Who does the work in America?
This is something to think about while smug Republicans whine about how hard they “work” and how entitled they are.
I was talking recently to a neighbour, who is a friend and a police officer. He does shift work and is out at all hours. He sometimes sees humanity at its worst. Usually, he sees it at its most venal, silly, unthinking and pathetic. I won’t go too far into the story he told me about a domestic dispute or, the woman who called 911 to complain that a dog had soiled her lawn - and then went looking for the dog with a butcher knife (she didn’t find it). Once though, he had to talk a 12 year old kid into putting down a revolver. The child had been beaten one time too many. “It is all part of the job” he muses. He has a real job. He does actual hard work. Lives depend on him doing it right and he does it for something like 48k a year. He does it because it needs to be done and he is doing his part.
My brother is a damn good doctor. With the way medical school loans are and malpractice insurance is, he might - just might - be able to pay that all off in another 20 years with about 40k a year left over to live on. He has gotten out of residency, so he no longer has to be on call for 72 hours at a stretch - just 24. Lives depend on him getting it right - hundreds of them, no matter how tired he is - and he does get it right, day in and day out, snatching minutes of sleep here and there like a soldier.
What is it like in a coal mine? However much I wish we weren’t using coal for climate reasons, I respect those brave souls who risk their lives and ruin their bodies going under so that we can leave the lights on all night and never think twice about it. That is not just hard work, but dangerous work.
I can tell you from personal experience that work in a lab goes from a sort of second gear “do the to do list today” to an overdrive that takes multiple all-nighters in one week and coming home to, if you are lucky, a meal that was cooked for you to heat up. The work is exacting, highly trained, and requires rare talents and skill sets. A small fraction of 1% could do it. No one, who has not done science, can really comprehend how projects can come and absorb almost every moment or the stress, trial and sometimes elation involved. From such activity, all of our technology, modern economy, military prowess and modern lifestyle comes. The pay is not so great either. We almost always work for someone else. We are the “hired help.” They and you, reap the profits. Our reward is in the doing and the creating.
Teachers insure that we bring the benefits of millennia of struggle to get out of the caves to the next generation and insure that we have a future. They are paid terribly for a job that is more demanding and more important than any job pushing paper. How many hours does a good teacher spend worrying over problem children and mentoring the bright ones while dodging venal parents and imbecilic administrators? How much reward does she or he get for it?
The soldier and the sailor keep us safe… and put their lives directly on the line when called to - even if those issuing the call are not always so pure, or the cause so clear. That is hard work and it costs them not just their bodies, but their home lives as well.
No one works harder than the single mother, who has sacrificed her own dreams and works a soul crushing job to support her child and still be a good mother with little or no time to be anything for herself.
Now please compare that to the whiny, self absorbed GOP corporate overlord who does not create anything, discovers no new thing, and would not sacrifice of himself even a little bit of charity. What does this obese, desk driving fellow do that is so important? How hard is that board meeting? What did he create when he sent that arduous memo? How he basks in believing all the gifts of circumstance he has enjoyed are his own and somehow rightfully his own as payment for his trivial labors! He’s never worked a real day in that job and yet is deluded into spitting on those who do work. Cut the firefighters and the teachers! Kill the unions! They do all the work, but why should they get a fair share of the profits! The people doing the work certainly don’t need anything of his share! Lazy women need maternity benefits he scoffs! “She should not have gotten pregnant!” he grouses through his pudgy jowls! Workers are a cheap commodity - why do they need healthcare? But remember, he is pro-family and for the little guy, his propagandists and apologists bleat. Is this plastic souled corporate master who feels so entitled, and so much better, actually nearly as entitled as he thinks, or is it the engineers and the researchers and the guys on the assembly line who do the work? What of the wall street mogul? He makes his money by moving around the money of others. He produces, by definition, nothing at all. He only takes slices of cakes that others baked and believes he is superior for it.
Much has been written here how 50% of America has less than 2% of the wealth. That is everyone with 50k or less a year for their families. How hard do they work? In the mean time, 50% of America’s wealth rests with only 2% at the top. What exactly do those people do that is rightfully worth some orders of magnitude more pay than that single mother does as she suffers through every day to make ends meet? What is so indispensable about them?
I am not talking about the true entrepreneurs. I am talking about all the plastic company men and all the bankers and Wall Street types who think they are so very important and owe nothing to anyone. I am talking about a realistic assessment of what is provided for society by who and who the system currently rewards. I am talking about all those who inherited their wealth and act as if they are amongst the great and good and I’m talking about all the little corporate men with delusions of godhood.
I am especially talking about all the modern day robber barons who plunder the third world and manipulate our politics and buy the system. I am talking about the Kochs of the world and the BP types. I am talking about the ones who have the GOP and Fox marching for them. I am also talking about their little lackeys and propagandists and the smug, simpering sense of entitlement to the fruits of your labors that they affect.
There is a wealthy class in America that is methodically destroying worker’s rights, science, education and our economy in order to crush working and middle America. It is open class warfare. It has been going on for decades. It is obvious in everything they do from killing the jobs bill to fighting for corporate subsidies to trying to pressure the Fed into not helping the middle class. They do this with an unfounded sense of ownership and a smug sense of entitlement when in reality, they themselves contribute little and have a mantra of contributing less as their right.
We do not have a free market economy. As an example, if we did, there would have been all sorts of alternative energy solutions in place years ago. They are cheaper, economy growing, and better for national security. Such things work perfectly well in Germany, Denmark and China for example. Why not here?
We do not have a true republic any more that truly serves the people of this nation. Legally, corporations are people too! As an example, If we did have such a republic, we would not fight bogus wars on false pretences to keep oil companies wealthy. We would not decide that poisoning American water and soil (and hence American citizens!) is less important than the rights of corporations to pollute.
I am all for capitalism. I am all for democracy. These wretched, latter day fascists are for neither.
The Republicans did not build and do not maintain America. We do. They only rapaciously suck at an America they think serves them. They are a party of smug parasites. They think they are entitled to the benefits of others’ work while whining about the “work” they do. Well what work is that? What work do they do that produces or creates or sustains anything?