The Washington Post this morning ran an article, “Bellwethers, Eight Issues That Will Shape The 2006 Elections”or one of a series of articles which is indicative of a coming surf tide of newsprint, virtual and otherwise, which will wash up on the shores of our collective consciousness over the next dozen or so weeks.
Predictions about the midterm election will curl whitely and proudly in the air and regularly and rhythmically slap our calm beaches until we are struck silly with predictions, expert opinions, and statistical analyses of the 06 election.
I stopped by yesterday to visit my friend Jane who I wrote about a few days ago in “Class Warfare At Big Flo’s Diner, Let Them Eat Hash.”
I thought it was her day off. I was wrong.
She was amazed, as was I, that so many people, hundreds, took the time to comment on our portrayal of her dilemma, and did so, for the most part, in a positive and supportive fashion.
There are a few ironies involved in this story that I didn’t report as I felt that they had nothing to do with the “guts” of the story which, I believed, was the rampant and criminal exploitation of the working class, specifically, of my friend Jane, by the criminal class that is corporate America.
I suppose that the major irony, and I’m sure that many have already guessed this, is that when Jane arrived at “Big Flo’s” ten years ago she was a disaffected Democrat who had become a Reagan Republican and voted for George HW Bush and would later vote for his addled progeny, Shrub.
She is open about her disdain for, and disappointment with, our minority party over the past decade and more, and at times in that period was enthusiastic about her support for Bush.
Her enthusiasm though, has steadily waned as her financial condition has weakened under the pro business anti labor policies of the administration of “Bush the Lesser.”
Jane says she will probably return to the Democratic fold in this coming election as she comes full circle and accepts her new mantle as a “Disaffected Republican” ( I like that phrase, I find it … musical, almost joyful.)
I’m sure that Jane is just one of millions of working class people who have spent a great deal of time and energy since the Reagan era, voting for people who despise and neglect them, publicly supporting policies that abuse and impoverish them, and finally gently stroking the gloved fist of the masters who beat them.
I have a feeling that this fact speaks, certainly, to a large amount of political naiveté in our electorate, but even more points to the enormous strength of the Republican, Corporate, Religious propaganda machine that with the almost limitless funds at it’s disposal, successfully disseminates lie after lie in their education of … well, Jane.
The minimum wage battle continues, with unions and workers fighting for an entry level raise for honest American workers that has been denied for nearly a decade while the dispassionate empty suits of business, their lackeys in local and national Chambers of Commerce, and the evil lick spittle minions they have purchased wholesale in our government at all levels, make pious pronouncements about the “marketplace” and the peril of allowing the government to regulate wages.
In the meantime, I’ve been talking to my friend, Jane.
Jane is a hardworking person, a decent, honest, American citizen, whose children are grown and now, divorced, has found herself forced to stay in the workplace to support the cost of her health insurance.
Jane has worked in the service sector as a Server in various restaurants for many years. As I say, she has a good work ethic and goes in every day, works hard, hustles and takes care of her customers, many of whom are regulars and patronize the restaurant in large part due her friendly attitude and the good service she provides.
The company that Jane works for is a large one with more than twenty five thousand employees working all over the country in various restaurant enterprises as well as other areas of the industry. (This ain’t Ma and Pa Kettle’s Corner Choke and Chew.) They are a very successful company and make a lot of money. A whole, big, heaping lot of money.
Their upper management is exceptionally well compensated and middle management is able to live very comfortably. The individual managers make a decent living, but, being at the bottom of the management food chain, they are often taken advantage of with long hours, chronic micro-management and the ever present threat of uncertainty in their continued employment.
And then there’s Jane. Jane worked thirty five hours last week, from four in the afternoon until closing time, which is usually around eleven in the evening. She works five shifts a week, bustling around performing all the functions expected of her by a demanding management and an often more demanding clientele. She does her job as a Server well, with an easy grace and earns decent tips. (Note the word decent.) (Also note the word earns)
Jane manages, on the tips she brings home after taxes, to support herself in a small apartment, drive the twenty five mile round trip to work in an older model used car of somewhat questionable reliability, and rise each day to iron a fresh uniform to do it all again. She has worked for this particular company for ten years.
For the services she provides to the company, let’s just call them “Big Flo’s Diner and Steam Table Amalgamated International Restaurant Barons and Bloated Plutocrat Chop House” they pay Jane two dollars and thirty six cents an hour. That’s $2.36 per hour and Jane is a “Team Leader,” the others on her team,, the “Team Members” make $2.13 per hour.
For the last couple of years whenever the Chowder Head portrayed above has appeared on my TV screen I have instantly reached for the mute button on my TV remote.
I simply cannot stand the sound of the fraudulent bastard’s voice anymore, and, having heard and read enough of him during the first few years after his torturous and calamitous appearance on the national scene, I know full well that he will not speak one word of truth nor provide even the smallest morsel of important information.
At this point I am all too aware that he will offer nothing to enlighten or edify, nothing that will come close to inspiration or even mild interest, so I have formed a firm habit of hitting the mute button whenever I see his smirking face invade my screen.
Twice in the last week I made the mistake of not reaching for the remote when this, our current court appointed resident of what now passes for the White House, has appeared on the TV screen.
I want to report to you on today’s rare but regularly scheduled meeting of the Bar stool Academy of Science which holds it’s sessions from 3:00 to 5:00 on days that end with the letter Y.
From three to five may seem to most to be somewhat longer than the average hour, and most would be right, if they have failed to allow for relativistic effects (Relativistic effects of time fully explained) and the size of the gas tank on my lawn mower.
Actually, due to some ongoing health problems, back, knees, lungs, heart, vascular system, pesky things really, chronic arthritic pain, shortness of breath and chest pains being, perhaps the peskiest, but I digress. Due to these health limitations my bride insists that I not mow the lawn and that I curtail my daily cosmological investigations and consultations with the usual suspects at the pool hall, which is where this august gathering is held.
When I prepared to leave for my daily seminar earlier today the bride objected and stated that the beers and the smoke in the atmosphere of the Academy meeting room might be deleterious to my health. Actually she said:
“That Damn pool hall will end up killing you”
If you could gather one hundred or so of the best minds on the planet and serve them a list of questions compiled from “ordinary people” all over the world what might you expect from such a gathering?
We may find out soon because according to the emails I’ve been receiving from a group called “dropping knowledge” just such a meeting is in the works:
On September 9, 2006, 112 scientists, social entrepreneurs, philosophers, writers, artists and activists from around the world will come together in Berlin, Germany, as guests of dropping knowledge. Seated around a vast round-table in the heart of the city, these remarkable individuals, renowned for the creative, social and humanistic impact of their work, will engage with 100 questions from the global public. These questions, selected by dropping knowledge’s founders and ambassadors from the many thousands generated by our “What’s Your Question?” campaign, will reflect the topics of greatest concern to the global public, emphasize under-reported issues and engage key themes endorsed by dropping knowledge in 2006.