Arrows of neon and flashing marquees out on main street.
Chicago, New York, Detroit and it’s all on the same street. – The Dead
Now that the monsoon season is here – the warm muggy days that end in rain, torrential rain, and some kind of upper-level disturbance that causes all manner of zany fun – we can kick back and realize that most of us have to work long hours through the summer in order to fall further and further behind in our bills. Gone is the 40 hour work week, especially for those who make less money, who stitch together jobs and work in order to squeeze by. The two week vacation, for the most part a thing of the past. For many Americans their debt has risen over 350% while the average savings and wealth increase is around 250%, leaving the average American with 1.99999 legs to stand on, statistically speaking, and a shit ton of bills to pay. I came across an establishment, a mechanic shop, where everyone was off for lunch. An hour. They said, return at 1PM. I was angry, disorientated, shocked, how dare these people take lunch, how dare it be an hour… then I thought how programmed I have been to gulp down shitty food at my desk to use every hour of the day to catch up on work, how distant the age of closed on Sunday and off for lunch had become to me. It made me wonder if other strange things like “retirement” would also be true, could be more than a dream. Whatever happened to the working man?
This month, it seems that my student loans have been sold to a higher bidder and this new owner’s money is worth more than the last one. What was I thinking when I went to college? I was told way back then that I would be developing a life-long relationship with the bank that fronted my loan. My loan has since passed about like the village tart at a party so many times I don’t even remember who I originally owed money to. Back then some dizzy freak at the Bursars Office just handed me a stack of paper and said, sign this son, one tour in trang and you set for life. My insurance has gone up too. Why did I ever buy property and be a homeowner? To be part of a community? Ah well, I was told, you get a discount for loyalty to Der Insurance Kompany, but my premium has still increased over $200, ah but our cost have gone up son and you signed up to hit Charlie hard so fork it over son, you have to believe us, since we paid to make shit up all day so we’re good at it. Strange that the damage many people sustained in Rheinlandistan was not covered by any insurance, such as I was told by one Property Owner who had an insurance on his business, on his home (above the business), on the furniture in his home, and liability on the business, and none of this paid for the flood that overtook his business (on the bottom floor).
Just opened the water bill. That’s gone up, I guess they’re putting name brand bleach in the water now. The taxes must go up since the PoPo continue to drive the best squad cars in the region. Friggen snow peas at the Shop O’Mat are $5 a pound, and I’d say they’re in season but the ones in the store don’t come from any country I can name. While I can get bags of strangely coloured chicken for .95 a pound, real food has increased in costs making a simple tomato an investment. It seems unless you eat the processed subsidized junk, you have to dig in harder and harder into whatever sack you are carrying around your gold and bitcoins. Yet, it is now common knowledge and most understand how our incomes have flattened and income inequality is growing and growing so that our country looks more and more like the rest of the Americas. Third World republics, except we cannot manage to grow bananas, tobacco is not king either.
We are living in the time of American decline, of Neo Poverty, where we work all day and take home less and less. This blogger has of late been wondering whether it is all worth it. Keeping in the rat race… Maybe it is time to just drop out, live in the woods and only come to town to break into people’s houses and steal their trashy magazines and some bacon. Or all their bacon. It seems that many more people are working all the time and yet qualify for Food Stamps… I mean, Snap Benefits(tm) where the customer is always right (sm).
The other day I was in the Unemployment office… ahem, the Division of Workforce Solutions 🙂 and while waiting to talk to some brass tit or another to ensure the Powers That Be that no, I was not using my benefits (that I paid for by paying into the system for years, so actually in a way, my money) in order to support my welfare queenish existence, I was not lounging around and spending all my winnings on drink, that I was actually trying to get a job since the fucking $405 they give me a week is EXACTLY what it was in 2007 while inflation by the books says that we should at least get an increase to $450 and if you are watching certain prices, and not eating Cream-of-Miracle-Whip on your WonderBread you may actually pay even more than that for common goods, I was using my benefits to support myself in order to find gainful employment. In this office the rather somnolent gentleman at the desk who managed to melt his buttocks around his chair called to another office-dweller, this customer is here for an appointment. What? This customer is here for Lenny.
I don’t remember buying unemployed. As a product or a service. I mean, part of me thought my former job was a dead end mistake and most of the directors and mangers knew even less about technology than the people who contact the IT Crowd, which was funny since the company works in technology. “Did you turn it on and off again” I almost blurted out in a meeting once… And there was the rude lady yelling at contractors on the phone “do you know who you are talking to” which I never heard in my live said in real reality but thought was only said in reality TeeVee and in regular TeeVee and that she would shout this out on the floor of the “office” (really a huge worker pig pen) no matter who else was on the phone or what clients may be around made it office joke gold. And then there was the competition among employees, the fact that we were all competing against one another in order to get a piss poor promotion or two. One sweaty little guy was super competitive, to the point where he’d run to HR and whine about getting his ass slapped or the girl at the front desk looked at him funny or someone said something naughty about his blow jobs on a bathroom door in a bar way way across town. And the copy paper always ran dry and no one knew how to replace it… because we worked in a technology company. And the free juice had lots of sugar yet there was exactly zero Mountain Dew. However, I had work to do, I had a paycheck every two weeks (minus the taxes to pay for all our wars), and really today in this country, a job seems to be a job since modern American business life is about as pointless as any Greek comedy (Note- to those who forget, a comedy in those days is just a story where not everyone dies). Few vacation days since they’re bundled with sick days, personal days, mental health days, and screw work I will just stay in bed and drink all day days. Forget about promotions, cost of living, please, you think you can avoid your email over the weekend, what, Sunday night is all about answering the pre-Monday emails and getting a jump on the competition and being the Hero of your own Ian Rand masturbation fantasies Raaaaaaaahhhh!
So, I am now an unemployment customer. I choose to come into the office… because if I didn’t my benefits would be canceled. As a customer, I choose to not waste my time to come in to your stupid office. Actually, as a customer can I buy more benefits? No. No, sit down or you will call the police? OK, I guess as a customer I do whatever you tell me. However, this is the ruse we play in the Late Empire. We’re all customers of a new dictatorship of the consumer. Eating in one end, shitting out the other, some of us sewed together like the Human Centipede perhaps, all of us clients since we have choice, even when we don’t.
The other day I was in a cafe up in Rhinelandistan and listening to the blokes at the other table talk as they do each morning about how shitty our little town is that we all bought in to. How the place is corrupt, petty, and perhaps soon bankrupt. Each assembled at the table is a Property Owner and has seen his or her value go down over time so that it is a negative investment. The owner of the cafe after years of buying in to hard work is selling out, perhaps with enough so he won’t have to keep paying on his mortgage. Most of the others will also sell with a loss of some kind. Many will say markets rise and fall, but so too empires, and this one we live in seems to be drying up, even if it does not do so according to our old Catholic History books when recounting the anathema or Rome. We work hard, and yet fall behind. Too many are at hand to ensure we pay them their bribes, formalized corruption we call the system. From the fake wars we consumers bought, to the fake education reform media conglomerates sell, to fake mortgages and credit, to pretend jobs that have meaningless benefits we consumers seem to be making a lot of bad choices. From signing our life away for a student loan to choosing to buy a house and pay all manner of tax, from buying not just one war on Terror but two and then looking around to open a new front. Buying programs to spy on ourselves. Buying failed tax rates. Buying corporate welfare. We consumers really need to think about what we are doing, maybe watch a few episodes of Horders on NatGeo and then enroll in therapy in order to kick our compulsive consuming and get back to basics.
I have resigned to the fact that I will work hard and have nothing to show for it. I will struggle and lose everything. We all die anyway, and can’t take anything to the grave but experience. I have been going on bike rides in order to build my strength and when I do I’ve been listening to the Greatfull Dead’s Truckin’ song. And I am not a fan of The Dead. I’m just seeing that fighting is futile. I am more resigned that I will live better if I choose to be a poor person… to look at everything as a poor person does. To stop trying to get ahead and realize that a roof over one’s head isn’t that expensive if you are willing to reduce your expectations, a junk chair may be comfortable, a bike can be some transportation, and food can be for the most part grown Live in a place where the outdoors are free and close by, avoid contact with media of all sorts, give up all forms of infotainment, and enjoy life. Downsize, rightsize, and realize that yes, after you have earned enough money for the day, we all may as well go fishing, make cheese, play with yourself. It’s maybe all just a little too European for the American ear. Maybe too zen. Let the wind blow because we will all just learn to bend a little more.
Because the alternative to the above is slightly harder. If we want to retain the middle class. Were we to take back our control of the system. If we risked it all and faced out own country’s vast arsenal of crowd control machines as they are in Turkey, our own secret and not so secret police as they did in Iran, if we went up to the powers of corruption that maintain our banks, credit card systems, student loan hegemony…
Well, there would be blood. And that doesn’t come out of our clothes with inexpensive detergent.
Sometimes the light is shinning on me, other times I can hardly see. – The Dead
Editors Note: Following up with calls for buying our local police a pony, currently there is a Federal-level investigation of our local sheriff for sexual misconduct as well as several other corruption investigations going on that may force the retirement of our local village chief or chiefs or other. This comes a few years after another branch of our force had trouble with their chief getting a DWI, and the case of the missing pounds of cocaine and several guns from the evidence room. Seems the police need more than a pony.