Americans are some of the hardest working people in the Western industrialized world.
Even when we’re not working we’re working, as so many willingly becomes slaves to the communications devices and handheld phones that they originally got to make their lives more flexible. We’re a nation of workaholics, so afraid that we’ll lose jobs that pay less and have fewer benefits than a decade ago, that we make it clear to our bosses and teammates that we’re always on. “You can always reach me, I’ve got my cellphone.”
Americans have the least amount of vacation time of any industrialized nation, and when we do take off it’s nothing but Blackberries by the Beach, thank you very much. We don’t want Smith in Accounting making a play for the boss’s ear while we’re away and we don’t want to seem expendable while we’re out of the office for two weeks. So, effectively, we’re always punched in.
Idle hands are the devil’s workshop
But even the unemployed work their fingers to the bone. I ought to know, I’ve been unemployed for over a year (didn’t qualify for unemployment) and I work some sixty hours a week, “planting seeds” that I hope will turn into something down the road. “Maybe one more pro bono website for one more non-profit and then, then the orders will start coming in,” I naively think.
Meantime, we all have to be more creative around the home (work) in order to save money or stretch a dollar further.
The congressional sideshow
During all this “leisure” time, we the hapless unemployed get to watch the machinations of what amounts to a Congress lead by the least worthy among us.
Those corporate lackeys continue to claim that government can’t “create jobs,” that only the Ayn Rand-esque über billionaires can create jobs if they’re not hampered by paying taxes. So they’re up there arguing to take cuts from the services the taxpayers paid for, and to keep rewarding billionaires and Big Business with a tax loophole bonanza that would make Leona Helmsley blush.
The corporate circus
But corporate heads think even that’s not enough wins. This made one tycoon pretty mad this week.
Casino mogul and Martin Short look-alike Steve Wynn ranted that the reason business is hoarding cash and not creating jobs is that they fear taxes and expenses generated by last year’s healthcare legislation, along with other costs spurred by environmental regulations. As a casino owner, let’s face it, Wynn’s moral authority to school us all on economy is unparalleled. After all, does he know whores or does he know whores?
Speaking ostensibly on behalf of corporate business in general, Wynn sent the message that business will create jobs as long as executive pay vastly outstrips the pay of the wage slaves beneath it, as long as benefits are off the table, and as long as corporations can do what they damn well please in the course of business (namely externalizing costs by gutting the environment and human health) and as long as they need offer no form of job security. Wynn all but said, “We want our own little China right here at home where we can keep a better eye on it.”
Class war always begins from above
One need not look far to see just how consistent and persistent is the class war being waged against the American worker and the middle class, or just how bad it will get as long as unions are trashed, workers have no voice, and our options for work are limited to our willingness to consent to all of management’s demands. In essence, fully realizing our state as wage slaves. Then, when the work day is over, now that mom and pop shops have been destroyed, we also get to shop in the company store.
This arrangement sucks.
Americans want to work. And we have ideas, including in the face of downturn and uncertainty.
The literati like to say that Americans are no longer a serious people and that we’re unwilling to hear the hard truth and respond to it. Yet, we do have a history of sacrifice and a willingness to adapt that has only been obscured by the outsized role the mass media, especially the conservative media, plays in shaping political perception and in keeping us in thrall to the mind-sucking entertainment-consumption paradigm.
Let us create the jobs
Americans want to work and we want to solve our nation’s problems. We don’t want to see this country become the next third-world nation, the newest place to get cheap workers to manufacture cheap and shoddy goods. It was wrong when US-based companies did that to others and it would be wrong to let multinationals and other business types with no allegiance to the United States do it here.
Further, we want to ensure social stability and leave room for the flowering of society and culture that has been a part of the American past, and could be a part of its future.
If Big Business doesn’t want to create jobs, there are millions of American workers with ideas for starting their own businesses. They want to help re-localize the economies of communities around the country and would love to get the kind of subsidies, incentives and tax breaks that have allowed a select number of Americans to get rich by unfair advantage.
But the difference is that local entrepreneurs don’t just want to get rich — they want to help their communities too.
For example, think of the many people just dying to have access to land to pursue sustainable farming. They don’t want to wait for someone else to create a job for them. Instead, they want to create a job for themselves and several more people besides.
Think of the many people who believe there is a key role for small-scale, distributed solar power and who would love to revitalize American manufacturing, churn out products, and work with local finance firms to make affordable, Made in the USA photovoltaic panels accessible to homeowners.
Think of the many unemployed construction workers who probably won’t be building many more dime-a-dozen McMansions but who would be glad to start, run or work on a solar installation crew. Or think of their buddies who would be glad to blow in insulation and install double-paned replacement windows to help make homes more energy efficient.
There are plenty of eager restaurateurs who’d love to open a local foods cafe and many potential chefs, cooks, and waitstaff eager to work in a place that helps their local farmers provide healthy food to local diners.
There are even some particularly bullish folks who would be more than glad to build out local commuter trains and intercity passenger rail on a big enough scale to truly spur a bevy of jobs across the economic spectrum and across regions.
And all of these plans can solve multiple problems at once: create jobs, stimulate the economy, reduce energy use, make us more energy and food secure, solve transportation woes, lessen dependence on foreign oil, and lower our carbon footprint all while creating profit for…business! Who doesn’t like this model? Okay, EXCEPT Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Corporate America?
Why is Big Business stopping American progress?
Government can create jobs in relationship with people who want to create jobs. Ordinary people want to create the jobs and we want to work.
You don’t have to be pro-corporate to be pro-business. So, I say, screw corporations. They can keep their hoards of cash and bemoan their fate in relationship to Washington.
But if that’s the way it’s going to be, they shouldn’t also get to make the rules for the rest of us. In spite of what you may have heard, money is not equal to speech, and you don’t get more speech just because you have more money.
Big business may be content to drive America off the cliff and flush us down the toilet, but We The People want our country back. We want to help it adapt to peak oil and climate issues while still living a vibrant life of business, trade, commerce and civic involvement.
Corporate America, you failed on jobs, hoarded cash and drove us broke. Even so, like suckers we still redistributed tons of wealth to you as bonuses and tax loopholes and other rewards because you were so-called too big to fail. You still failed and we got stiffed.
Now that we want a chance, don’t you dare call it “socialism.” Or if you do, at least be honest enough to admit that if it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for the people.
–Lindsay Curren, Transition Voice