As the Obama years come to a conclusion and a nation wonders what’s in store for us with Donald Trump, I thought I would take some time to talk about who the real middle men and women are in this country. It’s not the middle class worker because let’s face it, the middle class is disappearing. It’s not the hard working taxpayer either. You will be surprised to learn that the real middlemen and women of this nation are our elected “leaders.” After all, they are the ones who choose to do the dirty work of others while creating the illusion they are our bosses. They aren’t.
We think we live in a democracy because every two years we have the opportunity to vote and select the men and women who will represent us. It seems with each election, the public’s approval of what our leaders are doing, whether it be the president or both houses of Congress, ebbs and flows somewhere between 10 percent and 50 percent.
President Obama is set to leave office with what are considered very high approval ratings primarily because his name is not Trump or Clinton. If it were for the job he has done, then even Hillary would have won the election and be set to be sworn in.
Our congressional leaders have horrific numbers, less than 10 percent approval, and yet we have managed to re-elect over 90 percent of them again. Why is this?
Worse, we continue to allow tax increases to be used as a solution to our problems. Just look at California. How many times has Governor Brown claimed there just isn’t enough tax revenue to provide some of the most basic needs for our citizens? Have you been asked to vote on a “special” tax to prevent layoffs of law enforcement, fire, or emergency services? Maybe you voted for one to get your roads paved, schools upgraded, or downtown renovated. And yet, if we listened to Jerry talk some more, he would tell you what a swell place California is because he has managed to create a bunch of new jobs. How does it feel to have one of those jobs at your local dollar store or mini mart?
This is not democracy.
So if we are not a democracy, what are we and why are our leaders really not leaders?
We live in a money-based society built around a system we call capitalism, one we have convinced ourselves leads to great things like competition and rewards something called hard work. Lately, the competition has been over the scarcity of decent paying jobs and the hard work entails men and women with college degrees having to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. I am not sure any of this sets well with the majority of our citizens, and yet, what have our leaders done other than guide us to this juncture?
The only real leaders are mostly very wealth white men who care primarily about one thing: accruing as much wealth as humanly possible. This not only requires a true love of money and yes, a strong work ethic, but it also requires a near total disregard for the rest of mankind. It’s resulted in less competition and the development of massive corporations whose hands, and greed, are involved in places all over the globe.
The Oil industry is a good example, but not the only one. How is it we have so much interest in what goes on in the Middle East? It is strictly because of the money there is to be made there off of oil and nothing else. However, who wants to fight a war so Chevron can get wealthier?
Consequently, big oil pours massive amounts of money into the campaign coffers of our elected leaders with the direct expectation they find a way to get the rest of this nation on board with fighting a war that will protect their interests overseas. Enter Islam and terrorism.
Let’s convince our Christian citizens there is an evil that needs to be stopped in its tracks in he form of terrorists who want to come to America and take what is ours. If this were true, we have done a shitty job of defeating them, whether it be the PLO of the 70s, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Boko Haram, or ISIS, our war to stomp out terrorism has been about as successful as our war on drugs.
Thankfully, if you run a corporate conglomerate with interests in the Middle East, it has done you well to see our elected leaders convince us of the impending doom we face if this evil is not eliminated. As soon as one is, guess what? Along comes another.
The tech world is just as guilty as is any other major industry you can think of. Under the capitalists mind set, the only thing that matters is “mo money, mo money, mo money!” But with fewer conglomerates, how is it possible to make your wealth?
Over the last 30 years, while there are fewer oil companies with greater wealth and influence, we have also seen a decline in the number of automobile manufacturers, airlines, health insurance providers and even publishers of text books. Nothing is off limits when it comes to getting wealthy.
We have seen drug lords attain great wealth, fame, and even respect. Nothing is off limits from getting rich. In his prime, Willie Mays earned $200,000.00 dollars, an obscene amount at that time and yet today, if he was playing, it is not unreasonable to think he would earn 100 million a year. Today, we see the likes of Kim and her sisters making millions of dollars — for what? Who cares because now young women think it is perfectly acceptable to make bank selling yourself just to be rich. Why go to college and get a degree that comes with massive debt when you can stay home and post stupid videos on You Tube and get rich?
None of this seems to concern our leaders because they are too busy trying to decide how they can effectively navigate the transition of this nation toward the evils of marijuana.
There are important matters to debate as a nation like which bathroom someone can use or whether or not people can rejoice living the American dream on $15.00 an hour. This is the really important stuff we have to wade through so forgive us if there just isn’t the tax revenue to fix the poison called water in Flint, or the air in Porter Ranch, or the 100 year old lead-line pipes in Los Angeles. If tax increases can’t solve these problems then rate hikes surely will.
Democracy is a system in which the people make choices about their lives, their environment, and what they expect from their leaders. It lets the people decide whether or not a war for oil is worth going, without other goods and services. It requires a level of interest and involvement among our voters and not merely checking our phones for what they have been convinced are the day’s important headlines.
Capitalism is a mixture of greed and laziness. The greed comes from those whose only desire in life is to do anything it takes to get as rich as possible. The laziness comes from the rest of us who care about more important things like doing as little work as possible while buying as much crap as we can without thinking too much about the plight of others or the consequences of our handing over our power to a bunch of middle men and women who we have allowed ourselves to convince us they are our leaders.
Capitalism does not care about the cost of higher education. It does not care about whether or not a quality public education is available. If a capitalist can find a way to make money off of public schools, then they are a genius in the eyes of other capitalists. Otherwise, our schools serve little purpose to them other than as a way to provide a distraction and service for parents.
Teachers are lazy and lack drive rather than being dedicated and underpaid and under appreciated. Stay at home parents are obsolete and pointless. Day Care and another household earner is a better way to raise children because the rich get richer off these people.
It is the task of well financed and well advertised elected men and women to guide the thinking of the masses, to distract us from the realities of the greedy SOB’s who hold the real power. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or Kanye West; it doesn’t matter who sits in the Oval Office, they are mere caretakers of a complex system we have allowed ourselves to unfold and serves as an insult to all the hard work done by our founding fathers.
We can blame the greedy, the elected, the perceived foreign threats, the lack of jobs, drugs, the media, our schools, or whatever color or gender you have been convinced to hate. However, each one of us has a hand in this mess and the only thing left to debate is whether or not the shark has jumped the boat or if we have it in us to do the necessary work and take the necessary risks to take back what is rightfully ours, our country.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.