It seems I touched a sensitive nerve in my last commentary about media’s responsibility in helping create America’s poor and homeless. Criticism came from regular readers and from the local newspaper I mentioned.
Let me, therefore, establish a firm foundation for the position I presented in that commentary. Again, I quote from Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson’s article, “What Kind of Country Do We Want” in the current New York Review of Books.
About American workers, she writes the following:
“Their earnings should be sufficient to allow them to shape some part of their lives around their interests. Yet workers’ real wages have fallen for decades in America.”
“This is rationalized by the notion that wages are a burden on the economy, a burden in our supposed competition with China and with good reason, because there was also a transfer of American investment to China.”
Referring to the issue of America’s Polarization, she concludes:
“It is a virtual institutionalization in America of the ancient practice of denying working people the real or potential value of their work.”
Ms. Robinson makes a meticulously articulated argument about the causes of America’s poor workers. She lays it right at the feet of the wealthy handful of financial figures (without naming them the 1% as Bernie Sanders does) who – through interlocking corporate directorates – own some 90% of all assets of America.
She gets right to the gut of the problem. These financials constitute the backbone of Conservatism. And they enforce it through the idea of austerity. The austere part is, of course, withholding adequate funds from workers to sustain themselves.
She defines the theory of austerity:
“Wealth can be broadly shared prosperity, or it can be closely held, private, effectively underwritten by the cheapening of the labor of the non-rich.”
She clarifies how the wealthy become wealthy:
“ . . . this wealth is . . . a product of national policies — favorable taxation, imaginative banking regulations, and low production costs, including the depressed wages and lowered safety and environmental standards.”
Eventually she makes her most meaningful point about the result of this in plain English:
“Averaging helicopters, yachts, and offshore accounts against imminent eviction would not yield a meaningful result.”
And I add my two cents to her words:
The entire concept of any nation, definitely of our United States, is to create a safe haven among the ever-present predators of the world, first and foremost for the citizens of our country, and after accomplishing that, in our professed instance, to as many others of the world as we are able.
Modern American big business capitalism is abdication of loyalty to our own poor and to underpaid workers. This capitalist cabal has created a culture that has enticed us all into an abdication of our responsibilities to one another.
Ms. Robinson ends her article with tasteful restraint:
“All this comes down to the need to recover and sharpen a functioning sense of justice based on a reverent appreciation of humankind, all together and one by one.”
Regarding the corporate cabal’s “austerity-for-workers” philosophy, I contribute a less restrained conclusion:
If America’s idle wealthy do not reverse their abdication of responsibility for the continuing decimation of America’s democracy and the safety of its people, I believe the present unrest we are experiencing is only the beginning of something they are going to personally experience in a most uncomfortable manner.
Workers, minorities, and the poor of America are nearing a point of no return. Things must change. We are all either on the side of all of us, or we or not: particularly our intellectually deficient president and our brutish police force.
Any unenlightened middle class Americans continuing to glorify our oppressive predatory culture of wealth are going to discover they have chosen the wrong side of this issue. Capitalists must get back on board the American ship of state. Or its deck hands are going to mutiny and replace Capitalism.
And I don’t think they will do so with any excess of gentile manners.