Recently, we helped a family member move from a large house into an apartment. Seeing his attachment to things that had no significant value was sobering, and it woke me from a long slumber. Once the move was finished, I started purging stuff from my own life. Too often, we keep things because we may want to … Continue reading
So the other day I was reading a column by one of the several worthy commentators in this page’s notable stable of conservative thinkers.
This column propounded that what these occupiers protest is the greed by which a few people make conspicuously large sums of money and fashion an income gap between themselves and the rest. But the column said greed is irrelevant. It said that what the occupiers actually protest is the universal American practice of trying to get ahead. It asserted that these occupiers never explain how big a gap between the rich and the rest is too big.
But it seems to me that, while they surely vary, these occupiers don’t necessarily protest anybody’s greed. That’s a personal flaw. Nor do they protest anyone’s success. That’s a personal victory.
Instead they rise against unfair and destructive governmental policy that inordinately favors the already-rich at the expense of everyone else, thus fashioning and exacerbating an unhealthy, unsustainable and undemocratic gap between the rich few and the other many.
How big a gap is too big? If the gap is bigger than it would be naturally, essentially and inevitably without political favoritism and artificial political enhancement—that’s when it is too big.
By wealth-favoring political practices and public policies, I cite:
Across-the-board tax cuts that lavish the richest with most of the manna.
Concessions to a global economy by which American corporations pay no price for abandoning American workers and by which corporations are judged by a stock price or dividend instead of local community responsibility. Many of our job losses result from a pattern by which corporations secure themselves against another American economic meltdown by hoarding record profits generated in partnership with compliant, moneyaddicted politicians.
An incestuous Washington culture in which you can hardly tell the elected politicians from the corporate policy advocates. The only thing voters accomplished by defeating Blanche Lincoln was to make her more money and perhaps more influential. Now she spouts her banal platitudes for pay from the National Association of Independent Business.
Campaign finance laws that enable the richest and the corporations to remain anonymous as they contribute unrestricted sums to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or other propagandizing front groups inundating us with cynical mailers and television advertising to perpetuate the pro-rich government.
Generally speaking, the occupiers’ complaint is not that there are spectacularly rich people in America. It is that some among these richest people can ruin the nation’s economy with irresponsible wagering on a scheme drawn from inflated American home mortgages. It is that these offenders can then get bailed out by the rest of us via the government, which permitted and even encouraged the abuse in the first place. It is that these offenders can then enjoy the government’s blessing as they traipse right back into their big-bonus bonanzas. It is that regular people, mere innocent pawns, find themselves paying the real price—foreclosed on and laid off.
It becomes tactically essential to the perpetuation of these pro-rich policies to miscast this uprising by portraying it in political terms as irresponsible poor people warring resentfully against noble rich people. So “class warfare” becomes the right wing’s hollow and dishonest charge.
If you get bullied on the school playground day after day by a muchbigger classmate, and then if one day you work up the nerve to stop your pitiable retreat and hit back with all the tiny might you can muster, then you are not the one who started the fight.
This article appeared in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on Tuesday, November 15, 2011. You can e-mail this article to others using the link at NWAonline.
I shredded one of my journals. Possibly a mistake. When I’m old, I may enjoy reading them; remembering earlier times. Of course, when I get to the point that I’m no longer enjoying new adventures, I probably won’t be able to read what I’ve written anyway.
Besides… as one grows intellectually and spiritually, the old self becomes a faintly-remembered acquaintance. An aside to a new life. The new self is stronger; richer; more developed. And each new moment a chance to truly live. Why would I want to look back when there’s more to the journey ahead.
I met a nice couple yesterday. The woman said she was 65. She looked late 40′s. She and her husband spend their time helping others — their adult children and strangers in need. They voluntarily help people clean out garages and attics; collect items left after garage sales. In exchange for the work, they claim the contents found — then deliver it to Goodwill. Why? “God has been good to us.” They’re paying it forward.
Sam and I spent three weeks in Florida, helping his parents move from a large house into an apartment at an assisted-living facility. Since the housing association where his parents lived permitted neither garage nor estate sales, Sam’s dad found a creative solution. He ordered a pod and placed all of the items he didn’t want inside — then shipped it to us to garage-sale in Arkansas.
As we unpacked the pod, we collected a pile of boxes; plus uncovered flats of boxes never used. I broke the used boxes down, and then stacked all by the curb. I refolded one box; wrote on three sides FREE MOVING BOXES; placed it on top of the others. It was late in the day — only a couple of hours before sunset. Storm clouds were rolling in from the south.
An hour passed. The boxes were still there. A half hour more, and no takers. “God, please send someone by who will be helped by these boxes; and who can help us by taking them.” A few minutes later, I decided that I’d better put the boxes back in the pod, before it started to rain. As I was carrying them, a woman pulled up. She lives a couple of blocks away and is in the process of moving her household. She stacked a large pile of boxes into the back of her car. “This is really a blessing,” she said.
She told me that she’d send her husband for the rest.
“I’ll put the others in the pod,” I said, “in case it rains. I’ll leave the lock off, so he can take them.”
Before bed, I decided that I’d better put the lock back on. An open storage unit might be too tempting for small children, or for teens looking for a place to smoke. I rolled up the door for a peek; and the boxes were gone. I went to bed thanking God for giving us the ability to help one another.