Do your thing, Daddy-O

Lots of buses pass the stop. Get on the wrong one and it won’t take you where you want to go. We all know this, which is why we grown-up, functioning members of society seem a little leery of a weaving bus with ganja smoke seeping through the windows, driven by consensus with no destination posted over its windshield.

Ya know what? Just get on the bus. You don’t get to drive (because honey, you didn’t crank the engine), but you can get somewhere right alongside the rest of the people who are tired of being worried about getting smashed flat by vampires in limousines.

Somebody finally managed to shine some daylight through the smoked glass of those limos, and revealed what we all knew was true:  they’re not exactly there to give us eternal life.

Or “create jobs.” Two TRILLION dollars of capital are locked up by economic Übermenschen who are clearly uninterested in making a dent in your 9.1 percent unemployment. They don’t eat cake (that’s for the little people). They eat jobs. They chew up benefits. They thrive on unpaid overtime, uncompensated “employee-contributed assets” and unpaid internships.

It’s not your blood, to them. It’s their livelihood. It’s just business, and while you were grinding away at it, head down and praying to make the next mortgage payment without losing your health insurance by getting sick, your kids noticed that SOMETHING IS WRONG.

They started asking rude questions, and when they got no valid answers from the government or from business or from US, they cranked up the bus and started down the road to… somewhere.

You gonna just stand there and wave goodbye? You gonna hope the limo guys stop to give you a lift? Wait until it’s a full-on demolition derby?

If you take that last option, you’d better pray the kids let you on the bus. They’re likely to mow down every limo they can spot, and it wouldn’t be very surprising if a few minivans became collateral damage.

Let’s do something moderate, adult and right now: support the people downtown. They’re either in your town or the nearest big city, persistently asking the question we should have asked over the past 30 years or so, the same questions Presidents Eisenhower and even Washington asked: will we sign over our constitutional republic to a one-dollar, one-vote board of directors?

The revolutions of your lifetime — some of them, anyway — have come about as the tide of public opinion and awareness was served by increasing ambient information, viz. the “Fax Machine Revolution” that overthrew half of the extant superpowers (remember the USSR? China does); Tahrir Square and its dense population of smart phones; underground newspapers in the Sixties; etc.  Memetic thought seems to operate on a watershed principle, wherein awareness finally reaches a saturation level that starts to seep into the consciousness even of those otherwise preoccupied with maintaining server farms, opening the bakery and walking the beat.

You know, folks like you.  And me.  “We the People.”

Things not only CAN change, they DO change.  The gay rights movement is the best recent example here in the U.S.A. Remember 20 years ago, when you could beat a faggot down and tell the judge that he’d made you “nervous?”  Once upon a time, gay bashing got a pass.  Now his infantry squad mates — or his husband — might just beat YOU down.  Things change.  People change them.

People like you.  And me.  People who hopefully still have enough backbone to stand up to power when it’s run amok.

“Stepping up” doesn’t have to mean grabbing your gun — or even a sign — and heading for the front lines of culture clash.  It’s not the Zombie Apocalypse (although it’s interesting to observe how dominant that meme has become).  Social and political change are ongoing processes, not exclusively black & white (or blood red) contrasts.  Society doesn’t operate on an A-B switch, where one day we’re happy in our homes and the next day we’re running through the ditches with knives in our teeth, trying to overthrow the tripod alien overlords.  Those are shorthand metaphors, convenient to fantasy.

Are we really satisfied to sit back and wait until we have to count our ammo?  News flash:  the army has more ammo than all of us put together — and that’s just the small arms.  Ever seen what happens to folks who get into gunfights with tanks? I have, and I’m recommending that we work on finding a way to force some of that $2 trillion to trickle down through wages, rather than attempting to take it by force. Maybe we should have started earlier, thinking about that, but it will never again be earlier than now.

Falling back on the satisfaction of a vengeful fantasy doesn’t solve much. Neither does insisting on getting your head cracked with a nightstick. History won’t remember that with a Purple Heart; it will castigate everyone around you as a “mob” instead of a persistent majority, animated by the desire to form a more perfect union.

Doing small things — talking to your friends, daylighting good and ill on your FB page, making some coffee for the protesters, encouraging your stay-home neighbor to vote — may seem like very small splashes in a very big pond.  They are, but I’m gonna do my one small thing anyway.

I’ve got NOTHING to lose by inconveniencing myself a little, by putting myself out there a little bit — and neither do you. Get your butt off the stool.

Am I a dilettante protester?  Sure.  The bourgeois always are.  I’m not a homeless stumbler (yet) or a college student (anymore) or unemployed (exactly), so I don’t sleep on the pavers downtown.  But G-d damn it, I’m glad somebody does.  I’m glad someone is willing to stand in the hot face of the comet, and let me be the tail this time around.  There are always more soldiers on the FOB than out in Strykers, more Coast Guardsmen welding hulls and filling out forms than crewing cutters.

We are ~300,000,000 Americans, currently dominated by a plutocracy of a few hundred very wealthy men who pull the strings.  Dollars aren’t the only numbers that matter.  Three hundred million small things constitutes an historic effort by anyone’s measure.

You can’t slug it out and expect to win. You can make them listen, though. You can force them, at long last, to decency. Washington’s paymasters will only think themselves above the law until Congress and the President — and even the Supremes — realize that we’re paying close attention.

That we’re following the money. That we realize “trickle-down” is quite unequal to “vacuum up.”

Sitting it out until the gunfight at the OK Corral is a comfy way of saying the water isn’t that hot and the cooking smell isn’t your froggy little legs.  Why do old liberals who decide that they won’t play until it’s full-on revolution imagine that the kids way out ahead of them are going to suddenly put them in charge?

Or that any one citizen will “dominate the battlespace” unaccompanied, based on their personal 9mm badassery?  Sorry, but if any of us believe that, we’re acting a lot less grown-up than those kids with the ear gauges and handmade placards.

It takes much more than that, much more than one man or woman can accomplish.  We don’t need kickass antiheroes patrolling the outback in their Main Force Patrol Interceptors.  We need people willing to bestir themselves to demand better from their government than kowtowing to a “biggest wallet wins” model of bought speech.

We need you, and we need you now.

Do one small thing.  I’ll join you with my one small thing.  I’ve got your back, for no better reason than you and I struggle under the same regime.  I wouldn’t move to a Third World country, and I’m impatient with the idea of my country moving to a Third World economic distribution.

Do one small thing.

E pluribus unum was meant to describe citizens, not massed phalanxes of dollars.

Do one small thing and do it now, before the kids stop waving their signs and start throwing things, and get every single one of us in the 99 Percent dismissed as vandals and hoodlums.

Do one small thing.

Comments

  1. Brilliant! I’d love to share this with your permission. May I?

  2. My sentiments exactly.

    Supporting you from too far away to participate. We’re glad people like you can represent us.

  3. I asked… and I have received. Awesome.

  4. Of course, Michael. You’re one of the good guys (remember, like the man said, there are good guys and bad guys — and the good guys decide which are which).

    Cheers,

    Jack

  5. http://Jon%20O says

    I left Portland and Oregon (gasp!) to follow a dream. A work ethos after many years of education. Only to find I have fallen in with thieves.
    They steal money, they steal dreams and they steal hope. They are doing “layoffs” closing our factory for 25% of the time to save money. The thing is WE ARE MAKING A PROFIT! Hundreds of lives sundered to make another million. And no, I am not being laid off. I am a salaried chemist, an “asset”. So i get better treatment, yet I am sickened to my core.
    Thank you for your viewpoint, I live in the midwest now and listen to my coworkers complain of there treatment. Yet they still mock the protesters. My heart and soul weep.

  6. Hey…Met you in “motorcyclist”, thanks. Sometimes you’re the only one worth reading [that, from a dedicated Ural man, so take it how you’d like…] Just now I’m reading Nothing in Reserve. What I have never understood is why we don’t just bomb em with tractors, and /or solar panels, irrigation pumps, anything that CREATES wealth rather than DESTROYING wealth? It takes the same assembly line, the same skill set the same infrastructure but at the end of the day the tank , if used, leads to poverty, by definition. You lock up resources in a machine gun, and dare not use it, or complain when its used against us; but every time you run a tractor…well you see. Just write “Made in America, who’s your daddy?” on each and every one. Is this just a bunch of pollyanna crap? My old man says the problem, from his 86 year old perspective , is the “macho bullshit”. Railing against human nature has always been a fools errand, but g..d…n it, when are we gonna get it? Bombing people back to the stone age has never worked.

  7. http://Ken%20Brandt says

    You guys are so stupid. You have no idea how the world works. If you think it is so easy to run a company, provide all your employees with health care, lay-off proof jobs, a liveable wage, and make millions yourself, why don’t you do it. Someone on this blog even suggested making solar panels, like Solyndra or Sun Power, inc. Stop smoking pot and pay attention. This doesn’t work. None of you have the balls to start your own company because you know the government will come in and tell you how to run it. And, God forbid, you happen to make a profit, they will take 50 percent of it in taxes. If think they won’t, think again. This BS about companies not paying taxes comes from people not looking into it. Let me ask you this. How much of your Social Security tax do you pay and how much does the company pay? How much does the company pay for your unemployment insurance? How much does the company pay for property taxes? Sure, some companies get to write off things to pay lower taxes, but isn’t that what you do when you write off your mortage interest, your charitable deductions, or claim your kids as dependants. Why is it wrong for companies to take advantage of LEGAL write offs?

    • Having founded and run companies, Ken, I’d be the last guy to say it’s “easy.” That’s why I never said that. Read for content before you respond, or risk outing yourself as a knee-jerk idiot.

      As for your little pop quiz, this particular self-employed freelancer has better things to do than answer a slew of rhetorical questions. While I may be as stupid as you (in your considered wisdom) see fit to assert, I’m sure not gullible enough to play your silly game.

      Finally, if you don’t manage to secrete some better manners from your Civility Gland, you won’t be commenting here for long.

  8. Bravo, what a great read. Some parent aged people have been calling attention to vampires a long time! However this is a beautiful bloom of human awakening just a wee tsk tsk generation dividing. Please search fashionRIP if you want more info on how to participate in “Peoples media Arts Uprising”.

    We can do it. This is my 3rd event where cooperation trumps competition, proving the antidote to the old saw!! Peoples Media Arts Uprising 2012 (city wide multi media events event) is to share resources, teach/learn and form the relationships that build trust to enable bigger projects and onward. It is time to put energy towards the future we want to manifest- experimental as it is.

  9. Ken,
    Do you really believe the benefits of running a successful company are so small? How do you think GE paid NO taxes? It had nothing to do with their employment costs.

    All us folks want is a level table, don’t you agree? Maybe?

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