Friday, May 26, 2023

Saints With Blue Collars

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids — the Stickies — eventual selves to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted.  

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating meltdown.  


Featuring Dana: Hallucination, guest star, and charming literary device  

"If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold." -Andrew Lewis

Dear Stickies and Gentlereaders,

I'd like to say thank you to the literally tens of millions of men and women of the "working class" that labored long and hard to build and maintain the incredible country I grew up in while taking it, and them, for granted.

While I'm at it, I'd like to thank the working-class men and women who continue to do so. I'd especially like to thank the literally millions of folks in the "service industries" who pick up the garbage, cook the food, man person the cash registers, clean the... well, everything, etc., etc., etc.

Prior to retirement, I myself was an overworked, underpaid wage slave often as not. But once in a while I moved up the ladder and became an overworked, underpaid low-level boss who got paid the same salary regardless of how many hours I had to put in.  

Now retired, although my income is frustratingly modest, I'm both a happy and grateful camper. Every morning, when I don't have to leave my warm, comfortable bed and report to a j.o.b, is glorious. But I know (and knew) all sorts of H. sapiens that like their working-class jobs.  

There truly is no accounting for taste. 

I, a member of an ancient, bankrupt, and dissolute family of Austrian aristocrats, who as an infant was won by my "father" in a poker game at the Gem saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota, have inherited an aristocratic nature but not much else. 

When I graduated from high school in 1971 I started working full-time in the grocery store where I had been working part-time. Knowing next to nothing about the real world didn't stop me from being a lefty with vague socialist notions. 

I was a naive, idealistic Boomer who knew it was only a matter of time before my generation would fix everything that was wrong with the world, once we took control, and divvied up the pie into equal slices.   

In 1971 it was possible to get a decent job in any number of industries. A man could support a stay-at-home wife and kids with a 40-hour work week but wives with jobs were becoming the norm, as were "career" women of every sort. 

And then, slowly but steadily, everything changed. Nations that had been decimated by the second world war were now part of a rapidly growing global economy and (understandably) wanted what we had.

America, who had saved the world's butt in World War 2, and then helped get the planet back on its feet, found itself competing with Germany, Japan, and everyone else in a different sort of war.

The use of a pill called "the pill" became widespread and abortion was nationally (if temporarily) legalized. 

A well-meaning Henry the K. invited the Chicoms to the party. Unfortunately, that hasn't worked out quite like we hoped for many of us, and many of them for that matter. 

Employers had access to more potential employees here and a lot of jobs were sent over there, never to return. No biggie, we were assured. The "creative destruction" of capitalism would eventually generate new and better jobs. 

It had always worked fairly well before, and as I grew up while moving to the right, I — a formerly staunch, wild-eyed free marketeer and libertarian, nowadays beset by some doubts — believed it. 

But then the naive, idealistic Boomer tech nerds of the garages of Silicon Valley ("information wants to be free") devolved into high-tech Lords that make the robber barons look like rank amateurs.

"Here's some 'free' software. Go play, have fun, we'll keep score (slice, dice, and sell your data). Sorry about the Great Recession, sorry your job has been 'disrupted'. Let's all pay a special tax and then divvy up the proceeds among the masses, a Universal Basic Income if you will."

Circuses and Bread!

We feel your pain, we're woke after all, but we're citizens of the world now and must think globally. We're so over borders and patriotism and tradition. And why sweat the God question when soon we'll all live forever?  

Universal basic income, robots, and artificial intelligence... What could possibly go wrong? The future's so bright we're all gonna need shades. Hey, check out our AI software, It's free! 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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