By Brian McKay
Americans have short memories. Really fucking short memories. The worst are Republicans. Like goldfish in a bowl, they rediscover life every 30 seconds or so. How else could one explain the constant screams of “communist!” at a president that is to the right of Nixon. Reagan is lauded as a hero to those same people but there is no way the guy could have made it in this election cycle. No way at all.
Recently my mother told me she emailed the President and blamed him for starting a race war upon entering office. My sincere apologies President Obama, but my mother is a little crazy and prays to God to win the Publishers Clearing House. She is also extremely white and doesn’t call my daughter’s friend by her first name but refers to her as “the Chinese girl”.
No Mr. President, this didn’t start with you as the first African American president, this started with a bunch of economic myths that stopped forward progress over 30 years ago. See the 60’s Civil Rights Movement started forward progress that continued through the growth of U.S. manufacturing and the ability of families to escape poverty and put their kids through college. It stopped when we started exalting the wealthy, blaming the poor, created a war on drugs and began to think of the unions as “socialist havens” in the 80’s. That is when the Black Lives Matter movement started to come into being.
Yes, we live in a country where the economic growth or deficit that occurs under a specific president is blamed on that president regardless of what happened in the preceding years. Forget that George W. Bush created the structure for an explosion of national debt before Barack Obama entered the White House, let’s just relegate it to specific periods and blame the black guy. Black Lives Matter is turning out the same way. So why not just ask, “How the fuck did we really get here?” Here’s how…
In the eighties we started to embrace a new economic system. The job creators became the wealthy and corporations, not the people that actually bought the shit. Gordon Gecko said that “greed is good” in the movie Wall Street and that truly seemed to be the case of the myth. Laisse Faire economics were back in vogue with the rhetoric of an actor that didn’t find his true ability in movies with a monkey but rather when he entered a big white house. Raw capitalism solved everything and government was merely a burden that solved nothing and might actually have created more problems. We needed to stop protecting anyone and rely on free enterprise to do it as they surely could.
With the firing of 11,000 flight controllers on August 5, 1981 by Ronald Reagan, the continual attacks on the unions had begun. It used to be that families pulling themselves out of poverty could count on high paying jobs in manufacturing that were negotiated by a strong union. Many disadvantaged black families were able to create brighter futures for their children due to strong wages in these economic sectors and in entrance to the U.S. Postal Service. Eventually the 30% plus union representation in the U.S. has disintegrated to its current 7% today. Right to work laws at the state level were nothing more than post Reagan conservative attacks at the state level. Now the only tool for wage growth is labor shortage which is seen less and less with the increasing boom and bust cycles created by Wall Street people that have no clue what they are doing other than creating fees. Automation across industries will continue to make future labor shortage less prevalent.
With negotiating power gone the auto manufacturers started moving to low wage Southern states. The Postal Service started its decline with the advent of email and manufacturing migrated to China, initially starting in the Special Economic Zones of the 90’s and then moving further into the country. The U.S. was becoming a low paid service economy predicated on the idea that allowing the wealthy to keep more and more of their money would fix everything and create jobs.
And here we are today. Fox News is racist in its approach when it continually frames inner city violence on a race and blames said race for its own inability to advance because of a lack of family units. Fuck you Fox News. You might have missed that throughout history putting the economically disadvantaged in close quarters has created violence. Did Roger Ailes sit you all down and make you watch 90’s movies like Boyz in the Hood and New Jack City before it was discovered he wasn’t just horrifically ugly but an ugly pervert too boot?
Currently our criminal justice system is systemically racist in that black males have an incarceration rate 4 times that of white males for drug crimes when the same usage rates exist for both blacks and whites. It gets better when you add in a 25% average longer sentencing time for black males over white males for the exact same crime. This disparity in arrests and the ludicrous sentencing time frames of the War on Drugs coupled with racial disparity have created the family breakdown that Fox News is so willing to blame on culture, not systemic disparity.
And what of the jobs that once led the poor from poverty? Well the U.S. once defined upward mobility and now we are 17th and falling. It matters more who you are born to now. If you want a better chance to move from poverty to the middle class, move to Switzerland, which is number 1 on the list.
Service jobs are all that is left. McDonald’s in no longer a stepping stone for teenagers into the work place, but a living for many impoverished Americans. We resist minimum wage raises despite dramatic productivity gains and inflation far outstripping the capacity of our poorest, because Republicans can’t understand the accounting principle of contribution margin and the economic principle of velocity of money. The most impacted in this shift have been black Americans. Those cheap prices at Walmart have come mostly on their backs in a form of modern slavery that subsidizes the new plantations of the world’s richest family, the Waltons.
I am white. Do I have privilege? Oh fuck yeah. The chances of me being shot or arrested in the same situations as black males are statistically significantly lower. Much, much lower. My odds at higher wages and a college education were always much much higher. I have no idea what it is like to be watched as I walk through a convenience store. A hoodie isn’t an automatic red flag when I wear it. There is no way I wish to sit and create mythology in order to excuse myself from this privilege. It exists and I benefit from it. The myth of anyone making it in America is becoming a higher pile of bullshit with every year of denial.
Face it. We are still a tiered system of rich, poor and then minority poor and we started the path to widening the tiers 30 plus years ago. Yeah my mom’s letter to President Obama was written by another Republican that can’t see more than 8 years ago. Look back decades people and see the shit we really need to change. It’s time our nation grows up and accepts reality instead of old myths.
Brian McKay was recently told he had the devil in him. It really pissed him off because he is going to be a devil but never controlled by one. He is ready to watch it all burn if Trump is elected president and eagerly awaits the outcome. Certainly some egg white whiskey sours will be involved in this observance.
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license