Sunday, October 2, 2011

E&C Return #8: The New Plantation Owners, And Jim Crow Laws for the Middle Class.

A billiard hall for African Americans, in Memp...

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Eagle was grim-faced and tired when he landed back at his eyrie, but the sight of Cuckoo, wine glass in hand, bottle to hand, caused his spirits to rise.

Cuckoo poured him a glass without saying a word. Eagle drank half it immediately and felt much better. Then he noticed the smoked salmon, Irish soda bread, farm butter, and other goodies including lobster; and his spirits rose a further notch.

“You’ll feel better still after you’ve eaten something,” said Cuckoo. “I gather you were with the Irks and skipped lunch as usual. You’ve got to pace yourself. We need you fit and healthy. I can set things up, but you’ve got to do the deed. I’m just the Watcher.”

“The Irks have been getting into the details of what’s being going on,” said Eagle, “and it reminds me of the Jim Crow laws after the Civil War. Here we have African Americans thinking they’ve become free and instead they find they’ve become wage slaves for another hundred years; and based upon recent events, maybe longer.”

Cookie had to think for a few seconds and then realized that Eagle was referring to more than the frighteningly high African American unemployment, but also to the fact that the mortgage crisis and subsequent foreclosures were hitting them particularly hard. In fact the latest statistics showed that the net worth of the average Black was one twentieth of the the average White. Would African Americans ever catch up? At best, it would take centuries. Racism, overt or implicit, still seemed to be alive and well in the Land of the Free.

Eagle continued: “And now we’ve got the modern equivalent of plantation owners doing much the same thing to the entire American Middle Class regardless of race, creed or color. The plantation owners seem to have become bankers and politicians  and corporate CEOs. What angers me is both the scale and the meanness of it. There doesn’t seem to be a single aspect of Middle Class economic life and security that hasn’t been affected.

“The new plantation owners seem to be without either concern or conscience. They don’t seem to care that they are squeezing demand out of the U.S. market because their interests are no longer aligned with those of this Great Nation. They seem utterly unmoved by the fact that most of their fellow citizens are getting poorer by the day. And their greed is unrelenting and vicious in its cruelty. When poverty programs are cut ahead of taxing millionaires - to give just one example - a line has been crossed that demands a response.”

“Explain further,” said Cuckoo. The thought struck him that there was a certain irony in their dining in such luxury while they discussed such matters, but he let it pass. Eagle was stressed, tired and angry; and with good cause. “But eat first.”

“The new plantation owners.” Strong language, and entirely appropriate in Cuckoo’s opinion.  Eagle had an ear for the evocative. He was becoming a formidable politician as he prepared relentlessly for his future role. He read, he studied, he debated and he thought. And he had already proven that he had the kind of killer instinct that was going to required in the most direct way possible. He had killed.

Cookie hoped Eagle never had to kill another human again. But humans were eminently capable of killing each other, and he knew that when income inequality was matched with rampant social injustice and desperation, people eventually reacted; and civil disobedience, however peacefully intended, had a habit of escalating into violence. And violence had a habit of escalating into revolution.

But America was the richest country in the world. Could matters be really that be that bad? Surely, the present situation was just an economic blip and soon prosperity would return? Perhaps it would in terms of GDP, but growth was meaningless if the benefits went only to the plantation owners.

Cookie had been around a long time – a couple of millennia, if truth be told – and his sense was that unless America reformed its worship of U.S. Style Market Fundamentalism, a business model that demonstrably wasn’t working, and that wasn’t even real capitalism, the prognosis was grim.

He’d seen this kind of social upheaval many times before. The plantation owners never seemed to recognize the warnings signs, and of course, much of the build-up of social pressure was was invisible. It was akin to the sequence of events that preceded an earthquake. Mostly, they were undetected. And then came the horror.

Cookie had never understood greed, but it seemed to go hand in hand with complacency and stupidity. Somehow, the plantation owners never seemed to be able to appreciate that it was in their own best interests to reach an accommodation with their less well-off fellows. Perhaps bone-headedness was a required quality for a plantation owner; and, based upon its behavior, for much of Congress. As for the current crop of Right Mug/Tea Mug presidential candidates, clearly it was de rigeur.












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