Why then, with an unemployment rate of 20% and more Internet connections than anyone else, aren't we here in the States fucking shit up?
An illusion of systemic equality, that's why.
In Europe, people immediately suspect anyone with money of wrongdoing. They have a history of monarchy, of rich people appointing themselves leader simply because they can. Not because they earned it.
In the Middle East and elsewhere, they have a history of monarchy and corrupt dictatorship. They also immediately suspect anyone with money of having bribed, cheated and violently slashed their way to the top. More often than not, resource-rich countries in the third world end up with leaders put into place by foreign powers, usually us.
We have no such immediate suspicion of the rich; to the contrary, the average American has a "more power to 'em" attitude towards even the slimiest of capitalists. Our real religion is capitalism, and to slander any of its chosen people is blasphemy. Profit makes you a prophet.
So when we are raped by criminals in $1,500 suits on Wall Street, it's our fault - we shouldn't have taken out home loans we couldn't repay. Just because our wages have gone down, prices have gone up and companies have taken away all of our benefits, that doesn't mean we have the right to borrow money to educate ourselves or pay for health emergencies. There we go again, thinking only of ourselves. Sorry, Goldman Sachs - we know you're doing god's work.
And when our dear leader gives in on single payer health care (which would help us all rise out of debt and counteract falling wages), then gives in on a public option, then agrees to a tax cut for the only people who can afford private health insurance, we react how? By calling him a great leader - Reaganesque, in fact.
And when Obama fails to close the torture chambers of Guantanamo, Makes a half-assed effort to get our troops out of Iraq, and actually sends more troops into Afghanistan, how do we strike back? How do we lash out at the injustice of a 10 year occupation of two innocent countries that did nothing to us? How do we express our outrage at the idea of American armed forces killing civilians and children and trying to weasel out of it by outsourcing the murder to contractors and local warlord allies? We close our eyes, stick our fingers in our ears, and whisper U-S-A, U-S-A.
|hard-working Louis XIV|
We, on the other hand, don't get it, because we think America is different.
Well, we're not different. Our privileged royal assholes don't wear crowns, jewels and funny hats, but they're here. They live among us. And none of them deserve to have obscene portions of our national wealth.
If you don't come from money in the USA - if your folks worked as hard as they could to keep you fed, keep you healthy, and moderately happy, but couldn't sock away a $million+ for you in a trust fund, here's your story: You get pretty good grades in school, you graduate high school and manage not to get arrested. You stand willing to work hard in exchange for a fair shot at becoming rich. You are promised that chance from birth. So you start working for a salary, 40 hours a week. You're in sales, you're in manufacturing, you're in a service business, you're assisting in an office, whatever. You pay your taxes. You have to save for your own retirement, pay for your own health insurance, buy gas to get to work, pay rent, pay a car payment, car insurance, and buy food and cable TV. Your salary doesn't allow you to afford all of these things so you stop saving anything. Still falling behind, you apply for a credit card. Soon you owe another $100 a month on the VISA card just to pay the minimum payment. Seeing the need to make more money, you apply to a trade school or community college. These people lie to you and rip you off. Two years later you owe another $300 a month in loan payments and your salary hasn't gone up at all. All this time, you're a boy scout - going to work, visiting grandma, driving on the right side of the road, voting, recycling - So you think, I need to cash in on that American dream and start my own business. Your options for getting rich are, however, limited by your complete lack of business training, lack of money, and lack of time. So you start cleaning buildings after work to make extra money. Since you can't physically stay up that late, you buy some drugs to work the two jobs. As your body deteriorates and your mental capacity diminishes, you start making other bad decisions. Fill in the blank here: you start selling drugs, you start turning tricks, you start betting on sports, you start daytrading, you develop mad drinking skills - and you get arrested. Now you need a lawyer, fine money, and when you get out you can't even get your old job back because you have a record.
In other words, for doing the right thing and trying your hardest, you're fucked.
Contrast this to the story of, oh, let's say, George W. Bush. Born into an influential Texas oil family, little George didn't work hard or get good grades - he skipped right to the party-your-ass-off phase and fucked up every easy job his daddy got for him. But because his family was rich and well connected, everybody just forgave him, and continued to kiss his ass. A drunk driver, cocaine user and corrupt politician, he never served a day in jail or had to go to court-ordered AA. He deserted his pansy-assed Air National Guard post his daddy arranged for him. And then he became President because his Daddy knew over half of the Supreme Court. After he fucks up every last square inch of what was a proud democracy, he writes a book where he again admits breaking the law and authorizing torture.
And we do nothing. "More power to him."
Until we change that attitude to More Power to US, we will have no street riots over things that matter, like the rest of the world. And nothing will change.
|James VI also like torture|
Systemic equality is an illusion. "All men are created Equal" is not the law in this country, it's just a pleasant thought included in a legally impotent document, the declaration of independence. Since Jefferson's kind phrase was inked, precious little has been done to level the economic playing field to treat everybody as equal. We don't start the race at the same starting line and the rules are not the same for all runners. Laws are designed to keep the rich rich and keep the poor quiet.
If we don't fight the rich, we don't have a chance at improving our financial position. We can't be any more productive than we are - we have to take from them to get more. The pie is as big as it's gonna get. For your piece to get bigger, theirs must get smaller.
What if most of your daily expenses were covered using money we took from the rich people? What if you started out getting pretty good grades in school and stayed out of trouble, and our national wealth had been managed so well that your health care was free, your college was free, your car insurance was free, your cable TV was free, your retirement was covered, housing was free or cheap and located next to free public transportation, and state-owned agribusiness and utilities made it cheap to live on your staring salary. Private banks are illegal, and all insurance is government-run. Now, you're not going to get rich, but we're not going to tease you with that phony dream and fuck you over, either. In exchange for working and contributing to society, you get a decent life. Wouldn't that be a whole lot better?
There is no such thing as "an economy," just competing interests. We're losing. A better world is possible. Nobody in the USSR got rich, but they had 100% literacy, full employment and they beat us into space. No banks, no insurance companies, no wall street. We can do even better than they did, without giving up civil rights. Government is not the problem - capitalism is the problem.