Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ordinary people, the latest "endangered species" at the hands of the wealthy

There is a now embedded attitude in the contemporary culture on both sides of the 49th parallel that says, "I have money so I will simply get my way!"
It shows up in television phoney's like Kevin O'Leary, and it shows up in political campaigns with people like the Koch Brothers, and it demonstrates itself in the utterly contemptuous manner in which some people negotiate a business transaction. The "manner" is to heap contempt on the other party, as if the other party is merely an inconvenience to the force of will of the person with the money. Anything, it would seem, that stands in the way of the person who has more than the other 99% of the people on the planet, rendering that 1%, probably in their own minds, as "platinum stars" while the rest of the mortals who breathe the same air and who drink the same water, and who mostly do the grunge work getting our hands dirty, and our backs sore, and our lungs filled with whatever chemical contaminant that infects the workplace, and whose "take-home" pay envelope provides barely enough to feed the family, keep the heat on and put a minimum of clothes on everyone, and experience that "patronizing" and utterly arrogant look and attitude from the 1%, who may or may not even know what they are doing.
These individuals, coming from wealth through inheritance, or coming to wealth through their own commitment to its attainmment, with or without the kind of celebrity that accompanies both O'Leary and the Koch's, stride the planet as if they were the most recent rendition of a colossus. The rest of us, it seems, are here to serve their every need, through our compliance with their political agenda, or with our compliance with their superior attitude, their "air" of contempt for those of meagre means, by remaining silent as they speed past us in their own traffic lane, aided and abetted by the political class, whose very existence is, in turn, directly dependent on the largesse of the cheques these rich folk write, to underwrite the campaigns for election.
So, the corporations pour billions into lobbying efforts to pad their revenue streams, or to avoid paying their fair share, while wealthy individuals hire the best and the brightest lawyers and accountants to preserve their exclusive access to loopholes, and to dodges that would make them an integral part of the society and culture in which they live.
These people are not members of any national state society and culture; they are the new "uberclass" that literally moves their money around without having to pay adherence to state boundaries, to state laws, to state taxs requirements and to building the kind of infrastructure that has held our society and culture together for at least the last two hundred years.
They don't care about the existence of and access to quality health care for all; after all they have their own hired physicians who have access to their own hospital facilities when needed.
They don't care about the existence of and access to quality post-secondary education; they, after all, have their own private institutions to which they donate substantially, in order for their own offspring to have the same "advantages" they have enjoyed.
They don't care about some climate catastrophe or some act of terrorism so long as they are not directly and personally impacted; after all, they live in gated communities, with their own security protection, with their own clubs and social lives, hob-nobbing with others who can afford to "pass not only the Joneses" but eviscerate them on the way up.
They don't care about their spiritual lives, (being joined at the political hip with those in the ecclesiastical hierarchy) and actually glaze over when asked about the direction, need and aspirations for their spiritual growth.
They could care less about the school crossing guards; after all, their children either live in residence in some private school somewhere, or are driven to school by their family chauffeur.
They also could care less about the fire and police protection of the rest of us, and the quality and performance of their public school teachers and administrators, not having to interact with any of these people, preferring to hire their own surrogates, and thereby avoid enmeshment with the ordinary folk.
If there is some book, or periodical which has garnered some stir among those of their class, they might ask for an executive summary, from one of their staffers, but otherwise, they could care less about the quality and quantity of excellent writing that is emerging from the many cultural hubs around the world.
With respect to science, they are interested in investing in those researches that might prove profitable in the capitalist market, through which initiatives, owned and reserved to their capitalist empires, they might pile more profit and wealth on their already substantial piles.
Similarly with advances in medicine, where their philanthropy might initiate some research (with a required tax break!) they are again looking for their "profit-edge" in the final outcomes, not some development that might cure disease or relief pain and discomfort of the other 1%.
Should they be engaged in other forms of philanthropy, as in funding museums and art galleries, (family names prominently displayed as epitaphs to their wealth and legacy) they are both discreet and even secretive about the hidden agendas to which their recipients must pay obeisance.
Consequently, they are obsessed with the embedding of their value system, the value system of pursuing capitalism, for profit ventures, avoiding social responsibilities both personally and corporately, to the point that they are in effect conducting a scorched-earth war against the labour movement, the environmental movement, the United Nations and all forms of international co-operation, the removal of a social conscience from all public and private institutions, the elimination of all those who refuse to "dance their ballet" through resisting their private funds for political office, and their private funds for support for specific causes or issues.
Without firing a single weapon, and without conducting a single national or international referendum, these "magnates" or "potentates" are, at a speed that would utterly amaze the contemporary "toynbee's" of the history departments in the best universities, conducting what amount to nothing short of a coup-d'etat, only not it is not merely a single "state" that they are taking over, it is the world's economy and political system that they are making the instrument of their own agenda.
And the rest of us, those idealists among us who actually believe that clean air and water, and land, and access to quality health care and education, as well as the dignity of work in a workplace that respects its labour are becoming like the do-do birds, extinct, not withstanding the volume of our voices, indiviudally and collectively, nor the insight and the poetry of our commitment, nor the persistence and the life-giving striving of our sisters and brothers in every corner of the planet.
And there is not even a formal study to determine the date by which our kind will have completely disappeared, just like all the other languages, dialects, species and ecosystems that have atrophied, or actually gave up on life, after resisting the rape and pillage of these social, political and cultural dinosaurs, whose greed, and appetite for more cannot be even curtailed, let alone stopped.
We are facing our own demise, and like Hagar Shipley in Margaret Laurence's "The Stone Angel" we will never stop fighting for what we believe, for what we know is our birthright, for what we know is our legitimate inheritance, no matter how many millions of wealthy scions are produced like sausages in the top business and legal schools in the world.
They are not the reason our forefathers fought and struggled to plant their foot on the soil we know as our homeland; they are not the reason that we graduated from our own undergraduate and graduate schools; they are not the reason that we and our forefathers and mothers built the cathedrals, or wrote the oratorios, or dictated the epic poems, or enacted the tragedies and comedies of the Globe Theatre when they were written by the great bard.
In fact, the ordinary people populated those performances, 'in the pit' having forked over the smallest 'ticket price' because they "got it" and were able to appreciate what the great bard was saying.
And it will be ordinary people, those of us without the gates in front of our neighbourhoods, without the four car garages on the sides of our houses, without the private school emblems emblazoned on our foreheads, without the 'special' rings of graduation on our fingers that guarantee employment from those previously granted those special rings, without the retirement accounts that could feed the starving and cure the dying of their multiple diseases.
And we will never stop making our own case, in our own meager and humble manner....very different from the manner in which we are treated by those who know only contempt for us and our failures to accomplishment by their standards.

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