Thursday, January 16, 2014

21st Century America: Hungrier and More Desperate

by Pa Rock

My mother worked when my sister and I were little.  She and my dad had grown up in the Great Depression, and though they could have gotten along on just my dad's salary, they knew that two salaries would make it much easier to get ahead.

Fifty years later it takes at least two salaries just to break even.

Today the Republican party routinely exacerbates America's fragile economic situation by subsidizing big corporations who then turn around and ship their jobs overseas.  And when American workers find the jobs have disappeared, the Republicans demonize them as lazy and defund unemployment insurance - all the while sabotaging any Democratic attempts to pass a jobs bill.  It is a vicious cycle - one that the little guy cannot win.

Yesterday I encountered a man who was probably just trying to get by.   I had just left the grocery store and instead of pushing the cart to my car, I removed the several bags of groceries and carried them to the car on my own.  As I got to my car I noticed this guy parked in the traffic lane behind me talking to another shopper.  I assumed he was asking directions.

I had several bags of groceries in one hand, one bag in my teeth (really!), and the car key in my "free" hand.  I was trying to get the car unlocked when I noticed the guy in the car was trying to get my attention.  I looked up, and he said, "Put your groceries away and then I need to talk to you."  I couldn't help noticing that another car was stuck behind him waiting on the driver to move his vehicle.

After getting the groceries situated, I walked over to the guy in the car.  I went to the driver's side, giving the stuck driver room enough (barely) to get around.  Because he had traffic blocked, I suspected that it might be more that just a directions request.  When I got to the driver, he pointed at my car and commented on the faded look of my bumper - saying "I have something that could fix that."

I didn't react in a hostile manner - which might have been justified.  Rather, I just turned and walked away with a brisk "No, thank you" without waiting to hear about whatever product the guy was pitching.   I felt ashamed of that rude response later when I thought about ti and realized that the fellow was just another desperate American trying to get by.

As the middle class continues to disappear and the gap between rich and poor widens, there will be more and more desperate Americans fighting for survival in plain sight.  The 1930's are cycling back, and at some point the government will have to quit dumping on the poor - or face the consequences.

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

Perhaps the first scholarly work presenting formal theory in the field of political science was Anthony Downs' An Economic Theory of Democracy, published in 1957. One of the Downs' concepts was that democratic societies tend to redistribute income. Since the Reagan administration the United States has systematically redistributed income to the upper echelons through manipulation of tax rates, creation of tax loopholes, deregulation of the financial sector, Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and its progeny, and the creation of so-called free trade agreements. History is repeating itself and if Americans begin voting for their self interests, and quit being divided by wedge arguments, then we can restore prosperity to the people.

In the meantime you are correct, we need to be nice to one another.