Monday, April 29, 2013

Throwin' the Poor Dogs a Bone

Probably most of you don’t remember Memphis Slim and his rendition of “Throw This Poor Dog a Bone.” He is begging a woman to hold him in her arms or at least, as I remember it, “throw him a bone.”
This seems to me curiously related to what is going on at the moment in our bizarre culture. I notice there is a movement now to provide food stamps for pets. One could, I suppose, believe this is a noble, altruistic, caring, and nice thing to do. I mean, there are people so poor they cannot afford to feed their pets, so why should government (or somebody) not provide them with food stamps to alleviate this unfortunate situation, noblesse oblige carried to an extreme, wonderful.
There is another way to look at this apparently generous offer. Consider that we now already have millions of our citizens on food stamps, living either under or on the poverty line, which, as they cannot afford to feed themselves, they cannot afford to feed their pets. The powers that be, gigantic corporations, businesses, and the unbelievably wealthy, would prefer not to have to even provide food stamps or unemployment insurance, are delighted to have a surplus labor market so huge they can pay starvation wages, and are more than merely content with the situation as it is. They agree to food stamps mainly to keep the “peasants” they have been creating from rioting in the streets with their pitchforks and clubs (and pets). And so it is for food stamps for their pets. There is a bottom line to be maintained, just sufficient to prevent a revolution, if feeding their pets helps to placate them it is, for them, a smaller price to pay than having more unrest.
There is no doubt in my mind that the powers that be have systematically over the years attempted to reduce the average U.S. citizen to little more than a basically illiterate, poorly educated, easily pleased, and docile creature who will accept his or her condition without thinking or creating trouble. This can be seen in our progressively failing educational system, our television wasteland, the barrage of propaganda extolling the benefits of capitalism, and our relatively new ethos of anti-intellectualism that seems to have become virtually universal throughout the nation.
There is, I think, a height of (perhaps a depth of) depravity beyond which they dare not, at least at the moment, go. That is, they must realize that ordinary citizens can be pushed and trained into patient obedient peasants and serfs only up to a point, and they are getting dangerously near that point. Thus it is that at least a few of our billionaires will admit that perhaps they should pay a tad more in taxes than they do (these must be ones that are aware of the French and Russian revolutions), if they are to avoid the inevitable fate of the overly greedy. They may have already gone a bit too far as I notice there are beginning to be some major strikes at Walmart, in Chicago, by Nurses, and others, perhaps precursors of more to come. There is also a much overdue suggestion that the minimum wage (which guarantees a level of poverty even for full-time workers) should be raised. President Obama’s suggestion of $9 an hour is basically insulting to anyone with the brain of a slug, ten dollars an hour is not much better, fifteen dollars an hour is better but still doesn’t bring the minimum wage up to where it would be if inflation were taken into account.
The minimum wage we now have, along with food stamps and unemployment insurance, along with Social Security and Medicare, are themselves merely bones that have been thrown over time to the poor dogs to keep them from biting the hands that feed them, such rewards probably cannot work forever unless, for some reason, they are substantially increased which seems unlikely at the present time, especially with Congress in the hands of millionaires only too happy to be further rewarded for their votes by whatever special interests strike their fancy. When you achieve a population that appears to be satisfied with individual billionaires, and has five or six people with more money than 40% of the rest of the population, you should recognize the pathology involved and consider making some major changes. Unless something really drastic happens by, and/or as a result of the 2016 Presidential election, I should think 2017, the hundred year anniversary of the Russian revolution, might become another significant date in the ongoing battle over greed and human rights.

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