Saturday, November 03, 2012

Bloodbuzz Ohio

Go read or listen to this amazing interview with the Matt Berninger, lead singer of The National.

"Growing up middle-class, I never thought to question that I was provided for. My parents, we never talked about money. They had plenty of money stresses but as kids we never really felt it. They made Christmas ornaments out of costume jewelry, stuff like that, but we never really thought about being in a class -- and if you're in a class where you don't have to think about it, then you're in a class that's well enough off not to worry."

When I first heard this song, I thought it was a love song. Then I thought it was a song about going back to the place you grew up and feeling nostalgic for a time when that was all you knew. Then I thought it was a commentary on the financial crisis. Apparently, it was all of the above.
"I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
The floor is falling out from everybody I know."

I feel like I have been tremendously lucky in my life and, in particular, the last few years. It would be so easy to tell myself that it wasn't luck, that our remaining financially solvent is a direct result of our intelligent and responsible choices. Sure, maybe. But over the last few years, I have seen friends lose their jobs and go into large amounts of debt, friends who thought they were making similarly intelligent and responsible choices. And, let's be honest, our circumstances have a lot more to do with our relative privilege, and the privilege of pretending we aren't privileged, than it does with any choices we made.

One of the things which surprised me was the disdain displayed by the Republican Party for people who are struggling, both in their platform and in the things they say when they think no one is looking. Heck, I have been stunned by the Republicans I know who have said casually racist and classist things, so casual they don't even think they are being racist or classist and they accuse me of being too PC if I mention it. However, I guess it shouldn't surprise me. If one chooses to be completely blind to one's own privilege, if one constantly tells one's self that one's success is entirely one's own doing, that you built it, that one's community and family wealth contributed nothing, then I guess one would believe that all the people who were not doing so well were just irresponsible moochers whose hardship is their own fault. Because if you are born on third base and thought you hit a triple, you would certainly cry foul at anyone who gets walked if they are hit by a pitch.

Yes, economic recovery has not happened fast enough. However, it makes no sense to suggest that the way to fix our economy is to reinstate the same policies which caused the meltdown in the first place. And it especially makes no sense to say people deserve to live in poverty and go hungry or that being too poor to pay federal income taxes means one is irresponsible. But I guess sense doesn't have a lot to do with it, it has to do with the way you see people. I certainly don't think all Republicans look down on those who are struggling. However, they are supporting policies which advocate increasing the tax cuts for the wealthiest of the wealthy while cutting the programs which help those most in need. What is in their hearts and their very best intentions are all well and good, but ultimately, those are not reflected in how they vote.

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