Move up in the world. Get ahead. Make something of yourself.
The above subtitles have been brought to you by, you guessed it, the modern day saga of Capitalism, that good ole boy mythology of mass industrialization, promoted by the corporate white man’s brotherhood which entices, then denies, liberally, especially to people of color, then women and most certainly children, but also Joe Schmo,that guy with just enough education to make him work hard enough to take the wife on a three day cruise, falsely believing the golden bull’s horn is within their grasp. Just take a look around you. But first you’ll have to open your eyes and peek in the mirror.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I was well nursed on the story, bought into the whole kit and kaboodle then tempted by the crumbs and invested a good part of my youth, middle age and hard earned money into perpetuating the oh so flawed idea that anyone can make it. But how? And no, I didn’t have to see, first hand, people clawing to the top, stepping on friends, leaving them disgruntled, dismayed and discombobulated, but then again I did, see them, and sometimes, more and more, often, I became disgusted and most certainly disenfranchised by the ugliness and inhumanity of it all. This image repeating itself, job to job, industry to industry, so easily cloned.
I’ve been a worker, a spender, a saver and an investor, having been taxed again and again only to see my taxes go into the deep pockets of those greedy 1% SOB’s, instead of to society’s children so desperately and collectively holding hands out for their truly fair share. The roads erode, the schools fail, the hospitals crowd, the people starve and so on. Those who couldn’t or could, can or can’t, but not so well, read the not so fine print, have suffered, are still suffering and will continue to do so until, things change, for the better. Will they?
I am fortunate. I, personally, have enough and share what I have, currently. I say that because in these uncertain days of Covid and corruption, I cannot feel secure, totally. But more troubling than my own security is the countless tents I view under freeways, in vacant lots, on the medians occupied by so many dear souls who wanted, possibly still on some level want, desperately to buy into the story of “Making something of themselves”, but then didn’t or did and then lost what they had for whatever reason, you name it…You’re probably right, but please don’t be so fucking judgmental because there fore but the grace….go you or I, maybe sooner than you think.
“And the waters rose, full of the waste humanity left behind, and they had nowhere to go but up the crowded mountain where people fought one another to stay alive… and beyond, but not so far away a bigger war raged, the youth having been sent there by the corporate government whose folly knew no limits…” I wrote this thinking of the novel I just read which more or less, at least to me, speaks volumes of the truthful story in which we live today or soon will.
I occasionally hear, from those still clinging to the tale of fortune and fame, that unbridled capitalism is a good thing, as they tsk tsk at the talk of people who are homeless stating, “…crazy drug addicts, don’t give em any money because they’ll use it to buy drugs” as they fearfully forget or blissfully ignore or not care or are too ill-educated, that statistically speaking, people who are housed, loved, supported, and honored are less likely to become or continue to be substance abusers with a safety net. Funny too, but not haha, that if they even realized that those without homes are far more generous than so many with a roof. I have witnessed this and I cried until I was angry and then took action.
Years ago, I befriended a wonderful fifty-five year old man, Len Doucette* who had been chronically without a home since being severely injured by a hit and run in San Francisco while working as a clerk for a law firm – he was in his thirties when it happened. He had gotten out of the hospital after many weeks of recuperating only to discover his job was gone, he had been evicted and his car was impounded for parking violations. Thus began his saga. He once believing in the myth of capitalism, went to college after a difficult childhood, estranged by family, went to work every day to “get ahead” until the accident changed everything. He was neither a drunk nor drug addict nor mentally messed up, surprisingly, after so many years on the street. Instead, perhaps by some fluke or grace, he was determined to support himself and help others on the street.
I gave him shelter on and off, when he wasn’t across town or feeling too proud, but especially when the weather was shitty, until he, at the age of sixty-five he met a widow whom he married because they were in love. She gave him a home and a future – he’d had neither for over thirty years on the street. Even with a roof over his head he continued to advocate for the unhoused until he died from the ill effects of too many years without health care or nutrition or shelter or love.
Now, but so the dystopian novels I’ve been reading, the real and very elitist business of making money, is causing unemployment, eviction and starvation. And yet this is being blamed on a virus that neither knows nor cares about PEOPLE. But who doesn’t care? Is it the virus or the promoters, the 1%? Of course,… it is not exactly your landlord or banker or boss who has himself bought or possibly syndicated the story, they are just facile tools to accomplish the needs of the corrupt corporate Virus. A plague upon us that calls itself human when it is truly a well oiled money machine, bent on thriving, at our expense.
We poor schmucks have been carefully infected with a belief system that is deadly to care, to be considerate for others, unless they look, think, sound, feel, believe as we. Pit us against each other to get ahead of who? Why? To keep us busy so the myth and machine keep working.
Yes, if moving up means getting above someone else then isn’t the system deeply flawed? How can we get “ahead” if our societal brothers and sisters are left “behind” to wallow in misery? Will we not pay for this eventually? How can we consider ourselves honorable or just or caring …or “Christian” or even human if we don’t reach out and help all?
Give a man a fish..Yeah, Yeah. I know but you cannot teach anyone to fucking fish if they are perpetually hungry or have no place safe from the elements be it excessive heat or cold!
Speaking of teaching…how can we teach when the teachers are underpaid, overworked and given inferior tools to raise a mind, a body, a spirit to be inspired to learn? How can we teach when the schools for those children of they who’ve “made it” are far superior to those who haven’t. Yep, if you live on the East side, wrong side of the tracks, ghetto, on the flats, near the dump, downtown, in the sticks, your kid’s education ain’t gonna amount to much, especially if you’re working 2-3 jobs and don’t have time to help with homework. Angry kids, angry teachers, angry parents all pointing fingers but in the wrong direction. Never before have we seen the value of public education degrade so quickly.
And we thought the feudalism of the Middle Ages was passé. Ha. Nope, it just changed it’s name. The overlords now, the white ruddy faced men wear suits and ties, the few women who have nail brokenly climbed in their pencil skirts and heels to the top. Of? Who cares?
Those hopeful youth, having failed at a failing school have “great” choice for their future, of military (to fight wars to perpetuate the greed that made their school what it was not what it could’ve been – a place for learning and invention), to work multiple fast food or other unskilled jobs, or to crime, once caught landing them in plantation-prisons to work for pittance so a corporate entity can get ahead. Wow.
To keep things in its own perspective, Capitalism hates Socialism. Why? Because the two are deeply at odds with one another. The “good” myth of capitalism promises “a chicken (any caged, hormone fucked cluck will do) in every pot”, if one works hard, with their nose to the grindstone…yet even the most diligent often can’t even find a pot for the damn bird, or one to piss in. Nor, when they are sick from working undervalued overtime, fairly utilize the warped system of health which either turns them away or further impoverishes them in its “care”. The modern form of debtors prison is implemented across the nation, sometimes it is a tent in a median and other times it is actual prison. I kid you not.
The reality of socialism just promises a healthy chicken and a pot, justice, health, economy. What do you want?
My choice is clear.
*Len Doucette (1936-2004) a long time homeless activist. He led many demonstrations and was a plaintiff in a successful 1992 lawsuit against the City of Santa Monica for making it a crime to feed the homeless. Len was founder of one of LA’s first homeless newspapers, Hard Times, which later became Making Change. I was privileged to call him my friend.