Sunday, February 20, 2011

hell and heaven

It is hard to remember that in times of economic want, there are always well-to-do people, people whose ox has not been gored, people whose comforts remain more less in tact and people who hope to keep those comforts in place. These are people who deserve what they have without thinking very clearly about what others may have or deserve: Generally what they deserve and those on whose labor those comforts arise are ... well ... the way things are supposed to be.

In Wisconsin, where demonstrations against the union-busting budget of a hard-pressed governor inspired counter-demonstrations Saturday, "Joe the Plumber" was in the crowd supporting the governor's efforts, according to the BBC:

Among (Governor) Walker supporters was "Joe the Plumber", real name Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, who figured in the 2008 Republican presidential campaign.

"Unions don't deserve anything, you don't deserve anything, you work for it yourself!"

This is the kind of language that those who deserve long to hear. It has the ring of truth at the same time that it declines to investigate why others should question the conditions imposed by the 'deserving.'

Anti-Walker protester Jim Schneider, 69, waved a sign with "Hosni Mubarak?" written next to a picture of the governor, who has refused to negotiate with the unions.
"The Egyptians have been a great example to us," the retired teacher said. "What happens here is going to be very important to what happens in a lot of other states, just like the thing that happened in Egypt had an effect on a lot of other countries in the Middle East." (Complete BBC story)

[For the second day running, I can find no reference to the Wisconsin protests in My Way News' "top," "national" or "business" offerings. The American Associated Press seems to think Wisconsin does not exist.]

Meanwhile, in China:

BEIJING (AP) - Jittery Chinese authorities staged a show of force Sunday to squelch a mysterious online call for a "Jasmine Revolution" apparently modeled after pro-democracy demonstrations sweeping the Middle East.

Authorities detained activists, increased the number of police on the streets and censored online calls to stage protests in Beijing, Shanghai and 11 other major cities. Citizens were urged to shout "We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness" - a slogan that highlights common complaints among ordinary Chinese. (Complete AP story)

"Ordinary Chinese." "Ordinary" Wisconsin residents. "Ordinary" Egyptians, Tunisians, Bahrainis, Yemenis.

Not all of them agree with each other, but a great many of them are in the streets seeking ... what? ... something not quite so ordinary, perhaps. They seem to be saying that they deserve in a way similar to those who, in gross and subtle ways, assert that they are deserving.

"Get a job, for Christ's sake!" But what job?

"Be responsible, for Christ's sake!" But responsible on whose behalf?

"No one owes you anything!" But is this true if those who lay claim to deserving receive what they deserve based on the labor of those who deserve less?

I don't much care for waving the we-are-all-connected flag. It's too often used by smarmy white-whiners. But, setting aside the kissy-face stuff, we really are all connected and as such need to think things through. Business is based on greed -- OK. But greed is that which goes beyond the needs of shelter, food and some sense of security. It is the bottled water crowd.

I once read that happiness was only partly based on wealth -- that beyond the basics of food, shelter and some sense of security, wealth provided no measurable assurance of happiness. I think I would argue that people want to be happy. Happiness cannot arise from depending on someone else's unhappiness. That's just greed.

Sometimes you have to raise some very concrete hell before anything resembling heaven can appear.

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