My parents and I drove through Tamaqua on our way north from Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. It was my idea. Two of the most resourceful rednecks I’ve ever encountered were from Tamaqua, and I was interested in seeing their hometown, to see what made them what they were.
It is not the right stuff. Tamaqua is one of the most overpowering shitholes I’ve ever transected. It’s rundown, it’s depressing, it has worse traffic than most of Philadelphia, and it has a lot of extremely shady characters hanging out on the porch. Tamaqua is the sociology of Albuquerque stuffed into a half-abandoned neighborhood in Pittsburgh where the trees have all been mowed down. *Extremely “Lebanon’s Looking Up!” Voice* Naw, yous can get work at the warehouse if yous pass the drug screen and have open availability; don’t go rawnd sayin’ we never offered yous nothin’.
Other common things to do for a living in Tamaqua include nothing. I 100% seriously suspect trust fund beneficiaries have a lower rate of unemployment than Tamaquans. We hear about unemployed rich kids more than unemployed poor kids for a number of reasons, most of them involving the very toxic “hustle” culture. That used to be an unambiguously pejorative word, by the way, an epithet for transient characters who might need to roll up their carpetbags and leave town within the hour to escape the wrath of their newly wise victims. Nice racket you were running there, pal; shame if you happened to the ship channel. On Soviet Staten Island, Van Kull kills YOU!
The agitprop to admire proles who live in poverty as a consequence of their 80-hour workweeks and resent trust fund kids for living decently without working is aimed at middle-class normies, or at least at people who, as we call it in this country, work. There are underclass families in this country who lost the plot a generation or two ago. Their deep story, to the chagrin of business owners who would theoretically hire them, is a more honest and cynical one: work is for suckers. Cousin Gigolo and his mother subscribe, and they both have payroll work histories. He’s cleared minimum wage, too, just not by turning tricks. Mom burned down her trailer for the insurance money. I believe she was a sheriff’s dispatcher. One of the local drunks sold the work boots the welfare department gave him and went drinking. That was back in some shit like 1965.
It’s not like the poor or the lower middling have always worked, or the idle rich have not. The rich are the ones who really benefit from getting jobs. They’re the ones who score the good conditions, the good pay, and the prestige. They’re always banging on about how they eat what they kill, unlike their siblings and classmates who are lazy but actually depressed by vice of not being psychotic. Their stories are bullshit: the reason they’re in i-banking or power sales or whatever the hell is that their parents are loaded and networked. If you want to be quality, surround yourself with quality, or have your parents surround you with it from cradle to graduate school, since I guess that’s how we classify third-tier MBA programs. Mind you, I’m a mere bachelor of history who’s never had the drive to pursue a master’s degree in Dale Carnegie Studies. I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you ignore me, then flip your shit at me when I ridicule your shitty friends for being yuppies?
Here’s a point of comparison: Are 10% of my prep school or college classmates unemployed and adrift? No way. Are 10% of working-age Tamaqua residents? Probably. We can’t trust the statistics because they’re dry-labbed, and we can’t trust local employers because they’re puffed full of shit about their own superiority to the indolent proles they keep saying they’d hire.
Tamaquans aren’t poor because they don’t work; they don’t work because they’re poor. The 1% or 5% or whatever it is of trust fund beneficiaries who actually disengage from the payroll job market are easily more marginal to their class than the 10-30%–shit, maybe more–of working-age people who crash out in hard-hit rustbelt shitholes like Tamaqua. Imperial County’s U-3 rate fluctuated seasonally between about 15% and 30% before the Rona, which is odd because everyone knows Mexicans love to work, but that’s exactly it: piss-poor campesino lettuce cutters and their children are the only workers eager enough for work to jump quantum out of U-6 when they can’t find any and get themselves recorded in the figures published for the normies.
There’s no money in working. It’s for a reason that insolvent Anthracite Country municipalities have been sprouting so many nonunion warehouses. Endemic poverty and official corruption make these facilities viable in spite of the extra transportation costs of sorting freight on remote mine landfills without railheads. Recruitment isn’t a bust. People need the money.
Some of the old-school blue-collar locals need the work per se psychically to an extent that’s rare outside Anthracite County and other heavy industrial regions. Before long, though, the work ethic gets spread thin. The postindustrial nonunion shops blow sunshine up everybody’s ass about how great it is to work for them, and residents who are honest with themselves recognize the injury and insult they face from these companies as a sucker’s bet.
When I lived in Lebanon County as a teenager, I was always coming across happy horseshit about how great it was to work at, say, the chicken packinghouses in Fredericksburg. Hersheypark, where I actually worked, paid less than the chicken plants–I think–but not by much. Mercifully, only the dumbest (and, I assume, best-paid) assholes in the company gave a shit about the Hersheypark Happy bollocks. HR didn’t entirely act like we were just there to run the deep fryers, but the rest of us had the good sense to know it and act the part. We were within spitting distance of minimum wage, and our immediate supervisors’ wages were within spitting distance of our own. By God this carny shit was a job, not a career.
The amount of this sponsored content I encountered for shit-tier votech tracks where the Puerto Rican ladies on the floor were all so happy because they changed spots every two hours to prevent repetitive stress dropped off a cliff after I transferred to the Day School, where Everyone’s A Wiener (TM). Like hell did anyone there want any of us ending up pulling crop all day for eight bucks an hour. They were paid to keep us off the floor, just like the Lebanon Daily News and the counselors back at Cedar Crest were paid to shunt the slow kids from the poor corners of the district off to Bell & Evans. Ironically, that gig at least pays. Yanqui can’t afford to be picky about stuff like getting a paycheck and some damn FICA if he wants farm jobs, is alls I’m saying. Of course nobody on the prep circuit wanted any of us ending up below the station of an i-banker or maybe a cardiologist’s wife. Oops lol.
Everybody who pays a second’s attention to the schools know this. Places like Tamaqua get the ass end of the deal. The townies can tell when their governments don’t think they’re worth half a shit to society. They know for a fact, and a correct one, that their government and the rich pigs who bought it wouldn’t have hung them out to dry in a failing county full of played-out mines, failing infrastructure, and poverty-wage right-to-work shops if they cared about their welfare one damn bit. The state shows which constituents it despises and prefers dead by exposing itself to them exclusively through tinpot tyrants in the schools, the welfare offices, the criminal “justice” system, and the DMV. The rich don’t get anywhere near such a raw deal. Most of them live around each other in the metropoles to assure it.
As I’ve often poined out in some fashion or other, this is one of Donald Trump’s great political strengths in the Rust Belt. No shit there are racists in Schuylkill County, but I thought we were trying to distinguish it from Santa Monica. The high-turnout local notables in the Anthracite Country broke about the same way they always do everywhere in 2016: this time for their fellow Republican business shyster, not the usual starve-the-beast Republican zealot who tries to grease them with some tact. Much of Trump’s working-class base, however, and likely most of it, had an equally savvy reason to vote for him. At last they had a major-party candidate who bluntly called out the entire political system as a huge fraud and racket instead of blowing endless sunshine up their asses about how the system works just fine and would do them wonders if only they changed everything about their lives.
Political parties do NOT tell voters whose support they value to change themselves. The GOP does not tell its local notables to stop being shysters who routinely commit wage theft and use their businesses as collateral for their drug habits. The Democratic Party does not tell its PMC strivers to stop being shitty freaks who need to chill out about college. They’d cashbomb the shit out of workaday–and loafaday!–Tamaquans if they valued their votes. Scolding the locals for being unambitious, clingy to their roots, and set in their ways is a way of saying Wee Haidt,, Yoo. Hunky crack coal; message: we don’t care.
Rather, hunky cracked coal. And Lord have Mersey on your fairy ass if you don’t suppose a Pollock ever had a bad thing to say about his fellow Slav.
The Brahmins need to hear this. There are worse, in fact much worse, things for a politician to be in a washed-up rustbelt shithole than a boorishly vulgar playboy who pretends to be rich for a living and flimflams his way into getting bottomless cash and credit dumped into his lap. For real, I was around and some cases personally knew people in Central Pennsylvania who owned, among other businesses, Maier Bread, Ward Trucking, and Turkey Hill. I have one degree of separation from the fucking Sheetzes. Yes, I mean exactly the Sheetzes you have in mind, not that my career is made-to-order lmao fml. I have never known or even known of anyone in Central Pennsylvania who acts like Donald Trump. Dude’s alien, even if his son-in-law is REALLY alien.
Hillary Clinton is another matter. She’s a very serviceable example of what made people in places like Tamaqua hate school. Plenty of rich people in rich areas also hate power-hungry incomptents who lord it over those they were hired to serve, but the rich get results for putting up with them. Tamaqua is poor. Hillary would fit in as a principal or a district attorney, and provincials who salivate over DA’s screwing the proles over hate Hillary.
Do we still wonder how Trump won Schuylkill County?
Affluenza cases who ringfence their entire lives to hoard all the good shit don’t like dealing with ill-tempered, capricious tinpot authority figures, either, as we learned from Operation Varsity Blues. Rick Singer got er done, and he wasn’t particularly unpleasant about it. In the poor, left-behind (TM) districts, the sacrifice zones, much of the population cannot remember an interaction with an authority figure that wasn’t bad. Their cops are thugs, their bosses are passive-aggressive assholes or outright predators, social services clerks give them the runaround and look down on them, their schoolteachers think they’ll never amount to a thing, and preachers look at them as something between embarrassing lost causes and two-bit revenue streams. It doesn’t play in Schuylkill County to be a cringe mashup of a pearlclutching church lady, a schoolmarm, a detention monitor, and a guidance counselor who’s always telling the poor kids to consider an exciting career in logistics, i.e., get paid shit to slave away in a warehouse up by the freeway while the company bathes in tax breaks for being a “job creator” with 0% collective bargaining in its shops.
The Donald may have lead poisoning, but Hillz looks down on Anthracite Country for having a case. Trump’s hardhat shtick was always crude and usually vague, but it worked under an assumption of high union penetration: jobs everywhere, money everywhere, shove it up their shaft if they try again to shut down the mine. More to the point, like any other constituency in, say, Bethesda or Streeterville, poor voters in Tamaqua want their elected officials to fucking do something for them. In coal country, that means, well, what else are you thinking besides coal?
Not much of the locals ain’t it, Hillz.
A Trading Places deal between Tamaqua and Chevy Chase Section Five would get Tamaqua’s government recalled within the month. I can’t say this enough: the affluent DO NOT put up with that degrading shit. The only ones who dabble in it are local notables who prefer to stick around town and lord it over the local poor until they’re even worse degraded than to move somewhere with a decent quality of life in exchange for modestly less power.
Like all other politics, this is about power. Does ya gots it or doesn’t ya? Rich liberals are pissed off at provincial hardhats for voting FOR their own interests, not against them. Trump intermittently threatens portfolios and destabilizes the force fields of clout around other ungodly rich and vain celebrities. Crucially, he does it in a way that makes politics look disreputable, as our politics most assuredly are. Trump pisses Washington off for crashing its party at the invitation of mere constituents. To the extent that ordinary voters in Schuylkill County are aware of ghouls like HR McMaster and John Bolton, it’s as the guys who got their friends shipped home from the desert as hamburger meat.
It’s awful that people who never catch a break because every level of government constituted to serve them has deliberately failed them don’t care about the pronouncements of the Intelligence Community about Vladimindcontrol Putin. Pissing a bunch of Beltway scolds off is more than they usually get from their officials.
Tamaqua in an extreme but by no means unique example of a community that gives its citizens no reason to invest one minute in maintaining the system. I’ve spent enough time in nearby parts of Pennsylvania to be pretty sure that if I were from Tamaqua I’d throw up my hands and walk away from it rather than try to fix it. There is a LOT of misgovernment around there. Something had to go pretty fucking wrong for multiple levels of duly constituted sovereign government to produce the slums of inner-city York and Lancaster, the north and east sides of Harrisburg, or Reading in general. For God’s sake Harrisburg is the state capital! It’s a seat of government, and no government with jurisdiction over it can keep it inhabitable for a population of under 50,000!
When full-time employment in productive, physically demanding jobs leaves people living like that, it’s hard to seriously conclude that the answer is to get a job. No, just take a fucking look around and tell me that a reasonable resident of this shithole would consider it worth working to fix and not instead demanding that one or more of the governments aggressively asserting sovereignty over it steps up to the goddamn plate for once.
While we’re at it, let’s not kid ourselves about what bougie normies mean by “work.” That’s what they call 3-4 hours of identifiable work over the course of roughly 8 hours between an air-conditioned office and air-conditioned vehicles. If we’re using the same words to describe the job duties of a strawberry picker, a dentist, a good-looking lazy bullshitter who styles himself an internist, and an utterly no-account college administrator, we’re using words that don’t mean shit. Grossing $160k to sit around an office in Plymouth Meeting filling out Phillies backseat coaching schematics for six hours and looking up insurance law questions for fifteen minutes is “work” the same way Carley Gomez is “my girlfriend.” Gimme a fucking break, Stossel.
These don’t seem like characters who should be questioning my work ethic or work history, or those of anyone else in this country who occasionally pulls weeds, so of course they’re the ones with all the clout and all the civic power.
The night before my parents and I drove through Tamaqua, a friend took me out to dinner in East York. He’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had, but mercy the fucking normcore. He does office work and (mostly?) light field work for a commercial real estate company with a middling regional property portfolio. I’m not clear about how much of his job is actually work. However much it is, it seems to give him a lot more downtime than any farm or yard job I’ve ever had. “I’m clearing a blackberry patch. Okay, I’m mostly just standing around in a half-daze looking at what I haven’t cut, listening to another excruciating hour of NPR for some awful reason.” Come to think of it, yet again, this is what I have to keep reminding myself. Every hour I spend picking blueberries or clearing invasive weeds is a good 40-50 minutes more than some of my classmates spend over the same period walking down the hall to the Keurig machine.
Again, what we’re trying to keep straight here is what the hell is work. It seems to mean about as much as “conservatism.” It’s only Maine Family Values if they’re Mainers; otherwise it’s just Flinty Incest. That’s what the French call an Appalachian D’Origine Controllee. /Most Immigrant Paul LePage Voice/ If I was them I wouldn’t let me into the gene pool, either. The French–not the Quebeckers; figure that lot out for your damn self–the French, since we’ve been mentioning them an unseemly amount, aren’t lazier than us. They’re about as productive; they just aren’t lying showoffs about it. Did it take some work to drive this tractor into Paris? Oui. Did it take some work to hose the agriculture ministry building down with this tank of liquefied cowshit? Mais oui. Are there leftovers? Hon hon hon, is food for piggy!
It is to protest. Shitposting isn’t exactly work, but it isn’t exactly not work, so call it what you will. Two hours a day doing concerted but easy work is a far cry from eight doing mentally and physically taxing work. Our national language makes zero distinction.
Am I trying to say that we’re right to make fun of our compatriots for being lazy or underworked? If they’re loud about their full-time employed status or work ethic, uh, yes I am.
My normie friend’s complaints had to do with the CARES Act, specifically with the way the $600 weekly unemployment benefit “disincentivized work.” I interjected, “and it saved a lot of people’s lives,” and he pushed on: “Yeah, but it disincentivized work.” Shucks, I guess we lost the plot there. In rough economic terms, what keeps the poor alive is consumption, not production, and we produce so much stupid and destructive shit that if we retooled and redeployed workers who are already producing we could add to our already large reserves of /astonished Ethiopian bus driver voice/ stuffs. Besides, too much of it is made in China to take seriously the claim that our rulers want us to be producers, as opposed to the consumers they won’t stop prodding us to be.
Some commercial tenants had told my friend that nobody is even turning in applications. They’re always complaining about that shit and they would best plead their case by shutting the fuck up about it. One of these stores was Dollar General. While we’re on the subject, fuck your Dollar General. My friend said some of the stores were paying a $12.00 minimum wage, which is possible but not convincing when Sheetz is trying to hire managers at only $13.50. Maybe they’d get more applicants by paying employees more. Maybe retail supervisorial responsibilities should start at $15 or $18 an hour. Dollar General might be able to recruit clerks at a starting wage of $20 in its capacity as a soul-sucking shithole. Sometimes it’s just the money, but not always.
The gist of this whining is that the economy owes these fuckheads people who show up as ordered and work as ordered in exchange for compensation packages that won’t keep them safely afloat. Every fucking time they try to make their own recruitment easier, they go for punitive measures that threaten the health, welfare, and lives of employees, not for reforms that would make it possible for anyone who feels like working to work without fear of immiseration, impossible paperwork, and denial of public benefits. They could push for everybody to get a government guarantee of publicly-subsidized healthcare free at the point of service with no questions about billing: Medicare for All, check this box if you want Medicaid, whatever, just not the snowballing horror show we’ve been suffering through for decades. They could push for $600 a week for everybody, the money and the cash that we all welcome in a manner fully allowing and in fact encouraging us to additionally welcome the money and the cash of payroll work. Instead they’re all No Soup For You.
They’re always moaning that these measures would cost money. Yeah, genius, like everything else. The government isn’t stopping them from evading taxes by working for cash under the table–as a practical matter, this goes unenforced–or heading to Eugene in a VW bus and bartering it for a barrel of pickles. What’s stopping that is the desire not to be wheeling a fucking barrel of pickles down Highway 126 like Tom Joad when the truck breaks down. A handful of marginal freaks want a thing to do with any of that. Some things are pricelessly stupid and stupidly priceless. For everything else, there are media of exchange.
Somehow the military-industrial complex and the carceral system don’t register very loudly for businesspeople and their more gung-ho managers as huge public money sucks. What registers for them at earsplitting volume is the waste of giving ordinary citizens public benefits that they’ll mostly plow back into the productive economy, e.g., the businesses they complain they can’t staff. If they think their tax dollars specifically are going to pay for public benefits, they’re nuts. Leaving aside the merits of modern monetary theory, their taxes are being pooled with hundreds of millions of other people’s taxes and some measly shit like 5% of that pool is going to public benefits. Ian Welsh writes that it was more back when we had regular political bombings.
What they actually object to is the government providing for its own constituents in ways that keep them from having to subordinate themselves to people who mistreat them in jobs they don’t like. In causative terms, they expect the government to deprive the poor of their rations as a way to coerce them to work for others. In other settings, such a gratuitous, manipulative deprivation might veer into felony child abuse or a war crime. In this setting, it’s normal. It’s what we’ve always done.
So was slavery.
My dad lately loves to tell about how a hardware store owner he likes asked a couple of girls who had come into the store to apply for work what they planned to do with their lives. The girls appalled him by forthrightly telling him that they wanted to work for a bit and then go on welfare.
We might have more of an American work ethic if we had less of a Chinese export ethic, as displayed on the shelves of that very store. Please enjoy dumping, the traditional and typical of Chinese glorious industrial policy. Plus our dude asked the question. I didn’t need to take a confirmatory look around the county at, say, the quality of company my grandmother kept, to believe that he might not like the answer.
It would be awful to turn into a society where the degraded remnants of the working class go out on the street and sell the work boots they got from the welfare department for an afternoon’s drinking money. We were too proud and self-respecting to do a thing like that back in, like, 1970, when a friend of my grandmother’s boyfriend did exactly that not five miles from the same hardware store. To keep it clear (lol wut), that’s Cousin Gigolo’s grandfather’s buddy. The guy whose daughter and grandson both committed insurance fraud kicked it with a guy who fenced a pair of presumably shoddy boots the welfare department had given him so he’d get a job. I can’t imagine why other citizens of this fine community, where all but a few hundred yards of lakefront is owned by or in trust for out-of-towners who can afford to be jagoffs all summer, show limited interest in working for a living in a store whose merchandise was once made in American mill towns, quite possibly ones in the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys, but is now made in China because Americans don’t want to compete for the job.
Welfare is one way not to compete. The problem with decades of vile propaganda about how the American working class is lazy and overindulged is that some of the working class who are meant to react with shame instead react with renewed aspirations to collect a check just like Momma does. Oops. No shit there ends up being a black market of food stamps for bunks, government board for private room. What else are the losers supposed to do? Crime? That’s always an option, as Cousin Gigolo and his mother show.
No, I do not mean prostitution or drug dealing. That’s work. It’s fine to say that’s no basis for an economy, but neither are summer camps. Nobody who comments on this shit knows a damn thing about it. Pricing in this country is meaningless. The only thing backwards counties in rural Nebraska do is sell grain and meat on glutted commodities markets, depending for their survival on charity from the big cities. All you can do with foodstuffs is eat them.
NPR helpfully advises us that the government cheese program was inefficient. The government had to hire cheese graders, which no private bulk cheese purchaser ever does, and some of the cheese was substandard. Thank God we have to go to the government for shitty cheese that’s free and can’t just go pay for cheese that’s even worse at Walmart. Markets are the efficient way to allocate resources. They would never allocate bulk milk produced by our job-creating commodity dairymen into the Des Moines River starting no later than 1931.
If I were cynical, I’d posit that the entire welfare apparatus in the United States is designed to discourage gainful employment and then blame beneficiaries for being out of work. If the goal is for beneficiaries to get their shit together and get a job, how about not throwing their benefits into chaos when they do that? *Smug headtapping meme*
Our officials know this. They defy FDR’s wisdom about universal benefits because they seek to profit by sowing division among their constituents. Social Security and Medicare are popular because they’re structured to minimize resentment. Reach retirement age and they’re yours.
That’s only a modest simplification. Other programs get nonclaimants and rejected applicants hot and bothered about their neighbors’ free lunch. We wouldn’t need cashiers in our school cafeterias if we had one, come to think of it. There’d be less complaining about food stamp “abuse,” the usual shit about the lazy poor arrogating the right to buy steak at the IGA just because they have the money on their SNAP cards, if all it took to get the free grocery money were to put one’s name and mailing information on a form and sign it as an affidavit of one’s desire to welcome the money and the cash. Believe me: every millionaire currently living on canned beans in a shanty and bitterly complaining about food stamps for lobster would fill out the form and claim the gibs. That’s an extra few hundred a month to stuff into old Folger’s cans and National Geographic collections and leave around the shack, too deep in the junk for anyone else to scavenge. Not one of those miserable bastards turns down Social Security or Medicare, benefits paid for with their hard-earned tax dollars as much as any other function of government.
This shit is ridiculously straightforward. Want to encourage the poor to work? Eliminate all penalties on their reported earnings when they get jobs. Turn their earned income into a 100% marginal benefit on top of their welfare checks.
In fairness, this regime would put certain people out of work. Specifically, it would unemploy the legions of gatekeeping bureaucrats responsible for operating the means-testing regime. It would put the desk detectives out of work, or “work.” There’s no need to investigate welfare claims that are expressly lawful. They’ll be returned to the wellspring in the form of taxes if they’re going to anyone who isn’t poor or living deep under the table.
Jeff Bezos could file his own welfare claims, too, but he’s always too busy buying his payouts from corrupt government officials whose staffers are much obliged to fill out the necessary forms. These benefits keep ordinary people afloat. They are not how the rich piece together their fortunes. Please.
Universal or on-demand public benefits would free Americans to do some of the actual work that needs to be done around here. Tamaqua has more than its fair share of deferred maintenance. So do countless other Trump Country dumps. Means-testing doesn’t achieve the deferment of maintenance on its own, but it sure helps. Keeping people too busy on the phone with benefits clerks and too exhausted afterwards to do anything productive is a good way to keep a shithole down and dirty.
The real purpose of means-testing is to keep useless eaters and surplus labor more broadly employed (if they’re middle-class) or to cull them from the herd (if they’re poor and overwhelmed). Our rulers good and goddamned well know what they’re doing. They want the poor to have a life expectancy of perimenopause. Their family values talk is misdirection: at a minimum, they want the lower half of the elderly to be too poor to pay for a decent meal, just as they were when Social Security was first established. Fancy Nancy doesn’t want her fellow Italian grandmothers hanging around unless they have gelato money, just like herself, and she ain’t handing it out from the US Treasury.
We need to give up on the idea that hard work is how Americans get ahead. It isn’t enough for that to be true for half of Americans, or even two thirds. What about the other third? Guess they can go eat shit and die.
There’s basically no correlation. Dentists work hard, and lawyer-cop-politicians (the Democratic Party, as we now conceive of it) show up to do whatever it takes to brutalize and ruin their constituents and feather their own nests. This doesn’t answer why crooked flimflamming slavedrivers who’ve spent their careers catering to sadistic shakeddown artists deserve a dentist’s retirement fund and thirty-year veteran strawberry pickers don’t.
There are certainly plenty of no-account derelict scumbags and thugs who live in poverty and squalor, but their morals don’t dictate their station in life. Our Old McDonald friend Captain Flimflam could use his existing skillset to get rich running a cult. He’s a few barely perceptible tweaks away from being a pre-gas Shoko Asahara. The Ragin Canajun–who doesn’t dress like an Amishman and look like Bruce Springsteen, doesn’t bend over to cut a 20×20′ patch of wheat into hand-sized sheaves with a little pre-UFW scythe and then fuck off two hours and two valleys over for the night to lose money playing a $200 bar gig with his folk garage band, reliably shows up to tend his farm plots, disposes of piles of human waste when he encounters them instead of letting shit pile up to seat level of portapotties he’s agreed to have replaced, and is the farthest thing from shady trash–the Ragin Canajun is the one who’d have trouble getting ahead in that business if he tried.
America is a society that kinda sorta sometimes does code enforcement. It’d be a longshot to fill Pot-o-Shit Friend’s housewarming gift in Palo Alto and then fly back to Raleigh, but that’s because it’s Palo Alto. Otherwise, it’s basically cool to charge rent on that mute twink’s pre-rural electrification shack and/or some weekly motels. There’s no stigma to preening that hard work explains one’s net worth when it’s a matter of easily provable fact that 60% of it is real estate inflation.
Work per se isn’t the chump’s game here. Do I sound lazy? I write this stuff on my own, but for the love of God if that sounds like a jagoff’s pastime I’ve personally operated an estate winery. This is pretty reputable in a country where it’s considered public service for one pervert to tell another pervert on live television, “Oh, you’re cool. You aren’t a pervert; she’s a lying tramp!” This is why we need Joe Biden, for the courts.
The chump’s game is acting like the system is owed a goddamned thing. The overclasses it’s structured to benefit don’t care about being productive as long as they get paid enough to compel their inferiors to do the work. Trump, Pence, Biden, and Harris all indulge in the same general mode of living: scamming and bullying their inferiors into doing the work. The Angola Penitentiary is literally, geographically a plantation. Senator Girlboss don’t mind. She likes it that way. Two slavedriving scumbag lawyers are running for the presidency and the vice presidency to unseat a mob money laundering frontman cum serial business cum intelligence asset (ours, not Vlad’s lol) and a talk radio grifter. Who the hell would enthusiastically do the work allowing any of these four to keep lounging around and bossing other people around? They deserve to go hungry until THEY come groveling to US. Withholding labor from them is righteous.
The last thing Joe Biden is is working-class. Half the people I know from around Philadelphia who talk like him are lawyers or cops or six-figure sales hustlers. His carrying-on about being from Scranton isn’t entirely false, but the implication is. His daddy never worked in the fucking mines. Dad was a transiently ruined bougie turned used car salesman. Joe’s the town mill owner’s kid who’s always up in his hardhats’ faces for giving him backsass and up in their wives’ privates at company events. American voters are willing to look past this, especially after what they forgave in 2016, but like his opponent, the guy’s a liar, a cheat, and an upper-crust rapist.
To no great surprise, people like them abandon the same troubled postindustrial districts our elected officials have been abandoning for the past two or three generations, depending on which left-behind dumps we’ve been abandoning and how young their girls get pregnant. Our rulers want the residents of these communities to move away to endure worse poverty away from their loved ones, die young, and raise just enough surviving adolescents to provide a suitable number of servants.
They do not want Tamaquans asserting a right to stay in Tamaqua and be given help getting by. That’s a privilege reserved for rich assholes in Chevy Chase. No lie, Billy, they have in fact taken all the coal from the ground, even burned met coal in steam locomotives to keep some rich bitches’ dresses white. In a civically healthy society this would be a reason to fund the maintenance that has been deferred in coal country and fund other economic development projects that actually fucking develop constituents’ economies. In what passes for American society these days, it’s an excuse to drive them into overpriced metropoles and into student debt, to deracinate them for purposes of private service.
It is what the Germans used to call an incentive to make free. These are cultural learnings of America for make benefit the worst possible people now. Thus has it always been. You get food to eat, but only as an incentive.