If you happened to catch Jon Stewart last week he did what has become classic for him–pointing out the heaping hypocrisy that the uber Right always seems to manage to live with. Entering the head of a right-wing expert is sorta like entering the minotaur’s labyrinth. A normal person gets lost in all the dead ends.
Anyway, Jon was talking about Kansas. Kansas just passed a law and gol’ darn it, Sammy “spittin’ Brownback signed it, removing all restrictions to concealed weapon carrying, including even having a permit. That’s cuz Kansans are so dang trustworthy and kin do the right thing. Kansas is also real big on the notion that poor people are not like regular Kansans. They are akin to kidlets and must be told what to eat and what to buy. If you get assistance from Kansas, you get a list of what you can use it for, cuz you aren’t grown. Jon pointed out that the inconsistency here is that Kansas receives $1.29 from the Federales, for every $1.00 it pays in. Which makes them welfare moochers ya know. So, um, if we wanna be consistent, I guess we ought to be tellin’ the Kansans what they spend their free monies on huh?
Kansas is not alone in this sort of thinking. Republican-led legislatures in many states seek and do impose lots of restrictions on the poor of all sorts, treating them like they are not fully grown, nor citizens. One wonders why Re-huh-ligans think this way. I mean plenty drug test anyone seeking assistance, even though the results of all those tests suggests it costs way way more to give them then it ever saves in “drug users don’t git no help” fails.
It’s all illogical, demeaning, and downright awful and one wonders why, as I said.
See, iffin’ you go back far enough, we were a very tribal species. Sorta like lion prides. New folks from other lands were not invited into the tribe, much as alpha males drove off traveling loners who sought to join the pride. (This all drives fundies quite mad, since they don’t believe we humans go back far enough for that, but fundies seldom can force themselves to take the giant step to actually read out of their comfort zone, so no matter.)
Anyway, we tend to be tribal still, some of us more so than others. The tribe is generally quite artificial these days, but it often relates to religion, or ethnic origin, gender, and stuff like that.
We live with a lot of folklore here as they do everywhere. We were raised on the Protestant Work ethic which should tell you a whole lot just by the name. It had to do with religion and salvation, but has become twisted into some sort of “this is how grownups behave” notion that hard work brings success economically.
Our start as a nation also caused people from time to time to strike out on their own, urged on by such things as primogeniture, to make a life in the wilderness. This became “pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps”, in other words, making it on your own.
These things, when done successfully give one a sense of accomplishment and capability. Such people like to look a bit down at others who for a whole list of reasons can’t succeed as they did.
Of course, this whole thing gets extended and twisted until it doesn’t really resemble what it started out as. We aren’t any longer a new country with a vast Western virgin expanse where one can strike off and create a new life. You can only invent the hula hoop once. It gets harder and harder to make it on your own, and hard work can end up bringing little more than basic survival.
But as long as one is surviving, albeit at the lowest level, one can still, and one is encouraged, to look down askance at those who have failed to even reach basic survival.
When we have priced education out of the range of most working class kids, it’s time to put down the idea that elite educations matter. All that matters is common sense after all.
The political hacks who do the work of big corporate interests have gotten very good at all this. They keep the barely differentiated in reality yapping at each other for all sorts of nonsensical things so that we fail to see what is really wrong in our country. We break into union/non-union, religious/not-religious, right-kind-of-religious/not-right-kind-of-religious, gay/straight, unregulated guns/regulated guns, and the divisions are infinitely divisible at this point. Somehow it all becomes liberty-loving patriots/commie-socialist-atheists. It all becomes prideful, and the alpha males snarl and gnash their teeth around the perimeter while the king of beasts patrols, defending.
The poor, become child-like, and lazy, because the working poor who are scraping by, must see themselves as successful. The liberals become elites who want to take what little the working poor have and trade it for votes among the child-like and lazy. The conservatives want to encourage entrepreneurship in theory to “grow jobs” by reducing taxes and regulation, and the workers are encouraged to believe that they could be entrepreneurs if only they didn’t have to pay for the child-like and lazy.
It all is quite silly and wrong and indefensible by the actual facts, but that does not matter since the working poor and barely holding on middle-class wants to believe they are doing all they can, and it’s somebody’s fault. They are actually right. They are doing all they can, and it is somebody’s fault. Just not the folks they think. For the machine works tirelessly to make sure that their anger is directed away from them.
We have gone in this country for feeling pity for the poor to actually hating them. For they are us and deep down we know that. And we are desperate to keep that fact buried deep in our subconsciousness, so that we can go on feeling successful and proud of ourselves.
Not just hate, which we camouflage in “tough love” rhetoric, but bitterness as well. They remind us of not just of ourselves, but of the opportunities we have missed, abused, and let go by while we took the easier course of listening to our “betters” and their constant propaganda. “You could be just like us,” they whisper, “if it were not for them.” And we have listened and we have nodded in agreement, and we have gone back to our Archie Bunkers and laughed uproariously and told ourselves that we are not Archie, all the while we have been Archie and continue to be that caricature in all his bigotry and blaming.
And we feel self-righteous in our demands that you don’t get to buy steak or get your nails done if you are getting my tax dollars. And we claim we are just helping “them” act like us, which is what we have been told is the “right way to be”. And what we do is ugly and mean, and makes people feel bad about themselves and they hate right back.
And the corporate masters cheer and clink their glasses and laugh and discuss the latest results of the polo match and whose going to the Mediterranean this year, and who will be at the Met this season.
And the wars go on. And nothing changes. And we teach these stupid lies to our kids and life goes merrily along for the rich and powerful and we keep dancing.
Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends
Then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is