AFTER PRIVILEGE

These days, fewer of us feel privileged, much less so than we did even “just” a decade or two ago, ‘round here anyway. The weirdness of that is that when we were thus protected we didn’t feel it. It was just the way it was. We didn’t know anything else.

But things have changed. I read some where—don’t ask me where—that for folks over 50 years old with a career-like job, there is a 50% chance that they’ll lose that job involuntarily and that the next job they get will be significantly less well paid. So much for the American Dream.

This is usually justified by corporations by saying the jobs themselves are disappearing, think ice man or steno girl. But they are really going the way of the dinosaurs because the bosses found someone else, somewhere else—or some “thing” else closer by—who’d do the work cheaper.

Nothing new boss-wise, they are no meaner than they were decades or centuries ago. It’s just we’ve finally seen the end of an unusual era (Beginning with FDR and beginning to fade with Reagan) where the labor vs. capital match-up was a bit more in favor of labor. But as Industrial robots and artificial intelligence, container ships and the internet as well as a wholly-owned subsidiary government have come together in favor of capital, big business has the better hand in this game again.

Those of us once privileged with steady income, safe and comfortable homes as well as opportunities to improve our lot in life, are now being pushed into the precariat with the various minorities who’ve been there, invisible to us, all along. What I don’t get is that a bunch of us believe that it’s they who caused our fall from privilege and that therefore we are angry with/afraid of them for that, when it seems that it’s obvious that the rich and powerful, not the poor and weak, are the cause of our new-ish distress.

It’s the rich and powerful i.e. the politicians, their owners and the media, conspiring to shift the blame for our fall away from themselves and onto groups with little or no means to defend themselves against our rage. Maybe conspiring is too strong a word here. All the varieties of rich and powerful have similar means and ends so what, to the paranoid among us, seems conspiracy is mere coincidence. So I suspect they’d turn on each other in a flash if there’s profit be had.

Then there’s the hypocrisy of the media, the “free” press which loves to parade under its underdog populist banners spouting “We are all that stands between you and the tyranny of corrupt politicians and greedy corporations!” and such like, all the while they are really just more greedy corporations. And like all corporations, all they care about is increasing shareholder value by decreasing that of their employees and customers. Google “Gannett” for details.

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The digital drawing above shows the top edge of the formerly deep middle class who’ve still got all the steady income, etc. mentioned above. They are not only the point-zero-one-per-cent authoritarians that rule the country, but mere one-per-centers who aspire to be like them. It’s now not the American Dream but a scheme where dad is essentially a bag of cash, and mom is a trophy; their relationship is a business—her presence for his presents. And worse, the heirs to their increasing fortunes are an increasingly distracted, medicated and morally obese generation. The more they play, the more the rest of us pay.