I asked myself the other day, just what would I do for a job. That little demon appeared on my shoulder answering, “Why I’d star in a porn film, if my credentials would stand up.” I know, everyone is talking about the President’s comment supporting Gay marriage. The nominal left is gushing over the President’s remark, but to me however, this is just pure Obama. The President says something which costs him nothing, he carefully pushes Joe Biden out in front of the cameras first to say something and if his head isn’t taken by the press, Obama follows.
Obama never walks across a street without looking carefully both ways checking the numbers and demographics which all show this issue as a fait accompli. This is going to come soon, and someday people will scratch their heads and wonder, why this was ever an issue? The political leadership is so behind the curve buried in the fears of Bible thumping bullshit artists. Believing the shoveled threats of blue haired church ladies reeking vengeance come November. Obama’s pronouncement is akin to Richard Nixon pronouncing his acceptance of the voting rights act in 1970, so five years ago.
This is Obama’s card check legislation moment revisited. Nearly four years ago, candidate Obama promised to support Card Check legislation enabling workers to more easily join labor unions in their workplace. Candidate Obama carefully crafted his message, “If it comes across my desk,” he said, “I’ll sign it.” Once ensconced in the Obama White House, he did nothing to assist the legislation towards ever coming across his desk. This was to the public option disappearing from health care reform as Card Check was being removed from Card Check legislation. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
The President’s comment is nice but it is only political pabulum, you know what really hurts Gay couples in America? The same issues which afflict most all of us, the difficult job market or as they say, “when money walks out the door, love flies out the window.” It’s wonderful to support Gay marriage, good on you, now what about a job? In an era of rising public anger directed at rich and self centered, plastic Wall Street bankers the Republican Party intends on nominating a rich and self-centered, plastic Wall Street banker. Mitt Romney will stagger into the Republican nomination the most fatally wounded Presidential candidate since Michael Dukakis.
Obama has a free ride here; this isn’t an election, it’s a coronation, and he’s throwing off platitudes like beads from a Mardi gras float. While the President discovers the obvious about Gay marriage, he ignores an absolutely dismal monthly jobs report. More than 44.7 million Americans are receiving Supplemental Nutritional Assistance, (food stamps). These are men, women and children; they are gay and straight and receive on average $133.85 per month or less than a $1.50 per meal. Among elderly Americans, less than 35 percent of seniors eligible are receiving benefits and among those eligible from the ever growing ranks of the working poor the participation rate is below 60 percent.
Fifty-eight percent of food stamp recipients must turn to local food pantries each month to supplement their diet. We who are without shelter from this storm see this not merely as an economic recession or depression, but the inherent failure of Capitalism. After a year or two of unemployment you begin to lose your identity, you walk through a shopping mall as clueless as a child on a field trip. The idea of a purchase becomes an absurdity, you begin to see the bright colored lights and decorations for what they are, an illusion, money wasted, designed to sell you shit you probably don’t need in the first place.
I walked through a mostly empty shopping mall noting the empty spaces; the little kiddy train is carrying one grandparent and two toddlers through the mall. Nordstrom’s outlet story was busy; a ladies handbag was marked down from $335 to $179, a real bargain, a hand bag for more than the amount we allow the poor to eat on for a month. A pair of shoes three times the price of what we allow the poor families to live on for a month.
This is more than just an event which we are living through; this is an era, a generation of the lost and a lost generation. Lost children crammed into sub standard public schools in an era where their former school teachers are grateful for a part time job at the Dollar Store. It is an era where in some American neighborhoods, one in six of their homes are in foreclosure. Home prices are still falling and the foreclosures numbers are accelerating in the wake of papering over of the Robo-signing scandal.
There was a time in my life when I considered myself as having a career. I was in the industrial engine business, I wore Dockers and pressed white shirts and went out to lunch on the companies credit card. Now, I do most anything I can for work. Right now, that is just about anything. Perhaps if this were just me, I could accept this station in life more graciously, but I see these numbers of other men my age, who could easily be wearing my face. They are walking the streets of this town and of your town with bed roles and tousled hair. Maybe they have someplace to go but I doubt it, as most carry water in a recycled Pepsi bottle. Some have a dog or guitar which they carry with them holding onto them tightly as a last vestige of what was once real, in that old world.
Maybe these men are gay or straight, I can’t tell. But this much I do know; they are hungry and are hurting. They have no real health care and no money for even the most rudimentary health and sanitary supplies and this is their real day to day life. There is a generation of college students working to improve their lot through education and being driven only deeper into a financial “Catch 22.” Go to college and make your lot worse or don’t go to college and make your lot worse. It is a random chaos theory, where all incur debt, but only some find employment, millions more are bilked by Internet Universities, Get your Master’s Degree, become a NASCAR mechanic or studio engineer, plying on the dreams of the young cashing their checks, training thousands for jobs in the hundreds.
I know a man who is twenty seven years old; he is a certified auto mechanic and cannot earn enough to support himself. He’s not saddled with student debt but with medical debt, he’s lucky though, he’s working even though he’s not making it, he’s working. The participation rate for high school students in our workforce is around 35 percent and falling. Chances are, 65 percent of all American high school students will never have a job while attending high school. They won’t be able to save money for college or the prom or for a car. They must eventually either fall into the debt trap or the military trap. This is their life; this is their day to day existence, which they too, must endure.
Who could be surprised then, if a teen chooses to smoke pot or meth or even sells drugs, what else is this society offering to them? In April of 2011, 3,453,000 teenagers age 16 to 19 held jobs, this April that number is down to 3,419,000. We offer these children no future, we train them for no future. The elderly quake in fear of the coming austerity and sequestration, they fully understand that they are about to be thrown under the bus, maybe they are gay or straight but to be sure, they are about to be screwed. Millions of Americans just like me, after working for forty years find themselves in hard financial times. Just like the young among us, the students among us and the elderly among us and at the very moment when we need assistance most, government promises us…less.
Why then should we or they ever want to belong to the Capitalist club? Perhaps the Bagwan will ride by and wave to us along the roadside. Perhaps, he will tell us he supports us and loves us. He waves his approval to us, someday we may marrying whomever we like, yet he is unwilling to get out of his limousine to make it so. Those of us without shelter from this storm can see the disintegration; we are losing faith in the political process and in this society. The anchors are lifted in the fury of the storm, as the homes and lives are ripped from their foundations, they walk.
“Any institution which does not suppose the people good, and the magistrate corruptible, is evil.”- Maximilien Robespierre