Monday, February 25, 2008

Happy is the country held together by chains of plastic.

Dear George,

I take such pleasure in the social regression your administration has set into motion. It is a walk down memory lane as you bring back those golden days of yore when a man knew his place in life’s pecking order and there was none of the uncertainty and doubt that accompanies social mobility. If a man died in the dung heap into which he’d been born, there was no shame attached to it, no sense of dishonor for failing to climb the economic ladder and achieve success through hard work and ass kissing. If you were born poor, you died poor.

And you are bringing it all back.

What is especially heartwarming is how you have made indebtedness an instrument of social control as it was in the golden age of commerce. Debt kept the sharecropper on the land and the worker in the factory.

Sharecropping sang in those days with its forward and its settle. The plantation owner gave the sharecropper a mule, a plow and seed (the forward), with the understanding that the debt would be repaid (the settle) when the crops were harvested. It was the birth of creative bookkeeping as the owner cooked the books so the sharecropper never paid off the debt. Debt slavery replaced physical slavery, and the sharecropper was as tied to the plantation as the slave had been.

The mining and timber industries quickly picked up the beat with their company towns and company stores. The bookkeeping was just as creative in the company store where books continued to be cooked, and if a man became disgusted with working sixteen hours a day, six or seven days a week and tried to leave, the owners got the sheriff after him for nonpayment of debt.

Now the banks have replaced the plantation owner and the manufacturer as the America’s debtmeisters. Instead of cooking the books, the credit card companies keep the mob in hock through usurious APRs and backbreaking fees. As factories close and as workers are forced further down the economic ladder, it is chains of plastic that keep them in the workplace, willing to accept shit jobs that pay shit wages. This plastic slavery is aided and abetted by the shrinking availability of health care that forces the proles to max out their cards whenever illness strikes.

Might I suggest that you borrow a page from your Latin American cronies? In many of those countries, debt is inherited when a peon croaks. It’s really democratic when you think about. If the rich can will their wealth to their children, why shouldn’t the working poor have the same privilege and be able to will their indebtedness to their children. Very often it is the children of the poor who start agitating for social justice. Why not nip this in the bud by having the children born into debt poverty?

In truth, inherited debt would make little difference. What the credit card started, the mortgage will finish. The poor bastards will never get out of hock and America will be blessed with a pool of labor that is as surplus as it is impoverished.

Thanks to you the happy songs of the oppressed will once again echo through the land as minstrels sing of happily indigent workers leading simple lives of simple faith while the system crushes them in preparation for their ascent into a heavenly paradise.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

3 comments:

thepoetryman said...

I guess I know my place in the scheme of things. When I pass I want them to just shovel the remaining dung over me and be done with it. I'll go relishing in the fact that my children will not stray too far from the heap... Drat!

Case Wagenvoord said...

And I'm sure your remains will grow the prettiest tulips.

thepoetryman said...

Uh uh...I done got purty lips, I'd perfer they be violets `r sum utter purty bloom...