I hopped on my computer briefly last night to waste a little time only to read the news that it is official: our elected servants have opted to let the government shut down. This morning I am reading a great many people weighing in on the issue, most coming from liberal voices, that is what makes up most of my friends list, but not all of the same mind on this failure on the part of our government. Some have been trying to keep things light, some have been talking about how it affects them personally, some have been seething with rage at the Republican party, and a few have expressed a sort of muted happiness and optimism, seeing this as a potential catalyst for the change they want to see.
I am not quite sure I like the tone of that last group. I have read phrases along the lines of “rising like the Phoenix from the ashes.” What they either fail to see, or do not care about, is that those ashes are people who have been cremated alive in the fires of human greed and ignorance. These folks aren’t statistics, they are people who will starve. They are people who will lose their homes. They are people who will wonder if their kids will end up going to school on the other side of the city. To make this all the more frustrating those hoping for an uprising are mostly young, white men from backgrounds that left them with little to no understanding of what real suffering feels like.
That little wrinkle in all this, though, is just the icing on the cake that I find myself choking on now. What bothers me is the lack of discussion of what this really means for America: the further weakening of our middle class. With a government shutdown comes less money going into fueling the engines of economy. It is government employees having to scrimp, meaning they won’t be replacing those drafty windows (for example) which means those windows won’t be getting bought, which means they won’t be getting made, which means people will not be getting paid to make them.
When we think of erosion we think of floods. That is understandable, they wash a lot away. Droughts, however, also cause erosion. They leave the soil unable to resist the wind and so it gets carried away. That is exactly what thirty years of supply side economics, culminating in this shutdown, has been, a drought. It has left our middle class dry and easy for the unpredictable winds of unregulated economy to blow it away. Those young men above may think that is what we need. They may believe that those winds will blow away all the rot and waste and leave us with an anarcho-syndicalist dream. What they fail to realize is that it will blast away the middle class so necessary to make the changes they want happen. That is why the plutocrats are so insistent on destroying it.
Every successful revolution has been led by a healthy middle class, aware of the abuses of the upper class. If they can make that class wither with thirst they think they will be safe. Unfortunately for us all they are wrong. Eventually all those below them will become angry enough for a revolution, successful or not, and the angry abused will be indiscriminate in the expression of their rage, burning us all in it, and what will rise from those ashes will not be a Phoenix, but rather closer to the rabid bear that once rose out of a similar uprising. Both our leftist dreamers and our right wing schemers need to learn from the mistakes of history, before we all dry up and are carried away.
- Just another government shutdown for our “do nothing” Congress (thigpenforcongress.com)
- American Dream fades as certainty for many (bangordailynews.com)
- Americans see government as focused on the rich (salon.com)
- Here’s where middle-class jobs are vanishing the fastest (washingtonpost.com)