The ill logic of the lower classes

Lone marsh tree

It’s the Ninth Day After the Solstice, and I’m back at the shack after checking up on my house, which stopped feeling homey after a tree fell on it last year. Some of my old neighbors are doing OK, judging by the number of houses with Christmas decorations. Some of the those who weren’t doing OK have died. Others — the ones who, because of joblessness or a catastrophe, couldn’t make their mortgage payments — have simply disappeared.

On my way back to the swamp I ran into one of the disappeared — a big, blustery guy who used to remind me of a circus strong man, probably because of the striped tank tops he wore in the summer. Today he was wearing dark glasses and a ratty coat with a big hood, and he seemed about four inches shorter, but I recognized him and said hello as we crossed paths on the sidewalk. He returned my hello but didn’t stop walking. I got the impression he was homeless but I can’t be sure, because I didn’t stop walking either.

When I got back here I asked the swamp rabbit, an amateur shrink as well as a closet bibliophile, why my former neighbor and I had shied away from one another. He spit into the Tinicum swamp and said, “Your ex-neighbor feels like a bum. He’d feel even more like a bum talking to you, because you knew him when he had a house. And I reckon you didn’t want him to know you feel like a bum, too.”

I reminded the rabbit that I’m a fiction writer, not a bum. He asked me what the difference was. It was noon, but he already smelled like he’d finished off a bottle.

I said, “You’ve got a lot of nerve, all you do is drink Wild Turkey and spit in the swamp.”

“Think about it,” he replied. “It ain’t just them hyper-capitalists and their lap dogs in Congress that blame the poors for being poor. The poors blame themselves. They don’t even raise hell when food stamps get cut and unemployment benefits get killed after six months. If they do raise hell, it’s agin each other.”

“You don’t understand the fear, you dumb rodent. Things only get worse when people rock the boat. Demand better wages and you just get fired and disappear. The New Deal is done, the rich have the whip hand until things change again.”

I read him the tail end of a column by Paul Krugman:

Too many Americans currently live in a climate of economic fear. There are many steps that we can take to end that state of affairs, but the most important is to put jobs back on the agenda.

The rabbit twitched his nose and chuckled. “Whose agenda? Jobs are on your agenda if you’re jobless, but they ain’t if you’re in the owner class. The owners don’t need more workers, they’re making bigger profits without them. Who’s gonna make them hire, especially when they know the poors are busy blamin’ themselves for being poor?”

I threw one of his empty bottles at him. I hate it when the varmint makes more sense than that guy in The New York Times.

4 thoughts on “The ill logic of the lower classes

  1. Except for the most corrupt and greedy of the laissez faire capitalists (the 1%, Libertarians, and Republicans) everyone of all political stripes agree that capitalism must be regulated. Taxation is the key to that regulation. Specifically a progressive or garduated income tax system. Such a tax system guarantees that your contribution to the general economic welfare is based solely on the amount of profit captured from the economic structure and your use of the commons. Other ways of regulating capitalism include: the checks and balances afforded to the people by unions, a ‘free’ public education, and the universal right to vote. All of these regulatory mechanisms are under assult by the capitalist class (1%, Libertarians, and Republicans). You don’t suppose that both the rabbit and the New York Times knows that do you?

  2. Krugman knows what the rabbit knows, but he keeps on writing increasingly pointed and bitter rants about the venality of some (most?) members of his profession. And about how much better things would be if there were just a few more honest, competent economists in positions of power. That’s not going to happen, of course.

    Gotta go finish that bottle of Crown.

  3. Imhotep: You know, I know and the rabbit knows who our enemies are, and how we could fight back — a sane system of taxation, revitalized labor unions, etc. I just get tired of guys like Krugman and Robert Reich repeating themselves. The diagnosis has been made. We know what should be on “the agenda.” Now what?
    Adams: You’re right, K is always dissing other economists. He ought to spend more time dissing the good-for-nothing Democratic establishment, and proposing ways to overhaul it. Cheers!

  4. (I, um, know this isn’t the point but I just can’t stop myself anymore. Rabbits, swamp or otherwise, are lagomorphs, not rodents. The two aren’t even very closely related. They both gnaw on things, that’s about it. I do realize that referring to “that lagomorph” would interfere with the down-homey aura of the critter. I’ve got no solution for that. I’m just here to pick biological nits.)

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