite some time). You need time away from your television and those raging pundits, time away from your media and their constant urge to create a fear of everything around you. I want you to take time away from your Blackberries, your iPods, your computers, your twittering masturbation, your media frenzy. Put down your Xbox controller, your PS3, your Wii-motes, remotes, and get up from your sofa.

Stretch. Go outside. If it’s unpleasant weather, bundle up, go anyway. If you have a dog, take it out. If you have a cat, chase it out. Grab your kids, your wife, your husband, your girlfriend. Go to your nearest neighbor and introduce yourself. Then get them to go with you to your next neighbor and do the same. Do that until every house and every door that you can see from your door has a name on it. Then go home, sit with your family and marvel at their tales of their day. Savor the food on your table, if you do not have a table, remember when you did, and visualize the day that you will again.

Let go of the false divisions that the media use to keep us polarized. Those false divisions of race, creed, color, religion, political party, economic status, class, degree, and neighborhood are all created to keep us at odds. They are truly false. Turn off the lights and all people become the same. If you have a problem, close your eyes and put yourself in the place of the person who is asking you for your time, your support, your largess, your succor. You would hope he will be as helpful for you as you will be for him. Ultimately humans are herd animals, seeking shelter in the collectiveness of our cities and towns. But as herd animals if we can be divided we become prey to any unscrupulous predator that happens by. Nearly anyone who provides a major service to you can be a predator in the right light.

None of us will be free of this madness until we remember that we are all in this together. Gene Rodenberry’s fictional but highly logical race, the Vulcans, posited the IDIC – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination, an idea that promotes that true intelligence promotes and accepts diversity to spur innovation and invention. We would be wise to consider this idea. There are no strangers, only friends we have not met yet. Once we realize that each of us is all of us, we will be able to be angry but only for a moment. The same way you are angry at your husband when he does not take out the trash, but forgive him when he remembers to help with the dishes. We will be able to realize that each of us is imperfect and yet perfect just the way that we are.

We are all bound together through that ultimate equalizer, Time; “it slays kings, ruins towns, and brings high mountains down.” We are all mortal and none of our works will last unless the least of us is as important as the best of us. We have an entire world that is looking to us to be our best. And since we are so fond of claiming that America is the best, shouldn’t we be finding new ways to prove that?

I do not fear the future. I am confident that we can overcome all of the mistakes that have led us to this fork in the road. We can continue down this road we are on, self absorbed, lost, angry, fat and apathetic or we can opt to notice that the Future is coming. Get up, put on your best, think, learn what the future requires and then build it. Grab a friend or two to help you. Hurry up; it will be here before you know it. Who has time to be mad?

Thaddeus Howze © 2010, All Rights Reserved