December 11, 2008
The media has coined a new term, “The great recession.” The media loves terms like that, terms they can use to encapsulate ideas. It allows them to rationalize and generalize, and in this case, minimize.
To call this the great recession is as insulting as calling a train wreck a boo boo. It ignores the pain and suffering that millions of Americans are going through with a vulgar, sugar-coated euphemism.
Displaced worker is another such term. It explains the result without explaining how the worker came to be displaced in the first place. Screwed worker or abandoned worker might be more accurate but the media get it while, at the same time, they remain clueless. How about forgotten worker? Forgotten by the nation of his or her birth, sacrificed for an idea while we abandoned the legacy of “We, the people.”
I drove through Marietta, Georgia yesterday trying to peddle my book at independent bookstores and what I saw was like something from the science fiction movie “I Am Legend,” or “The Omega Man.” A city in full collapse, empty stores, entire shopping centers with grass growing through the asphalt of the parking lots. Restaurants with their signage removed, but as you drove by the still-open businesses you could determine the number of employees by the number of cars in the parking lots.
Tire stores, car rental places, office parks all standing idle. Crown properties have a banner advertising, “Down sizing your office? We can help!” No, they can’t, it’s only their own plea for help, wringing out the sponge because there are really only two kinds of businesses right now, those that have closed and those that are about to close.
I drove by the car lots. The Dodge dealer has already downsized from a large, distinctive building to a smaller, humbler surrounding. Not that it made a difference, there weren’t any customers there, either. They were just buying time, trying to hang on by living on their larder, hoping against hope that things will turn around.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, the big three come hat-in-hand, asking for a loan. Congress squints and wants numbers and the best the automakers can offer is, “If you give us $30 billion we promise to eliminate 30,000 jobs over the next five years.” Republican Congressmen smile and smirk, “Let ’em go under and file for bankruptcy so that they can escape their legacy costs.”
Legacy costs, that’s the elderly and retired. What these smiling jackals are actually seeking is a deathblow to the unions. To steal the pensions from the elderly and the future from their grandchildren, all in one fell swoop.
The O’Reillys ponder the war on Christmas but ignore the war on Americans. The collapsing economy receives intense coverage of Wall Street’s troubles with a complete and abject ignorance of Main Street woes. Most, if not all, retail stores remain profitable dependent on Christmas sales and come January it’s going to blow an ill wind.
Rite Aid spent the last decade buying up their competitors, assuming that they could pay off their debt load by increased market share. Indeed they have increased their market share, but sales are falling. Sears was bought up to rescue a failing K-Mart and the plan worked, but now it is Sears hanging from the precipice.
Reports in the oil industry say that due to falling demand worldwide oil might fall to $25.00 a barrel. From a high of $150.00 per barrel down to $25.00 per barrel, that is a complete market collapse. The oil service sector will be devastated, from drill, baby, drill to out of business, baby, out of business. Just throw them on the pyre, thousands upon thousands losing their jobs daily. More last month than in 26 years, 10,000 a day and still no help from Washington except for extended unemployment benefits. Like the Dodge dealer, it’s hanging on but it’s not a rescue.
This “Great Recession,” as they like to call it, hasn’t even begun yet. The war on Americans is in full swing. From the beating down of wages and benefits to the castrating of labor unions, not just in manufacturing but everywhere. In their zealotry to make America over in the vision of Adam Smith they have overdone it and killed the goose that laid the golden eggs in the process. The combination of outsourcing and the throttling of wages have created a critical mass in our economy and the creators of the term “Great recession” need to start again. How about the nuclear depression, or the depression to end all depressions, or even the victory over the American worker depression?
Still, without realizing why they lost in November, Republicans celebrate their victory over the American worker without understanding that they’ve killed the horse they ride as well. They will find themselves among the ruins with only Sarah Palin to lead them out of the wilderness.
They’ve outrun their supplies. They’ve expended their last cartridge in their victory over the people and now taps blows for them on the bugle. Little do they realize that the battle is not over, the battle is only now about to be joined. Only now is the American worker beginning to understand that this situation is the result of a well-orchestrated plan.
The new administration’s stimulus plan grows by the hour, but do they understand? Do they understand that bailing out banks and industry is no more than pissing on a forest fire? Millions unemployed with millions more about to become unemployed, along with the uncounted millions of tradesmen and sales people who are employed in name only, about to be inducted into the army of the had, the army of the abused, the army of the screwed.
Maybe “The Pivotal Depression” would fit appropriately because before the sun shines again on the American economy there are battles that will need to be fought. Whom does this economy serve? If it doesn’t serve the people then let us dispense with it and build a new one. If we must ride it down into hell then let us leave it there.
I’ve heard all the crap about taxing capital, and point blank, if they want to leave then I hope the door doesn’t hit them in the ass on the way out. The fact of the matter is that we have tried free market capitalism and free trade and it has brought us only to ruin.
These masters of the universe have screwed us blue. They have fucked things up at a level that dwarfs any of the fuck-ups in American history. They’ve made Herbert Hoover look like a brilliant economist and Richard Nixon look like a nice man. They have taken the world’s largest creditor nation and made it the world’s largest debtor nation. Made the world’s most prosperous citizenry among the poorest in the Western world. From a nation of dreamers who planned for a new tomorrow to a nation of scroungers trying to pay the rent with scrap aluminum cans, all while enriching themselves.
The millions who watch Fox News are having their cable turned off as reality trumps lies. The illusionary light of free market capitalism and globalism is extinguished by the cold water of hunger and shut-off utilities. The incoming administration needs to plan for feeding centers and millions upon millions of MRE’s along with a complete moratorium on home foreclosures. They must remember and take to heart that those with nothing have nothing to lose, and that the life of a rich man in a poor world is worth less than the life of a poor man.
To look now with new eyes and fully to understand that this is not “The great recession,” as the bellicose, cutie-pie media whores croon, but the shadow of an apocalypse.
Who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that I am really. Given a front row seat for the generation of the 1960’s I lived in Chicago in 1960. My father was a Democratic precinct captain, my mother an election judge. His father had been a Union organizer and had been beaten and jailed for his efforts. His first time in jail was for punching a Ku Klux Klansman during a parade in the 1930’s. I never felt as if I was raised in a family of activists but seeing it print makes me think, yes. That is a part of who I am.
We find ourselves today living in a world treed by the hounds of madness, a complicit media covering contrite parties. Multilevel media, giving more access to communication yet stunting actual communication. More noise, less voice, more sound less music, more law less justice, more medicine less life.