Monday, October 24, 2011

Quote of the Day


"Do you really want the bar set this high? Do you really want to live in a society where just getting by requires a person to hold down two jobs? Is that your idea of the American Dream? ... Do you really want to spend the rest of your life working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week? Do you think you can? ... And what happens if you get sick? ... Look, you’re a tough kid. And you have a right to be proud of that. But not everybody is as tough as you, or as strong, or as young. Does pride in what you’ve accomplished mean that you have contempt for anybody who can’t keep up with you? ... And, believe it or not, there are people out there even tougher than you. Why don’t we let them set the bar, instead of you? Are you ready to work 80 hours a week? 100 hours? Can you hold down four jobs? Can you do it when you’re 40? When you’re 50? When you’re 60? Can you do it with arthritis? Can you do it with one arm? Can you do it when you’re being treated for prostate cancer? ... And is this really your idea of what life should be like in the greatest country on Earth?"

-- Max Udargo in the Daily Kos, responding to the ex-Marine who posted the above picture of himself on Erick Erickson's "We Are the 53%" Website

Udargo echoes the exact sentiment I expressed last week in talking about Herman Cain and the relentless praise he heaps on his parents' willingness to hold down three jobs while raising him. Not the fact that they did what they had to do, which is inarguably commendable, but seemingly the fact that they lived in a country where such a thing is not only possible but preferable -- as if it's some sort of honor to work your fingers to the bone just to scrape by.

To his credit, Udargo addresses this insanity -- and the guy in the picture who appears to be 100% behind it -- pretty brilliantly.

14 comments:

Tuba Terry said...

I'm a former Marine too.

I went from being in the service to making double my Corporal pay in two years. Since joining the IT industry (with no formal training), I've been unemployed for a grand total of 8 days. Right now, I'm working 30-ish hour weeks on my own schedule and making enough that my required expenses (rent, utilities, transportation, food) make up around half of my income. In other words, I'm in a pretty damn good position despite the shit economy and despite the system generally set up to fuck over people who want time to themselves.

I saw a comment on this site recently that summed up one of the common issues very well: (Paraphrased) "As an individual, holding down three jobs can be a point of pride. It shows work ethic. As a country, that's something you'd more expect from the third world." So in a sense, I can understand where the 53% are coming from. They're proud of their work, and I applaud them for that part at least, even though they're wilfully ignorant of what the OWS people are saying.

We are all products of everything that's happened to us up to this point and how we've reacted to it. If it weren't for my intellect and interests, I'd have had a different schooling path. If it weren't for my Drill Instructors, I wouldn't have learned how to complete an honest day's work. If it weren't for my friends, I wouldn't have made quite so swift an entrance to my chosen profession. If it werent' for my parents helping me move half-way across the country, I'd still be in a place with no job prospects for said profession.

I worked my ass off to get where I am, but I'm not enough of a self-absorbed, individualist Ayn Rand asshole to believe for a second that I got here on my own. I'm also not wilfully ignorant enough to believe that hard work alone is the key to success.

Why is so much of the country scrabbling so hard just to keep up? When it gets to the point where half the people you know are struggling, it's probably time to stop calling people lazy hippies because there's something more going on. I know you 53%-ers are pretty self-centered, and that's probably why when you see us OWS people protesting, you think we're trying to get a handout. It makes sense! You can't see any way to live other than watching out for number one, so an entire group protesting about jobs and stuff, you just have to assume that they're demanding these jobs for themselves. Sorry, we're actually genuinely concerned that there's something bigger to be fixed. I mean, I certainly don't need a handout as I probably make more than you, so I guess you're going to have to think a little harder about what to call me. I just wish you bastards would take the time to figure out "Fuck you, I got mine" is not a virue, it's sociopathic.

I'm successful. I'm comfortable, I'm relatively happy, I'm saving for the future. Hell, I'm even doing better than a lot of these 53% assholes are, I only need one job to get by. But you know what the difference between the 53% and me is? I'm honorable enough to give the people in my life the credit they deserve for helping me get where I am. I am the 99%.

namron said...

Tuba Terry, your story is the baby-boomer story. I am a boomer. Like many of my genration I was smart, worked hard, and enjoyed good luck. The matrix supporting the convergence of smarts, hard work and good luck was set up by my parents, members of the Greatest Generation. Unfortunately, we boomers did not keep up our part of the bargain. We seriously Bogart-ed what we were passed and enjoyed the high of great wealth and privilege with no concern as to the next guy in line. The 53%, like we Boomers, are on that material high that makes us believe that our luck is wholly self made. Well, we are now crashing from our thirty year trip and the morning light is looking pretty ugly.

Marsupialus said...

How many of the so-called 53% call themselves Christians? None should based on their intolerance for the "non-producers" and the ones they deem lazy and parasitic. Every friend I have who is out of work is not so voluntary. They've been down-sized and outsourced. They've worked for companies where senior management has made stupid stupid decisions. Are my friends somehow responsible for their situation because they were not masters of the universe but loyal workers?

That marine who tells us how hard he works. I'm sorry, but I don't like him. I don't applaud his work ethic. I don't venerate him. If he thinks the life he leads is a fulfilling one then he's an idiot. Work is what we do to live it's not life.

When the stress catches up with him and his heart crashes -- and it will. Not this year and not next but maybe in 10 or 20 or 30 years. He can look back on the intransigence and rigidity of his younger self and agree that his bold statement was nothing more than the folly of youth.

We always think we're going to live forever when we're young. There are no consequences. We'll have our health. But the one hard truth is that eventually we are non-extant.

Anonymous said...

I am thankfully in a position where I am awfully close to being in the top 25%. I have a home I am likely to pay off after a grand total of 5.5 years.

I am hardly homeless or begging. I agree with the Occupy Wall Street crowd on principle, not because I will ever receive any benefit from the movement.

What the "We Are the 53%" group lacks is perspective. How did we get to the point where we are now? How did things get so bad that there are now worldwide protests over the economic situation we find ourselves in?

The answer is simple: jobs are scarce and per capita pay for those who *are* employed is so low because the top 1% have redistributed wealth to... (can you guess?) the top 1%. Income disparity between the top 1% and the bottom 1% is wider than it has ever been in most people's lifetimes, and at the rate it is going, will probably surpass historical highs within the next decade or two.

Average people see hiring and wage freezes in the name of "weathering tough times" as the same companies post record profits and give out huge bonuses to board members. They see their jobs disappear through no fault of their own and no lack of effort, and then turn around to watch incompetent (if not outright criminal) behavior from bankers result in bailouts and bonuses.

It is a situation that is unsustainable. Should things continue on their track, the end result will be a lot more than simple, peaceful protest.

CNNfan said...

Look the workforce has gotten wise, and the corporate culture has lost a lot of street credibility. By hoarding cash, instead of making new cash, the corporate culture has isolated itself into a high burn rate, all of its very own.

Two types of workers have emerged in our workforce: Burnt out workers due to an inadequate number of employees and very well rested workers forced to take a half-pay vacation. Both fully realize their circumstances are through no fault of their own.

Anonymous said...

I have a less verbose response to the 53% Marine. Fuck you. Tough guys like him want my thanks for protecting me from being blown up by terrorists at a football game, but they wouldn't give a shit if I died a slow, agonizing death because I didn't have health insurance or couldn't work hard enough to put away $300K for live-saving surgery. And fuck Erick Erickson, too. And fuck Herman Cain. Godfather's Pizza tastes like my dog's runny diarrhea.

Tuba Terry said...

@Anonymous 10:02 PM - You're pretty much right on that. You know how there are a lot of sexists who think women are weak and need protecting? Guess what most Marines think of Civilians.

medic8r said...

People! Wake UP!!!

I mean, am I the only one concerned that Anon 10:02 is eating his dog's runny diarrhea?

Tuba Terry said...

@Namron:

That's an interesting parallel. It's easy to squander what someone else worked for. I'm 26 now and I think I'm doing a pretty good job at avoiding the "self made" idea at least. If I'm conscientious enough, maybe I can avoid repeating history too.

Liz said...

A million thanks to those who echoed my sentiments exactly. I am a vet as well that at one time had no health insurance and worked two jobs to provide for my kids. Am I some kind of hero because my husband left me for greener pastures and I was forced to do what I could to survive? No, and neither is this fucktard. This former bullet-sponge seems to be missing the salient point. Go ahead and tell Corporate America about how much you love to be treated like shit for little pay and no benefits, and watch how fast you're assigned a spot in the circle-jerk that comprises the current job market. Oh wait, too late, hope you like the taste of corporate cock. Mmmmm, tastes like bootstraps and self-aggrandizing bullshit.

Anonymouse said...

I'm sorry, but the notion that its 3rd world to have to have 3 jobs to pay for things is retarded. Third world countries typically mean that the vast majority of the time is spent just generating enough income to pay for daily calorie intake. Its not having three jobs...its incredibly difficult to even have one job. Unemployment and literacy rates are usually above 50%. And even then, the chances of getting paid for a "job", say teacher, is near zero. It means that the water coming out the tap is completely unreliable...and when it does, its contaminated. It means systematic use of violence in political disputes. Rape is often used as a method of political control. Children are often left at the dregs of society, fending for themselves not only against criminals, but also the police and acceptable society.

When I hear Americans try to even link their situation to that of the 3rd world, I have to laugh at the insanity of the idea.

Like Tuba Terry, my views are completely influenced by my military experience. I learned quite clearly that there are ingrained social injustices in our society. For example, I was a nuke in the navy and I, like 99% of them, was a white, middle class kid. Whereas the guys on the mess decks were 99% Filipino. I would never argue that there isn't a racial and social economic background issues when it comes to quality education in this country.

But at the same time, there has never been a period in human history where people expected to get good paying jobs, without freaking paying for them. Honestly, if you shop at Walmart or any other massive chain that brutally suppresses wages, you can't complain that the economy is shit. If you are unwilling to allow factories to be built and operated realistically (ie not restricted by massive regulations), you can't complain that jobs are going overseas. If you have a fucking service sector job, with a skill set that makes you incredibly easy to replace, you can't complain about a lack of job security.

Americans simply amaze me. Everything is always the result of someone else who is to blame. Bush dragged us into Iraq War II, gays are responsible for Katrina, if we just pulled out of the Middle East, everything would just be fine. We are all the problem. We all need to seriously grow up and stop pretending that our issues are even remotely close to 3rd world.

Chez said...

Congratulations, you just made it clear that America isn't the Third World. Good on you. You can be proud.

Now, about the fact that we're the richest country on the planet -- one that once prided itself on its vibrant and thriving middle class -- and we're now being told to expect that working three jobs and often still barely scraping by should be the norm or even a point of pride.

Oh yeah, and you can argue all you'd like with the fact that it is the little guy being forced to sacrifice for those who fucked our economy into submission -- you can call it passing the blame -- but you'll be wrong.

And the best thing about America? You're completely entitled to be wrong.

Anonymouse said...

Ha...no what America is currently experiencing is the same damn thing we forced on the rest of the world...Globalization. We fucking destroyed a lot of lives and economies in the 3rd world to get our obscene standard of living. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. The simple fact is that the average worker is not competing with just his fellow Americans, he is competing globally. Our current standard of living puts a lot of roadblocks in our way in terms of competition. We could do like Germany or Japan, and specialize in high tech industries...but that would require us to have kids going to college something other than a cake degree.

Do I like clean air and water? Fuck yeah. But I realize that this comes at a cost. This means manufacturing in this country is significantly more expensive. I have a hard time listening to Americans complaining about a lower standard of living when Globalization has caused fucking famines in Africa and parts of Asia.

How exactly am I wrong? How are workers supposed to get more benefits when the average consumer has routinely shown they will always go for the lowest cost possible? The average American doesn't give a shit about anyone but themselves.

I am not saying the system is beneficial to anyone but those at the top. But WE collectively created this system. WE collectively prevent any meaningful change. WE lived on an elevated standard of living that pretty much was based on colonialism in everything but calling it such.

We need to fundamentally change not only our economic system, but the way Americans view the world and their place in it. Considering we can't even get universal fucking healthcare, I'm not holding my breath.

But whatever...I'm wrong...though I suspect that we agree a lot more than either of us realize Chez.

smitmaul said...

I think I get what you're saying, Anonymouse. We Americans have done this to the rest of the world, and the global economy being what it is, it's come to us. Okay. I got it. But what pisses me off is that we Americans pride ourselves on having a democracy. Our vote counts, and my vote's as good as the next person's. It ain't happening that way anymore. Votes are bought. Politicians are paid for. I think this, more than a lot of other stuff, pisses a lot of people off. Because a lot of shit wouldn't be happening if there weren't a lot of whores in government.