The Two Political Spectrums

2008-Jul-24

For decades we have assumed the political spectrum ranged from Liberal to Conservative, and assumed that all political groupings from the Klan to the Commies could be squeezed into that spectrum.

Well, we are about to discover that the importance of the Liberal/Conservative spectrum is becoming secondary to the far more primordial spectrum, that of the Haves vs Have-Nots. Yes, we will still have elections decided on the issue of whether gay guys should be able to have abortions on demand, but when people have to decide whether their kids will get food or medicine this week, at least some of them will get the picture that they must (at least temporarily) set aside their differences and concentrate on physical survival.

We used to have a middle class in this country. But no one will die middle class any longer. In a generation, all middle class jobs will be done by cheap imported or offshored labor for a fraction of their current wages, and anyone who manages to last until retirement will find anything they saved will be eaten up inflated food or energy or transportration costs, by medical costs not reimbursed by their medical plan, or they will have to sign over all their assets to some nursing home.

No need to worry about the “death tax” because only the super-rich will have anything left but debts when they die.

I’m seeing small groups of people starting to get together, getting past old differences, and cooperating on getting ready to survive the coming hard times. I’m seeing networks where leftie Pagans are getting with right-wing Fundie Christians on common issues.

The coming wars (acknowledged or not) will be between the top one tenth of one percent who will own everything and the rest of us who will own nothing…not even ourselves.

If those of us who are prey can get together soon enough to defend ourselves from the predators, we have a chance to make a society with a substantial middle class again and lessen the growing inequality. But so far it’s just a chance…


The (Former) Economics of Child Care

2008-Jul-18

When I was a rug rat, my mother got divorced and got very little in child support. She managed to get a job at the “Five and Dime” and got paid a dollar an hour (this was a while ago…), making forty dollars a week.

She had to find a babysitter for me. The babysitter she found got paid twenty dollars a week, and babysat four children, making eighty dollars a week total. Twice what my mother was getting. Half of my mother’s weekly wage. Back then babysitting was a reasonable job. Not any longer.

At one time, service jobs paid a living wage. Until the “haves” decided that they could get away with paying less than a living wage. When there are ten jobs and nine workers, wages and benefits rise. No matter what laws you pass. When there are ten workers and nine jobs, wages and benefits fall. If you bring workers in from other countries, you can guarantee a surplus of labor, and you can guarantee that wages and benefits and worker protections will fall. No matter what laws you pass.


Hillary vs Michelle

2008-Jul-13

Over at Midwest Voices comes the complaint about “the ongoing girl-fight between white feminists and feminists of color.”

Women of all races and ages better find a way to understand one another and move ahead together as genuine equals.

My own personal vignette on the issue:

I spent three years of my academic career living in a co-ed dorm at Bryn Mawr College. In 1969 Bryn Mawr students (and some of us Haverfordian guys) started the “Bryn Mawr College Women’s Studies Group” which did many good things, including agitating to get a Womens Studies curriculum started at Bryn Mawr.

The college agreed, and in its infinite wisdom brought in Kate Millett the following year to conduct a Sociology of Women class and discuss her new book, Sexual Politics“.

A few minutes into the first class meeting, a Black woman, confused by the hate spewing from Kate’s mouth regarding all men, including Black men, and the need to avoid men at all costs, asked Kate, “Are you saying that we Black women have to choose between supporting our Black brothers and our white sisters?” And Kate answered, “Yes, you have to support your white sisters, and you cannot support your Black brothers. You simply have to choose.”

At that point every Black women in the class (pretty much every Black woman at Bryn Mawr at the time) walked out, never to been seen again in the Women’s Movement. And after Kate’s class, the Women’s Studies group lost all the credibility it had started with, and I have no idea how long it took to recover, if it ever did.

The women’s movement, at Bryn Mawr and elsewhere, was never able to come to grips with its Eleventh Commandment, “Thou shalt never speak ill of another feminist,” … no matter how far over the edge someone went. The white women in that class ought to have walked out to support their Black sisters, but they didn’t. They just sat there, in stunned befuddlement at the ironic fruits of their labors of the previous year.

And so, in their inaction, they allowed the forces of hate to become the public face of feminism.

That happened all too often over the years.

And apparently a vocal minority with the desire to make enemies rather than friends is still there. And so still is the desire of the many not to make waves within the movement by confronting the issue.


Moving to the Center?

2008-Jul-01

The “move to the center” by Barack Obama is all over the news. Bullshit. He’s not moving to any “center”. He’s moving to the extreme, as expected. He is moving away from his political roots as a community organizer to the same place all politicians go as soon as it looks like they may get to a position of power. He is moving to support the interests of the extreme. The extreme of wealth and power. He is moving to support the interests of the wealthiest and most powerful one tenth of one percent in our country, those whose annual income is over three million dollars a year.

And that is not the center, no matter if every politician at the national level claims it is. It is the extreme.

The center is the ninety percent of us who are employed but who are making less than one hundred thousand a year. And pretty much no one at the national level is moving toward that “center”.