Monday, August 02, 2010

Reverie on the American Nightmare

Reverie on the American Nightmare

By Tom Bearse on Aug 2, 2010 5:36 PM EDT

I found the Financial Times story cited by maha, to which puddle linked, emotionally wrenching.

I was downtown today, walking by other downtown workers in the skyscrapers, on the sidewalks and along the skywalks and, viewing each one, thinking how insignificant they were. No business, or a scant few, sees any value in an employee anymore, regarding them only as fungible assets to be cast adrift as the economic climate demands. I felt like a useless cog, too.

There was a time when I worked in the City-County Building and saw daily these people who worked in offices like the Council research office or the City Budget Department or the Neighborhood Planning Committee, all civic minded agencies who worked in an era when attention was paid to such matters. They were accountants and midlevel bureaucrats who lucked out and caught on with a city or county office, obtaining steady jobs with benefits and pensions. I used to think to myself they were like ghosts, occupying positions in agencies from a bygone era, soon to lapse into extinction.

Now I am starting to feel like a ghost, a strange sensation when I think back to the late 60's. I was preparing for college and the idea was bracing. I thought of myself as about to wade into a huge wave of progressivism and activism, left like the wake of the Great Society and the Civil Rights movement. The corny old world of close-minded, 9 to 5, colorless, grey flannel bureaucrats from the suburbs would be drawing to an end, and endless possibilities for social progress seemed to lay ahead.

I look back at it now, and I think of all those peace and love hippies I matriculated with as the CEO's, bankers and business moguls of today who have managed to destroy a generation's work in establishing collective bargaining rights, medical benefits and pensions for workers, leisure time; all the trappings of the American Dream from the black and white TV shows of my youth, for a return to the Gilded Age. They control the capital, and have erased all the gains made by average working people to accumulate even more of it. It's pretty obvious by now how far backwards in time we're traveling, and it's pointless to deny that we've caused it ourselves.


This is the link the above was in response to:

1 comment:

hannah said...

Yes, I don't think anyone imagined that in promoting equality we were setting in motion an agenda that would make everyone equally deprived. But, that's because we also didn't realize that there's a significant population of people who feel good when they can compare themselves to someone who has less. They perceive the lesser evil to be good.
Perhaps it's because they're bi-polar and really can't perceive more than two sides to everything.
Who knows where the either/or perspective comes from. But, for some reason it got enshrined in our economic analysis. We've got a lot of error to reject.
But, I think it would help not to take it personally. When we focus on the effect, it's hard to do anything about the cause.
If people are bi-polar, we just have to keep them out of positions where they make decisions.