Last year while I and 10 percent of the population was unemployed, my dad’s company laid off 10 percent of their entire workforce, mostly working class laborers and administrative assistants who were barely scraping by before the recession.
In response, my dad’s big boss…bought an NFL football team for a half a billion dollars. His direct boss, the Executive VP of the company bought a yacht and a summer home…in Aruba…after selling his summer home in the Hamptons.
In America this is ok.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I grew up in a very wealthy family. Unlike some of my friends who grew up in the wealth I did, I learned not to take my good graces for granted. I was lucky to be privileged. The dice could have rolled the other way and I would not have been able to survive as I had these last few years. It is because of my family’s wealth that I was not only able to stay out of homeless shelters and soup kitchens in the past year, but I was also able to stay in my apartment in Brooklyn. Now that I’m back on my feet and back to living comfortably, is it wrong of me to throw my support behind initiatives that help those who aren’t as fortunate as I was?
Where I come from, that answer, sadly, appears to be…yes.
I was originally going to call this post “The Ridiculous Right,” but after sitting through a dinner last night with my father and his multi-millionaire executives (and multibilloinare CEO), I realized that those who dominate the tea parties, the GOP, the conservative movement, and, at the moment, the polls are not ridiculous. They are selfish, rapacious, hateful, spiteful, individualistic and careless. They make you wonder how they can set foot in churches and synagogues and claim to their God that they care about others. They are not even fit to call themselves children of God.
For someone who was raised in the wealthy privileged bubble that I was, it is really easy to adapt the idea that your privilege is owed to you. In fact, I noticed many parents bringing up their kids at home on Long Island to believe their money, their social status, makes them better than anyone with less financial assets than them, and many believe it.
For many of my friends and neighbors, their belief is their wealth and privilege is something that can be achieved by everyone if they just “try” and “work hard.” They don’t see the sheer luck that existed for many of them to get to where they are. For more than a few, they were born into money, which of course made it easier for them to go to college, wait around for the perfect paying job, or use connections to get into a good college and get a good job. For others, it was just as easy as being the right place at the right time, or meeting a shrewd investment banker who knew where to put your money and when. But for nearly all of them, including my own family, it did not require working any harder or any longer than most Americans who struggle day to day. Those Americans are no less deserving of healthcare, of a quality education, no less deserving of a vehicle to get around, heat to warm their homes, good food to eat, etc…but in Smithtown, New York, they are. Why should the prviledged have to give up their moeny for the less fortunate? They should’ve been luckier!
A lecture on people’s “hard earned money” from people who hardly earned any of their money.
For my dad’s bosses, the money they made, through the blood, sweat and tears of workers, is theirs and only theirs for them to do whatever they please, like buy a football team. They have no sense of responsbility to the workers who help build the company that allowed them to buy a football team or a mansion in Oranjestad. They have no sense of responsibility to invest their money into the suffering industry and suffering population that helped make them rich in the first place. It’s THEIR money. Instead they’ll tell you by buying a football team (that only the well off can afford to go see) is inveesting in their workers. Unfortunately for them, none of their ex employees can partake in football games or trips to Aruba, so really no one is helped except themselves.
For capitalism to work, the workers need the aristocracy and the aristocracy need the workers, but we’ve reached a place where the aristocracy, through outsourcing, tax breaks, and investing, no longer need workers, but workers still need the rich.
The question that bogs my mind is why this feeling permeates not only among the wealthy, but among the working class to, those “Real Americans” Sarah Palin keeps alluding to? In a normal situation, when that check and balance is broken, the working class would rise up and get it back, see France 1789, Russia 1917, Hungary 1956…but what happens when the working class decides to not fight back, and just accepts living as pawns of the rich as a part of society?
For one thing, it is a stigma in this country to be in need. In a nation where people would rather get lost in bad neighborhoods than ask for directions, a nation where we go to meetings in church basements to anonymously admit our problems, asking for help, or admitting that you need it, makes you less of a person.
So it should be no surprise that when Democrats go to lower middle class, working class, areas of the country, their campaign of “we’re coming to help you” is met with a lot of anger and rage. How dare the Democratic Party claim we need their help? Are they saying we can’t take care of ourselves? Are they saying we’re not hard workers, we’re not responsible, we’re lazy? We’re welfare queens?
At the end of the day. Democrats exist to help the working class, but what happens when many in the working class don’t want the help or are convinced the help won’t come from the government, but from the rich who have no intention of actually helping them? Rather buy football teams and take a “sucks for you” attitude toward the working class workers who still seem to think they want to help them.
I’m not calling for a working class revolt, though I’d like to see it happen at the polls, but just maybe, the reason we aren’t seeing progressive legislation getting through Congress not because of corporate donations or corporate politicians or whatever negative cynical reason the Hamsher/Sirota/Bruh contigency can give you, but because the very people who should be fighting for this legislation are fighting against it alongside the artistrocracy that slaps them around.