These past two years have certainly helped my personal growth.
The sell-out of Obama & most Democrat office-holders has schooled me in the total hypocrisy & destructiveness of politics based upon “party above all.”
Policies that should & would evoke unrelenting condemnation from all liberals if perpetrated by W.Bush are tolerated from B. Obama. Democrats plead for patience in the face of neglect of the jobless, growing poverty, continued war, environmental catastrophe, etc. Would they be so patient if President McCain’s track record were so dismal?
On the other side of the aisle, Republicans despise Obama & label him a Socialist, Nazi, anti-Christ, etc. But oddly enough he has done nothing that, under George Bush (or President McCain), would not have been tolerated if not happily welcomed.
As for me, I plan to follow my conscience & good sense without regard of political party. I will support & vote for only those candidates whom I can count upon to protect my interests. All Republicans certainly have failed that test & so have most all Democrats. Therefore, to Hell with both parties.
During these past two years, overheatedly indignant Libertarian/Republican wackos (indignant, of course, about the election of black Communist Barack Obama to the presidency) have harkened-back to their college-days’ admiration of flaky author Ayn Rand’s work. Indulging their inner-brat, they fantasize the “truly productive” members of society (that is, the criminal-Capitalists) enacting the scenario from Rand’s homage to greed, “Atlas Shrugged” : The virtuous & brilliant owners of big-business, tired of bearing the weight of the world (like Atlas, get it?) while being unappreciated by the masses, reach the end of their patience & go on strike (shrug, get it?), withdrawing from society & causing the total collapse of the financial & industrial world.
Sales of Rand’s screed have been climbing since the 2008 economic collapse. Apparently, Social-Darwinist dunderheads find solace in its message that ordinary people are robbing the rich of deserved compensation for providing the rest of us with their leadership. All those pesky rules & regulations are dragging-down the supermen & we best be careful or the mighty just may go off someplace & sulk, leaving we lesser-humans to ruin civilization much like “Planet of the Apes.”
What is most laughable about this threat is the threatener’s absolute lack of awareness that the heads of big-business & finance are exactly the ones who repeatedly rape the environment, crash the economy, and continually feed-off the masses while providing very little (if anything) of real value to society. Time after time it is the peons who must pick-up the pieces & clean-up the mess caused by the crony-Capitalists.
If anyone should “shrug” (strike) it should be the masses who toil day after day, year after year, trying to get ahead in a system that swindles them at every turn. After a lifetime of work, most people cannot rely upon having sufficient income, retirement, & health care in a culture that strives mightily every day to knock them back to square one. America’s workers are like Sisyphus, whom the gods punished to toil exhaustingly each day pushing a huge boulder up a mountainside and when reaching the top watched helplessly as the boulder rolled down to its starting point.
All those vultures who style themselves as put-upon Atlases wouldn’t last two weeks without the people who do the real grunt work of this world.
I went to a job fair on Thursday in a local hotel ballroom. It was scheduled to begin at 10 am and so I arrived 20 minutes early. By then there was a group of a couple hundred people waiting at the locked doors. When the doors opened, I was swept in with the tide of job-seekers.
The fair consisted of 15 “exhibitors” of which 5 were colleges & training schools looking to recruit students. Most of the remaining exhibitors were for companies that do things like paste advertising billboards onto automobiles.
I had attended so as to apply at a local retailer that was seeking management candidates. When I entered the fair I made a beeline for their booth, where I was 2nd in line to receive a job description & application package. By the time I filled-out the paperwork 10 minutes later, I found that I was well over 100th in line to hand it in.
For this past week, a local grocery had a flier posted in its window saying cashier applications would be taken this morning. I arrived a half hour before time and was, therefore, 4th in line. Since I shop at the store regularly, the cashier on duty recognized me on my way out & I stopped to talk. She said she must have given-out 1000 applications during the week.
My valet, Higgins, silently entered my stateroom earlier than usual. It was the crack of noon. He leaned over my custom double-king-size bed and gently nudged my shoulder to awaken me. “Sir,” he implored in the sort of hushed-tone one would use to awaken an infant, “you must dress and go into town for your appointment at the unemployment office.”
My groggy voice returned to him, muffled by the eider-down pillow covered with satin pillowcase in which my face was half-buried. “Go ‘way, Higgins, come back and rouse me in half an hour.” I reached my hand out from under the Siberian goose-down comforter to wave him off impatiently.
“A thousand pardons, sir,” Higgins replied consolingly, “but yesterday evening, when you gave instructions to awaken you at noon today, you impressed upon me the importance of your being prompt for this appointment.” He straightened-up and gathered my champagne glass and bottle from the night table. Then his voice took on a note of imperiousness, “I have taken the liberty of drawing your bath and laying-out your special unemployment office ensemble.”
I yawned, stretched, then threw-off the luxurious bed-coverings and sat up. “No, Higgins, I think it best that I do not bathe this morning.”
Hearing this, Higgins, who was walking for the door, halted in his tracks. He half-turned so that I could see his profile but still I could see that the blood had drained from his face. He was barely able to disguise his dismay. “Am I to understand then, sir, that you shall go to your appointment…” he searched for the word, “unwashed?!”
“A man must do what a man must do!” I replied emphatically. “When in Rome…and all that sort of thing.” I added.
“I see.” He replied slowly and with noticeable resignation he added, “Very well, sir.” He then hurried out, closing the door silently behind him.
Minus my usual morning routine of brushing teeth, combing hair, and shaving, it took me almost no time in the lavatory. I quickly donned a dirty t-shirt, baggy faded jeans, and a pair of well-worn flip-flop shoes. In the midst of dressing, I felt a longing for my usual attire of Armani or perhaps Hugo Boss and a comfy, comfy pair of hand-made Bertolis to clad my feet. But, I reminded myself, I must be strong for I was not going to the country club this afternoon. I was instead visiting the unemployment office, or as it was now called “the job center,” to file my request for extended unemployment benefits. And once that was done I would rush to shower, change clothes, and the missus and I would celebrate with a meal in the finest French restaurant, accompanied by a bottle of Romanee’ Conti.
I made my way on deck to discover that my chef, Marcus, had outdone himself with a feast fit for a king: a steaming pot of Hawaiian Kona coffee, truffles and cheese omelette, fresh croissants, buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, and Scottish Oats porridge with a tot of cream and whiskey. As always, Higgins had laid-out the morning newspaper on the table with the page folded to the latest stock quotations. He doffed a cloth napkin onto my lap and stood-by behind me. “Bless his soul,” Higgins told me as I dug into the exquisite repast, “Marcus heard of your impending pilgrimage and hoped to allay some of the discomfort.”
“Please relay my compliments to him.” I heartily replied. “And please also relay to the Captain that we shall set-sail early tomorrow morning at his discretion.” After thoroughly satisfying my hunger, I sat back to enjoy my third perfect cup of coffee. As my eyes scanned across the other yachts in the marina, I again addressed my servant.” I take it that Mrs. Girdle, as is her habit each time we dock, has gone shopping?”
“Oh, indeed, sir.” said Higgins with a hint of amusement. “She left about nine-thirty this morning.”
“Ah. She will, of course, return to us with arms full of purchases from the most exclusive shoppes.” I chuckled, “But I suppose it’s only money, eh Higgins?”
“In truth, sir.” nodded Higgins.
As I sat breathing-in the pure air and sunshine and listening to the gulls, I began to ruminate upon my great, good-fortune. Whereas only a short year ago I had been just another working stooge, my life had taken a turn for the undeniably better when I had lost my job. Since that time, unemployment benefits have afforded me a life usually reserved only for a relative handful of aristocrats. Once upon a time I struggled to pay my bills and now I live in sumptuous luxury, thanks to the public trough: a villa in Southern Italy, world-travel aboard my yacht (which once belonged to Aristotle Onassis), holidays in the Caribbean, hobnobbing with the jet-set at Cannes and the Riviera. The only fly in the ointment was that, every few months, I had to return to the United States to put in another request for more unemployment. However, it was a small enough price to pay.
“I suppose, Higgins, that if I were still working for a living I would now be having lunch. Probably something like a Big Mac and french fries.” I felt my stomach rebel at the thought.
Higgins answered impassively. “That is likely sir.”
“Well then,” I raised my fine china coffee cup for a toast, “here’s to the great American taxpayers. Long may they remain suckers!”
My trip into the city was uneventful. To assure my arrival in a state of optimum, sweaty dishevelment I ordered Sagamore, my chauffeur, to keep the limousine’s windows down during the drive to the unemployment office. But I emphasized he was have the car properly closed and chilled for my triumphant ride home. He dropped me off two blocks from my destination.
As I walked within sight of the job center, I changed my sunny demeanor to the one of proper hangdog shame. I shuffled through the door to take my place in one of the interminable lines. The greater part of an hour passed before I reached the head of the line. Once there, the receptionist assigned me a number and pointed to the overcrowded waiting area. Once there, I found no available molded plastic chair on which to sit, so I wandered about, being sure to listen for my number to be called.
I walked over to the wall-sized bulletin board on which was posted huge numbers and variety of available jobs of all descriptions. I pretended to look them over carefully but inside smirked that I would never be willing to work again as long as unemployment was available. A young black man dressed in regulation droopy pants, muscle shirt, and backwards ball-cap stood to my side, perusing the listings. We happened to lock eyes for a moment and he gave a broad smile. “Ain’t this a buncha bullshit?” he giggled. “Like I’m gonna take one of these jive-ass jobs and give-up my penthouse apartment and rolls? I never had it so good; wish I woulda lost my job a long time ago!” He laughed and slapped his hand onto my shoulder.
“Shhh!” I cautioned him, “You’ll give it away!”
He quickly sobered. “Oh, yeah, right.” We went back to pretending to look at the jobs. He muttered to me out of the side of his mouth. “I can’t wait to get outta these garbage clothes and back into my Jaegers. But like I told my butler this morning, “A man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.”"
“That’s the same thing I told my butler this morning!” We both laughed stealthily. Then the loudspeaker called out “number two-hundred-twenty-four” and he said, “That’s my number! Gotta go. Good talkin’ to ya; take care!” and he hurried away.
I strolled again to the waiting area, where a couple seats had been vacated. I settled uncomfortably onto the cheap plastic chair. Across the way, a thirty-ish caucasian woman in a day-glo pink jogging suit spoke loudly into her cell phone, “…I don’t care how much extra it costs. I’m expecting forty-five guests at this dinner and when I hired you to cater it you assured me there would be no trouble obtaining Almas caviar. Certainly, fly it in by priority shipment if you must! And don’t call me again because I’m in the middle of an important meeting!” and with that she hung up.
Sitting down the row from me, a thin young asian woman whose arms were covered with tattoos said sympathetically, “It’s so hard to find good help these days. You know, I had to fire my maid last week because she showed-up drunk!”
The middle-aged black man beside me spoke up. “You probably did her a favor.” he grinned, “Now she’s on unemployment and got a maid of her own!” We all laughed uproariously. Then, realizing someone in authority might overhear, we fell silent.
Shortly thereafter, my number was called. I ambled into my caseworker’s office with an attitude of dejection. Ms. Breene, the thin, nervous social worker sat behind her desk with my file open in front of her. “Hell, Mr. Girdle.” she said.
“Hello.” I replied.
Before I even had a chance to sit, she asked, “Have you been looking for work?”
I nodded again and said, “Oh, yes” I lied. “Every day.” I almost burst-out laughing.
Ms. Breene made a quick notation in the file. “Alright then. We will give you another four months of unemployment. See you again in four months.” Then she looked up and with a smile and a wink she said, “Say hello to Higgins for me.”
I smiled at her, turned and walked out. As I exited the building, across the plaza I saw the young man whom I had met at the job postings. “Hey, Mr. Two-Twenty-Four!” I shouted happily.
He stopped talking to the pretty, young woman who had his attention. When he saw it was me he grinned and called back, “Going home to cool-off in my swimming pool.”
I nearly danced the two blocks back to my limousine. Sagamore had the interior cooled to perfection. And that was not all he had cooled to perfection. Waiting for me in an ice bucket was a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon. A string tied around the neck of the bottle held a note from my wife that read, “Let’s Not Ever Work Again!”
As my car pulled-away from the curb and I poured a glass of the bubbly, I wiped-away a tear of joy. As my new friend, Mr. Two-Twenty-Four said, “I never had it so good!”
On the heels of May’s job-market news, comes another attack on the unemployed by a member of the aristocracy. In a CNBC interview, New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg said the time to cut-off unemployment extensions is “right now” because helping the jobless only “encourages people to, rather than go out and look for work, to stay on unemployment.”
Alas, neither the empty suit in the White House nor anyone in Congress nor any mainstream media pundits are inclined to take the Senator to task. His nitwit statements would be easy to refute except that most everyone in American public life is so completely bought. Letting him go unchallenged plays right into the natural American inclination to hate the poor & powerless. And, since the unemployed are very often poor & powerless or on their way to becoming so, we Americans must be encouraged to hate them too. That is vital to the fat-cats’ plan to keep the lower 95% of the population fighting each other so they can continue to grab the loot. So it is up to you and me to counteract Senator Gregg and his loathsome ideas.
Gregg is determined to ignore the jobs crisis that he and his associates in Congress had a very large part in causing. If they had done their job properly and kept the economy on the rails, then there would not now be such a need for keeping afloat such a massive number of unemployed. Official unemployment is 9.7% with actual involuntary joblessness about double that figure. The Senator would rather focus upon the superficially encouraging news that in May the U.S. economy created 431,000 jobs. Far be it for him to bother looking beneath the surface to learn that 411,000 of those jobs were temporary positions taking the U.S. Census. So the economy added just 20,000 permanent jobs when there are at least 15,000,000 jobless. And a few moments’ reflection would lead to the sensible realization that those Census jobs will be gone as soon as the Census-taking is completed. In a few months, the majority of those Census workers will be needing unemployment benefits again.
It is easy for a disengaged, pampered numbskull like Judd Gregg to effectively say – “To Hell With the Unemployed!” He was not born in a log cabin, his father was Governor of New Hampshire in the early 1950′s & Gregg eventually held that job himself. In fact, the 63 year-old crook has been occupying some public office for 32 years.
“But, Colonel,” I can hear you saying, “just because he’s been in political office most of his life doesn’t mean he’s corrupt.” And you are right. I am sure there are honest lifetime politicians. But Gregg is not one of them. Here are 2 quick facts:
1) Gregg was the Republican’s leading author of the TARP program (also known as the bank bailout) while he had a multimillion dollar investment in Bank of America stock. Gregg finds time to multi-task as both a criminal and a hypocrite when he hand-wrings about how “we’re creating these massive debts which we’re passing on to our children…” He apparently had no worry about that when he negotiated giving nearly a trillion dollars to the banksters, but sees money for the unemployed is a danger to future generations.
2) At the beginning of his administration, Obama nominated multi-millionaire Gregg as Secretary of Commerce (doesn’t that figure?) but Gregg withdrew his name after it was learned that the Senator had financially benefited from government money he had steered to his state.
Now that we have revealed a bit of the man (professional politician, multimillionaire, crook, & hypocrite). Let us further examine his heartless & brainless ideas:
Senator Gregg appears to have lost sight of the truth that the unemployed are not simply lazy layabouts who love getting a free ride. The unemployed are people who worked and lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It is insulting to say that they would rather collect an almost unlivable pittance from the government instead of working for more money and, hopefully, fringe benefits such as health insurance.
The rich Senator fears that continuing support for the unemployed is “undermining the cyclical event.” This is his indirect way of lamenting that unemployment insurance keeps millions of potential serfs from fighting over the ever-lower-paying jobs. Big-business would benefit from having that bigger pool of near-slave labor to drive down wages & benefits. He appears to be an unknowing follower of plutocrat Andrew Mellon, who served as President Hoover’s Treasury Secretary. Mellon advised Hoover not to stem the spreading Great Depression because in his philosophy helping the jobless only undermined their morals and keeping the economy from hitting bottom stopped the natural cycle where the rich (he & his friends) could scoop-up assets cheaply.
The unemployed need their benefit payments to pay their bills. And when they pay their bills, that helps keep the economy from sinking further. If you think the economy is bad now, just try to imagine the downturn that would follow if the 15,000,000 unemployed defaulted on their bills. Then give another thought to the chaos & crime that would result. Unemployment insurance was invented to help support individuals who were put out of work and to support the entire economy!
Thank Heavens that Judd Gregg has already declined to run for reelection this fall. Good riddance to him!
Only the topsy turvy logic of a Washington D.C. politician could take May’s unemployment numbers as evidence that the economy is getting stronger. When all the hiring versus firing are balanced, the U.S. economy created a net of 431,000 jobs created last month. But 411,000 of them were temporary jobs working for the U.S. Census.
Said Washington politician is one President B.S. Obama who was touring a truck dealership in Maryland this morning. Obama took the opportunity of speechifying in front of the dealership’s 50 employees & cited the report as proof that “we are moving in the right direction.” How did the crowd resist pelting him with their shoes?!
Let us do a quick calculation: Take the “official” number of unemployed of 15,000,000 (the actual number of involuntary jobless is much, much higher. But we will use the official number because it is daunting enough). If we use our handy pocket calculators to divide the 15,000,000 unemployed by the 21,000 jobs created, we find that it will take 714 years to provide jobs for the unemployed. And that says nothing about the jobs that will be needed for the young people and immigrants who continually enter the workforce. But to a delusional, detached, empty suit like Barack Obama we are “moving in the right direction.”
Twenty-five years ago I had a boss who was a thorough, tenacious, argumentative Reagan Republican. One of the crackpot theories he extolled was that Americans not only should be permitted to smoke but should be encouraged to smoke. His reasoning was that more citizens would die sooner and relieve the burdens on society. Hey, maybe Obama needs to think outside the box like that! As it is, he has no noticeable job creation program beyond happy talk, in spite of campaign promises he continues policies that actually encourage American business to ship jobs overseas, and his promise to create oodles of green jobs has not amounted to a hill of beans. Congress balks & stalls every time they have to extend unemployment benefits to all those pesky former workers (it’s a lot less fun than voting for more war money).
So our “leaders” better come-up with a solution, fast. Because hundreds of thousands of temporary Census jobs have helped the unemployment numbers for the past several months. Soon those jobs will end and all those workers will go back into the ranks of the unemployed.
Here is a copy of the email I sent to the president, my Congressman, and my two Senators. I urge you to do likewise. There is a link to their offices here on this blog.
“It used to be only the Republicans who did not care about ordinary people. Now I see the Democrats have joined them. Going on vacation while millions of Americans lose their unemployment benefits? Shame on you!
I live in Dayton. Like me, you are old-enough to remember when this city was one of the top in the world for industry. Have you seen it lately? Maybe you should visit it during your vacation and see the closed businesses & factories and talk to the people who struggle to hold on to their lives without jobs.
The unemployed are not slackers or lazy layabouts. They are people who had jobs & lost them because the president & Congress did not do their jobs of keeping the economy on-track.
Why did I vote for a Democrat president & Congress if you are going to act like Republicans. And save me the nice-sounding speeches, show me some backbone and take action! If I cannot count on you now, then do not count on my vote in the next election.”
In a posting titled, “The Clinton Legacy,” over at the Bad Attitudes site, Jerome Doolittle reminds us that Bill Clinton, more than any other person, is responsible for passing the NAFTA (North American Free Trade) treaty. And therefore, he is responsible for many of our present problems with illegal Mexican immigrants. I was aware that NAFTA has undermined the U.S. workers but did not know that the legislation also allowed cheap U.S. and Canadian corn to undercut & bankrupt Mexico’s small farms. With their farms gone, the Mexicans come to the U.S. looking for a way to make a living (can we really blame them?)
Wait a moment! Did Bill Clinton not already apologize for ruining Mexican farmers this way? Oh, no…sorry…that was Haitian farmers to which Clinton apologized in March. He helped ruin them by getting Haiti to import cheap U.S. rice. I talked about it in my March 16 blog, “The Bill and George Tour.” Fortunately for American laborers so-far, the Haitian farmers could not get off their island so easily to come here. Instead, they have to just tough it out until U.S. Capitalists can ship the jobs down there to them. I figure that should start to happen very soon. The U.S. military occupation that started in March after Haiti’s big earthquake is even now making the island safe & stable for the empire’s business interests.
One could cut through my NAFTA-related disgust with a knife! I voted for Clinton twice but no wonder by the arrival of 2000, I voted for Nader mostly to send a message to Democrats that they needed to be more than “Republican-lite.” Those odious ogres, Reagan & George Bush #41 would have loved to have passed NAFTA during their times, but it took a Democrat, the worker’s friend, to coordinate that sell-out. (BTW- get ready for Obama’s similar Democratic presidential sell-out of Social Security)
Back in the pre-NAFTA days I still thought our “representatives” wanted to hear voters’ opinions and so I wrote them frequently. I mounted a one-man anti-NAFTA campaign where I wrote letters to political and business leaders and had as many of my family, friends, and coworkers sign them as I could get. And I got many.
I closely watched the sham debate leading up to the passage of NAFTA. The media and their Capitalist owners were of one voice: NAFTA would be a boon for Americans. Prices would drop and U.S. workers would safely move into high-tech jobs that are immune to being exported for cheap labor. Opponents of the treaty were portrayed in editorials & political cartoons as cretins on the level of cavemen afraid of the introduction of fire. The only notable person I recall as being anti-NAFTA was Ross Perot, who warned that businesses would move to Mexico so fast we would hear a “giant sucking sound.” 99% of working people I talked to were not fooled, they knew NAFTA meant unparalleled disaster for their future.
NAFTA passed and there was much rejoicing among the moneyed-crowd. The newscasts featured politicians and their owners grinning ear-to-ear in celebrations rivaling VJ day in 1945. I threw away my filing cabinet full of letters I had written over the years. I vowed never again to bother writing the politicians; a promise I kept until the run-up to the Iraq war.
Today we see the ramifications of NAFTA and similar policies that have been enacted by the evil monsters that pass for American “leadership.” Our industries lie in ruins. Working class income is in free-fall, with all classes but the topmost close behind. My beloved Dayton, Ohio, once one of the premier manufacturing cities of the world is little more than a ghost of its former self. Like most everything in the 21st U.S., the Capitalists made money off this economic destruction while the citizens got sold a pig in a poke.
Once again, as I did back in March, I ask: Will Bill Clinton will ever apologize to U.S. workers for NAFTA?
P.S. I was going to end this essay with the above question. And then I remembered that, during the 2008 campaign, presidential candidate Obama (now President George Bush III) said he would “renegotiate NAFTA.” Shockingly, he has since changed his mind about it.