Monday, January 16, 2006

Clawing Your Way to Failure

Bars are strange places. In an evening one can witness the worst traits of humanity promote themselves to acceptable behaviors, endorsed by the crowd, cheered by the mob. Working behind the bar I have heard the most bigoted and ignorant ideas go from embarrassed whispers to applauded mantras. But then again, every once in a while, you get to witness how fragile that social loafing really is.
Tonight I watched a group of men discuss "their politics". One by one they each agreed with one another's statements and added to them. "I'm a conservative." to "I'm a conservative who supports a strong hand." to "I'm a conservative and I say fuck them!" etc etc. Until the last one spoke. "Well, I'm a liberal. We need to take care of each other. It doesn't do us any good to help ourselves at the expense of the people around us. That's no way to be safe."
It's also worth noting that the alpha of a group is never the one who needs the others to justify his position. This guy did it remarkably well on his own.
I'd never heard it said so simply before.
Liberal, because we need to take care of each other.
Duh. It would have bit me. It should have bit me.

Therein lies the flaw in conservative logic. It is fundamentally an "Every man for himself" philosophy. That way lies madness, chaos, anarchy. This philosophy hampers survival. It doesn't really even help with evolu... oops. Nevermind. Back to the point. Remember 3 years ago and the images of people wedged in doorways trying to flee a nightclub fire in Rhode Island or the pepper spray in Chicago. Everyone of us thought to ourselves, "How the hell did they all get stuck like that?" Well, they all tried to get out by climbing over everyone else. If they hadn't clawed at the people ahead of them and just let them go first, most of them would have survived. As is they stampeded themselves to death. You are not going to get very far on the backs of others, but you will make it with their help.

The right-wing-spokesmodel-tough-guys won't tell you that. They are too busy ranting about security. Just look at this latest crisis. The "Broken Borders" BS. We don't need to build a wall between us and Mexico. Shit, look at the Great Wall of China, beautiful, but worthless. A wall is not going to stop people. Never has, never will. You want to stop illegal immigrants from moving here? Simple. Extend them all the labor rights of our citizens and enforce them. Enforce the minimum wage. Don't punish the guy trying to feed his family. Punish the guy keeping you from feeding yours. Employers who hire the illegals are clearly more concerned with profit than anything else. Make them pay for it. The demand for illegal labor would evaporate instantly if it cost the same as a legal workforce. Yes, some people would still cross the border, but think about this. Why should we as a country spend money on walls and guns when we could make money taxing the income? Allow them to work and use the 15.3% they pay into social security as motivation to gain citizenship. Either they go through the process and become citizens or the money goes into the general Social Security fund. Seems like a step in the right direction.

Bring everyone up. You can not be safe, no matter how much you spend, when all those around you are starving. If you want to be safe, you lift up the community and I do not mean only the cul-du-sac you live in. If you had all the wealth in the world, you could never secure that wealth from the world. Go ask the Romanovs, Loius the 16th, or anyone of the countless despots who thought their gold would protect them. That's the real Golden Rule: He who has the gold is a bright, shiny, slow moving target. There is nothing you can acquire that can not be taken from you.
Or, to get a bit closer to home on the issue, how do you benefit from American corporations moving there plants to third world countries? When a corporation uses cheap labor to manufacture its product, do they ever pass the savings on to you? When you allow a shoe company to import a product made in sweatshops by children, does the price go down? Does shopping at Mega Mart save you any money in the long run? No. Never. At best you pay a fraction less for a product that is made with considerably less quality. The store selling Union made products costs a dollar more per item, but you don't have to replace that item in a year. You get what you pay for.

One more thing, while I am near the subject. I have this need to point out irony when I see it. I think it comes from hearing too much Allanis Morrissette in the '90s. The running joke about the French over the last century has been, "French Generals are great at fighting the last war." They surrendered that dubious title recently to the Chickenhawks running this country. Those idiots turned Iraq into Viet Nam, created a new Cold War against shadows of boogey men and now they want to build the Maginot Line on the Rio Grande. Hell, they're not even great at fighting the last wars, just great at reenacting them from the losing sides. Well, thank god they changed the name on the menus to freedom fries. Can I get an order of the Failure Toast ala carte with that? Thanks.

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