Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why John Doesn't Get Joe...or Jane...or John...or Julio....or Jamal

Between you, me, and well, the internet, I have to say that I'm developing quite the crush on Robert Reich. In fact, in the debate last night I was crossing my fingers that Obama would speak his name as one of his advisors. He of course dashed my dreams and didn't. What Obama neglected, I'll bring to light.

One of the things that has irritated me so much about the way in which the current "bailout" has taken place, was the blame that the American Worker and the Middle Class and Working Class folks out there have taken the shaft from every side. (And I'm not talking about Joe the Plumber, who has a recession proof job and can afford to buy a business.) Not only are they being screwed because they can't get credit to afford basic things, but they need credit in the first place to buy basic things. And to add insult to injury, there are people out there who consider themselves concerned and compassionate people who continue to blame those who have suffered most in this crisis (and continue to suffer the most) as a way of explaining the problem. It's like you can't talk about predatory lending without throwing in some quote about how some people abused the system. You can't discuss credit without saying that people live beyond their means. You basically can't talk about the have nots without faulting them for having not and wanting more.

I'm not here to say that there aren't people who live beyond their means and that I haven't been one of them. But what I am saying is that we have got to stop demonizing the working men and women of this country who have to get credit cards to pay for basic necessities because wages are stagnant and jobs are few and far between. People who took on larger mortgages than they probably should have were convinced by so-called experts that it was not only okay, but a good way for them to build equity and credit. Moms and Dads who use the plastic at the pump to get to work aren't doing it to afford a vacation, they're doing it to afford a life. So for those who don't have those problems and for those who never have had those problems, it's not surprising that the average John, Jane, Julio, Joanna and Jamal are being lambasted for doing what they needed to in order to get by and, god forbid, get ahead.

And to that message, comes Robert Reich's latest commentary. It's short and sweet and to the point: the American worker has been taking on more than s/he could handle because s/he has no choice. Very few Americans are vacationing, let alone taking luxury vacations. Very few Americans are purchasing new cars, let alone fancy ones. Very few Americans are taking on new homes, let alone ones too big for their budget. And yet we cannot seem to demonize the true demons without throwing some dirt in John, Jane, Julio, Joanna and Jamal's faces. It's a classic fault of the limousine liberal and it's coming out in places I never expected. I expect this commentary from GWB. I don't expect it from seasoned labor lawyers.

The thing is that today's American Worker is damned if she does or doesn't, whether she spends or saves, whether he works or not. Joe the Plumber is an exception, not the norm. And even if he were, McCain would still fail to grasp the ways in which his policies would kill him and bleed him dry.



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