We’re living in a civic horror show. This shit isn’t amusing any longer; it’s truly scary. Donald Trump was able to hijack a night’s television news broadcasts by yelling at journalists during a press conference. If I weren’t so jaded, I might have found it engrossing. Instead, I found its domination of the national news utterly disgraceful. It wasn’t newsworthy. The newsmen turned themselves into the news because that was cheaper than going out and finding the real news. The mainstream media are widely rumored to want to neutralized Trump. Few things would make him and his advisors look humiliatingly impotent than for the press pool to boycott their press conferences. They’d be the losers who invited a bunch of people to their party and couldn’t get any of them to show up. As much as journalists hostile to Trump complain about him and his administration, they keep dutifully showing up to these ridiculous press conferences because they’re the last ones to turn down easy access to power or to chase a difficult but meaningful story when an easy but meaningless one is dumped into their laps. Besides, their ratings would fall. Trump is great for ratings. Enough viewers enjoy a good food fight to ensure it.
This press conference corresponded with the “Day Without Immigrants,” a one-day strike of mainly immigrant employees in the service sector, which also commandeered more than its fair share of the news without being put into its proper context. This strike was a mobilization of immigrants to publicly celebrate the unwillingness and inability of Americans to hold down productive menial jobs. We’re to believe that these immigrants are honored to work themselves to exhaustion for a pittance doing demanding, often dangerous physical labor for a soft, decadent, derelict native stock. We’re to believe that this arrangement will not naturally degrade into the simmering resentment of a haughty, condescending native citizenry on the part of an alien underclass. We’re to believe that the resulting mutual distrust will not threaten the legitimacy or stability of the republic by provoking disputes between the enfranchised natives and the unenfranchised immigrants over the scope of civil rights and liberties.
Worse, we’re to believe that it’s somehow healthy, normal, and reputable for our society to be unable to function from day to day without a desperately poor and profoundly foreign reserve pool of menial labor always at the beck and call of the managerial class. This assumption is antithetical to self-government. It requires a subordinate, vulnerable foreign population to live and work long-term under the jurisdiction of a government that expects it to fulfill most of the responsibilities of citizenship in exchange for few to none of the rights. This is why inherently dangerous jobs, such as meatpacking, have gone from moderately dangerous but well-paid to exceedingly dangerous and very poorly paid since the 1980’s. Enfranchised workforces demand relief from their governments when they’re abused by their employers. The whole point of illegal immigrants is that they’re expected to pay some damn dues before anyone dangles a path to citizenship in front of them. They’re here to take up the slack from an enfeebled native stock.
Americans celebrating their own progressive softening, their own inability to run their own society, is an ominous sign of national decadence and decline. But it’s not entirely what’s happening. Much of it is the haute bourgeoisie and its lesser hangers-on celebrating the national weakness on behalf of their entire country, including dispossessed lower-class Americans who desperately want to be gainfully employed doing something tangibly productive. The latter never asked management to fire them and give their jobs to a foreign peasantry, and they never asked to be silenced. They aren’t the ones who rolled into workaday towns on the prairie, beat the meatcutters’ unions into bloodied submission, flooded the zone with Mexicans, seeded an epidemic of methamphetamine abuse by forcing line speed-ups and pay cuts, and then spent decades sanctimoniously intoning that Americans no longer have the mettle to do an honest day’s work.
What’s really driving the White llies of the Day Without Immigrants is the fear that, without immigrants, they’ll lose access to their servant class. They’ll either be deprived of creature comforts or have to provide for them with their own personal labor. The news reports focused on restaurants that closed or went shortstaffed. How much of the santimony came from White Allies who have $20,000 home kitchens? How much of it came from people who could perfectly well do their own cooking, cleaning, and yard work but would rather have compliant campesinos do it for them on demand?
The casualty toll from this shitty attitude is quantifiable. It’s published in statistics on industrial injuries and deaths. But looking any of that up involves being more interested in the welfare and safety of menial laborers than in being a grandiose yuppie shithead.
So far we have a yuppie swarm that will sell its own fellow citizens down the river in order to optimize its epicurean Downton Abbey LARP. We might wonder which political party represents it. This is a trick question: they both do. So does the Libertarian Party. This is why the Democratic Party has been veering into crude bootstrapping agitprop and smearing shit all over the remnants of its old labor constituencies. Constituencies that demand honest pay for honest work cause scandal among constituencies that use bullshit artistry to demand lavish pay for more bullshit artistry. Both major parties are run by weasels who scurry away from the sunlight.
That is, both parties and their circles of beneficiaries and favor-curriers are Acela elites. Why the hell does the US right wing have this screwy beef with a specific train service, and an efficient, highly-utilized one at that? Being against socialist trains is just their cover. The crux of the matter is that the Acela, a federally subsidized and chartered common carrier, has been perverted into a rolling country club, and these self-described “conservatives” are every bit as complicit as the “liberals.” It’s emblematic of coastal privilege: it requires pay-to-play (the tickets are so fucking expensive that I, a train buff since the age of ten, still haven’t been spendthrift enought to buy one), it is lavished with resources that Congress the likes of which Congress won’t allocate for flyover country, it’s exclusive (the fares again), and it feels European (but without the operational capabilities that have been available off the shelf in Europe for over twenty years). The federal government will dump money on this vanity project for Northeastern social climbers, but it somehow can’t spare the funds for a second daily run to Grand Rapids or doubletracking through the oil patches on the High Plains. Mainstream transportation reporters are too ignorant and lazy to get into these nuances, so instead we hear about out-of-touch Washington elites being spoiled by this speed train.
Besides, if the conception of the Acela Corridor as a slur were really about socialized high-speed rail, the Acela crowd wouldn’t also be so obsessed with Uber. Operationally and philosophically, Uber is nothing like Amtrak. It’s just that Acela and Uber both cater to people who think they’re too important to slum it with the poors on Amfleet (a bitchin’ ride) or Metro (a bitchin’ local ride, although admittedly a routine clusterfuck). They’d catch NetJets if they had the money.
This bullshit squad is now frantic that it will be dispossessed as Trump abolishes the spoils system or (realistically) redirects the spoils to his own more openly vulgar crowd. His is an exceptionally divided and incoherent administration, daily at cross-purposes with itself, so the bougie freakout is over possible dispossession, not actual dispossession. A bunch of grifters and rentiers are violently flailing about, trying to shake off their own karma. It isn’t pretty. They’re afraid that they’ll lose their seats on the gravy train and, God forbid, be forced to work for a living. They have an ominous sense of how bad that would be because they’re guilty (or, for the “conservatives,” self-righteous) about the nightmare that they’ve made of the workplace for the poor.
There’s no reason that an expanded, robust social welfare state couldn’t get their sleazy asses into the projects and hooked up with food stamps, too. Or they could feign disability and claim that Washington made them mentally ill. Well, shucks, what do I mean, “feign?” They’re facially disturbed.
Yes, this offer applies to Paul Ryan, too. If he believes in the dignity of work, he’s free to fucking do some. Since he actually believes in the indignity of having other people do the work, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t enjoy the same repute as any other parasitical government check beneficiary who never bothers to look for an honest job. No, P. J., it isn’t a parliament of whores, unless you mean a parliament of Aileen Wuornos; no need to tar the rest of the whores with that brush.