Working Stiff Stuff
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Working Stiff Stuff • Posted: Jul 29, 2018 14:39:07Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Two years ago, working class people were considering their options during presidential primaries across the US. The previous eight years had not been good for them. The Great Recession devastated many working families, with lost jobs, rising healthcare costs, drug addictions, home foreclosures, auto repossessions, and family violence brought on by extreme frustrations, heavy drinking, and worried anxious children acting out at home and school. They were also scared, scared of immigrants taking their jobs, of government turning against them, of corruption and crime, of possible terrorists, scared of even their neighbors and coworkers going “postal”. And, during all those previous eight years, their fears were not comforted and quelled by the remarkable job the Federal Reserve and Obama Administration did to stabilize markets, sure up banks, free up credit, open international markets for agriculture, manufacturing, and services, attract capital for new businesses, especially in the auto sector, bring down the unemployment rate, stimulate economic growth to over 5% during some quarters, open educational opportunities to millions, and help ensure millions more had affordable health insurance, all the while helping to slow global warming and promote a more healthy environment. Instead, they listened to talk radio hosts huckstering unverified speculations of devious ulterior motives by both the Fed and Obama, and by Democrats in general. And, come November 2016, they chose to elect the current administration.

So, did they choose wisely? If one looks objectively at the results, at the steady decline in unemployment leveling off and threatening to rise again, at wage growth stagnant, at personal debt rising, at credit tightening and becoming more expensive, at the National Debt increasing by more than a trillion dollars, at affordable health insurance disappearing, at social safety nets being defunded, at capital investment slowing, at funding for research drying up, at education, the Internet, the VA, and public lands being auctioned off to the highest bidders, at environment protecting regulations and enforcement abandoned, at courts being packed with judges more interested in enforcing laws crafted by a powerful few than ensuring justice for the average citizen, at treaties being torn up and military forces being withdrawn to the point of allowing malevolent actors, dictators, and exploitive enterprises to function without inhibition, at trade agreements that benefited millions withdrawn from in hopes of being renegotiated to the extreme benefit of far fewer people, at investigations into corporate corruption disbanded and asylum seeking immigrants persecuted, if one looks objectively at all that one might be hard pressed to say yes, they did choose wisely.

But, what if we consider the consequent realities as an experiment, as in a “let’s give them a try and see what they can do” kind of experiment, just like one might do with a few new and different players in a game of football or basketball? Then, maybe the answer isn’t so clear. Maybe the electoral wisdom of the average working stiff wasn’t so deluded after all. Maybe this generation of citizens actually needed to see how fucked up things could really get when participatory government is abandoned and self-serving criminals are allowed to take over institutions meant to serve us, serve us fairly and justly without requiring payment of bribes or the mortgaging of our futures. If so, will the next round of elections see the average working stiff place his or her bet on more of the same, or something different yet again?

We will have to see. Because, two years hence, hard won stuff acquired during the latter years of the Great Recession is breaking down and needing replacement. Will souls be sold to political hucksters for hollow promises of access to those replacements? Or, will average citizens find strength and creative resolve working together through the institutions of participatory government to make life better for all, instead of for just a few self-serving exploitive criminals? That is the looming question.

Thursday, August 4th, 2016