27 04 2009

Not too long ago a friend said I had “drunk the kool-aid” by voting for Barack Obama for president. “No way”, I said, “He’s the candidate of The Little Man!”

That’s what my father used to call Democratic politicians. He had been a young man during the Depression, and he had plenty of direct reason to know how much The Little Man needs help under capitalism.

The reason for that need is obvious: Capitalism works by Capital paying for and organizing the work of Labor. The two social classes are symbiotic. But there are very few people around who are wealthy enough to be important capitalists, and there are many millions of laborers. It’s easy for the few capitalists to reach and enforce a consensus among themselves about wages, working conditions, etc., and extremely hard for the millions of working people to do so.

So capitalists have a terrific bargaining advantage when they go looking for labor. They set the terms of employment essentially single-handedly. If you don’t like the pay they’re offering, there’s always another person around the corner who will. And if you turn down x job at pay $y, chances are you won’t find it paying more anywhere else.

In the 1930s unions, aided by a Democratic federal government, balanced the power levels a bit more equally, but that has long gone by the wayside. Republicans have been elected and re-elected, and have indeed gotten “the government off our backs”. So for decades people who are not wealthy have been losing assets and income. The increasing ability of business over the last decade to export jobs to the cheapest possible foreign labor markets has greatly exacerbated this problem.

Against that background I, a lifelong worker, can be excused for hoping that a Democratic president would redress the imbalance. What I forgot was MONEY. With American labor unions moribund, there’s now nowhere for Democratic politicians to get all the money it takes to run for office except from wealthy people — and that is what the Democratic Party has been doing for the last twenty years.

The Little Man, in short, can no longer finance a whole campaign, so now we have government by and for the rich. Sure, Democrats when in power improve things a bit for workers on the margins, but they always know which side their bread is buttered on. This is gradually being made obvious to me by such sources as this:


and this:


and finally this:


I thought I’d found the edge of the desert. In fact all I’d found was an Obama oasis.



8 03 2009

Surely two more different people are hard to imagine. In fact I think they represent the two extremes of the American male personality: the good old boy and the analyzing intellectual.

Bush is — or more likely chose at some point in his life to act like — the classic Texas shit-kicker. I remember those guys well from growing up in Texas! They are strong and silent. But underneath that they are explosively emotional. They don’t know much about anything except business (which they often know a very great deal about indeed). When put in a tight spot they can be vindictive, even dangerous.

On the other side is a classic type from back east: articulate, elegant, widely-knowledgeable, and highly self-controlled. Many of our best technocrats are probably like this. And so are lots of people with Old Money (some of whom I met many years ago in college). Yet, through a delicious irony, Bush, having chosen to doff his inherited persona of Old — or  in his case Middle Aged — Money, has been succeeded in the highest office in the land by a man who comes from the lower middle class yet acts like a gentleman.

How could one People have elected two such different men in succession? I think the answer in the case of Bush is very clear. He was what a bunch of very scared and angry Americans called out for to save them. After being traumatized by the 9/11 attacks, we wanted someone tough to go somewhere, anywhere!, and whip some Arab ass. Bush, having chosen much earlier in his life to portray primitive American manhood, was just the man to embody our rage. He proceeded to act as ragefully as we could have wished, so we re-elected him in 2004.

Easy to understand.

But what about Obama, the cool, elegant, mixed-raced, smart guy? How could a country with a history of racism, and a streak of anti-intellectualism as wide as the Mississippi River, possibly have elected him President? I’m 61 years old, and the only time I remember our picking such a president in my lifetime was when Jack Kennedy (a Catholic, and therefor arguably unelectable at the time) was elected in 1960, whereupon his urbanity proceeded to charm the nation.

Needless to say, I have a theory about why Obama made it. Read my next post on this subject and see what you think about it.


4 11 2008

I constantly hear online posters say this about Republican v. Democrat. True, today they are both servants of the corporations. On the other hand, when you’re just a field hand, the nature of the overseer can make a huge difference in your life, despite his being THE consummate do-er of the Master’s will.

Friend, you’re a field hand, modern version. You may think you’re an “entrepreneur”, free American, independent person and voter, boss rather than underling, hard worker rather than welfare cheat, strong rather than weak, etc., etc. But the fact is, in the USA unless you’re wealthy–with enough actual capital to live out the rest of your life in comfort on–then you’re just a worker. A worker might have any of a vast number of lifestyles, ranging all the way up to highly affluent—but unfortunately “have” in this context normally means no more than,”Keep it ’til my Master decides to take it away.”

And that means that what those who transmit the Masters’ rules to you do “on the margins” while performing their essential duty of keeping you slaving away can make your life hell, merely unpleasant, or even in some cases relatively pleasant.

So now take a look at what the more strict party of overseers is doing on its ignominious way out:

So Much Damage