Saturday, February 14, 2009

Obama's Stimulus Package is Bound to Fail

because the working classes have been as corrupted as the professional classes were, both kowtowing in tandem bobs to the paymasters of the global elite, fed their shares of the pie called elitism, secrecy and tradition, although they lost their souls, and grew thin in the bargain.

That one end of the polarity is represented by the bailed-out Wall Street bankers whose schemes have gone awry, (actually, I think the public high-school sweethearts from Montana who rose to the highest levels of power and disservice in Washington D.C. are a better archetype---Lynn and Dick Cheney,) fixes the other pole end at the co-conspirating union workers who reconstructed the Pentagon for their slices of kickbacks; or the uniformed municipal service workers who priced faking their own deaths on 9/11 at around $2 million each; with enlisted military personal having to share the spoils of war with the ravenous complex, which has grown up around them, thereby "earning" whatever fruit was promised them as their everlasting afterlife.

All these sides feel present in my faceted nature. From my maternal relatives on the Illinois side of the Mississippi river stem a blue-collar class element, alternatively proud, calculating, or beholden; while on my father's side of the river in Iowa, grew the better-educated, professional aspirants to a share in the American dream. Kookily, as metaphor and symbol at least, it is at this geographic point where cities in two states join to form what is known as the Quad Cities, that the Mississippi river runs horizontally across the map, from east to west, for almost a hundred miles, forming the distinctive, snub-nose eastern profile of the state of Iowa.

In some cases, I have remained ignorant of my clan imprinting. On a recent trip homeward, I searched through some family archival material and discovered the following two images. Dating from before World War II, both were inside of a period, drugstore envelope that had been marked in a cursive hand, "Sterl's Farmall Pictures." I'd never seen them before, but I recognize the name "Sterl" as likely being that of my mother's grandfather, "Sterling" Crossman, husband of Isca, father of Mary.
Farmall was one of the big manufacturing plants centered in Rock Island and Moline, Illinois---the "Farm Implement Manufacturing Capital of the World"---home of John Deere & Company, with big Caterpillar, International Harvester, and Case plants alongside.

I can't tell if the men depicted in this ceremonial image manufacture the pallet-driver machinery we see, or are posing alongside the empty tools of some other manufacturing trade, since I never knew my great-grandfather, or have any conscious memory of discussing his livelihood. By my time of life, his daughter, who became my grandmother when she was only 36, owned a tavern, and later, the building it was in.

But this picture speaks to such a deep place in my soul, beyond any sense that here is a missing link in a masculine bloodline I'd been denied awareness of, to the tragedy I see as its inherent message---of what has been lost over time since then, the values we see the men have on display, like collective pride in the role of one's labor, loosing even the ability to take pride in what one does for a living, knowing that every part played in our social contract has become so shamefully warped and interconnectedly corrupted that we can, at best, only consider ourselves lucky to have side stepped the worst of it.

A contract between capital and labor that seems so much more honest and sustainable back then, is reinforced in the second image I discovered, of a strictly male crowd of happy company employees at a Christmas party. While these men don't look as if they had the same callused hands of the pallet drivers, they are indistinguishable from the men who wait table on them, like the two men front and center who make googoo eyes at each other. If everybody's good spirits are rising up from drinking, then it's whiskey in china mugs, and not cocktails they imbibe.

How my great-grandfather fits in to these two class levels escapes me---they look like younger men when the attainment status is higher, or maybe lower class jobs are just harder and wear out a man's looks quicker. But the current legacies of working-class rage appear to be a later rust-belt phenomena, missing from when times were good, and the resentments more manageable (at the close of the 19th century, Deere & Co. was the fifth largest American corporation, making Rock Island/Moline the Silicon Valley of its day.)

With the trillion-dollar band aids of spending money which doesn't even exist being a mere burp to a system which needs a radical purge instead, like figuring out what is real---we take one more step in awakening to our true value and our real meaning, the core purpose, the ultimate truths, which have escaped us for lo these thousands of years.

No comments: