Saturday, January 19, 2008


Some of you may have noticed that the primary season has begun. It makes me go to extremes – either I am hooked to debates, repulsed by the bald-faced lies, or extremely disillusioned with the whole stinking process.

Among all the tidbits and tangential stories I’ve heard, the thing I'm most struck by – so far – is what a bunch of cowering mice so many Americans have become. Today, NPR ran this story on how residents of Lancaster County, South Carolina, are coping with the close of their largest employer. I was disheartened to hear how they responded to being fired with a couple of days notice (their former employer presently dismantled the machinery to ship off to Brazil). They sat back and took it. Many made references to a higher power and to faith. God, I guess, wants them to be unemployed? Admittedly, they have few options (although conflagration of the remaining distribution warehouse jumps to mind). But the option they chose lets the company off the hook and chalks this up to “no one’s fault.”

They're not alone. I’m also reading Ehrenreich on white-collar unemployment/underemployment (somewhere around 15% of the workforce) and she observes the same thing. People are so desperate to find a new job that they don’t care about the business (and economic and social) trends that got them there. What I want to know is what happened to their courage, their indignity? Why is there no roar of opposition? Did it dissipate along with post-war consumerism? Is the fact that we have no concerted counter to these trends due to three generations of (relatively) strong employment? Is this because of FDR? Did the New Deal – and aftermath – make us think that a strong executive wheeling the power of *GOVERNMENT* would protect us? What happened to these people? I don't (can't) believe they've always been like this.

(On a lighter note, view this ad for "new Bush coins.")

1 comment:

Rachel said...

A lot of people are just apathetic. They figure they can't stop globalization or the loss of American jobs, and don't take the time to examine their own spending habits to figure out one way they could make a difference. But then, you have to believe you can make a difference to bother, and most people don't. So. Apathy. :)