Spotted recently, loitering in the vicinity of taxes and healthcare reform:
I used an image quote because I never stopped to appreciate how awesome John Steinbeck’s hair was. Also, the look in his eyes sort of reminds me of this sloth who is flabbergasted at what unrelenting asshats people can be sometimes.
The words of others are wide open to interpretation (most especially in their absence), but I suspect this is in the ballpark.
“Look, fucktards, unless you have like, eleventy billion dollars*, all the socialesque programs and high-earner taxes probably won’t be affecting you. You are not wealthy, and you probably never will be. You are not in the same socio-economic class of people whose right to decadence you are defending.”
Those who strive for the power that obscene wealth brings do not wish to assist you, that is anathema to them. And I am not talking about wealth in the sense of abundance. Wealth in this context is not a bountiful land of plenty with enough for all who are willing to put in an honest day’s work.
Wealth in this context is money.
Money is the thing which governs access to the resources people need. There may in fact be abundance, but without the tokens representing units of purchasing power, it is out of your reach.
Money obscures the relationship between the needs of the people and the actual available resources. Keeping the focus on the money can make it feel as though a shortage of money is synonymous with a shortage of resources. This notion grants money unwarranted influence, because so many people fail to understand that it is a made up thing.
A promissory note was shorthand to facilitate people actually getting what they needed when barter wasn’t working out. It used to represent something else of value that was perhaps not immediately accessible or just really inconvenient to carry around. Like, “You give me some food, or a place to stay, and I’ll give you this note that says you can have this something else which is held in trust by a mutually acknowledged third party.” It was understood that, in exchange for some item, you were effectively handing over the deed to some other item of approximately equal value.
A dollar (for example) is now just a note. It basically represents how awesome everyone else in the world thinks America is. It is a permission slip backed by popularity that you use to gain access to resources which may or may not actually be scarce. If it is just a stack of tokens used to move resources around, then perhaps we should try to understand that it is a bad idea to let a few greedy processes sit on the whole goddamn stack. Otherwise, money ceases to be a useful tool for the people to get what they need, and becomes a useful tool for the powerful to remain powerful. Money becomes a metric by which you may evaluate the amount of control you have over your fellow man.
Further, money loses all meaning if we ever reach a point where there is just . . . enough. For everyone, everywhere, enough of whatever we were previously willing to spend money to get. Money is only useful if resources or distribution methods are limited. If money ceases to be useful, professions that revolve around managing money will similarly cease to be useful. People who are powerful because they wield vast wealth will cease to be powerful.
Those that gather power to the detriment of all others do not want to give it up, and they do not want you to join them. The whole point for them is use the power they have to shape the world to their liking. They like you right where you are. Why? Because personalizing the world to your taste is a large task, and plebs are fucking needed.
But I digress. My original purpose here was to point out that, if we are going to call on Steinbeck to highlight issues of economy and society, there are far better quotes. (All from The Grapes of Wrath)
Regarding tweaking resources for the sake of profit.
“Carloads of oranges dumped on the ground. The people come for miles to take the fruit, but this could not be. How would they buy oranges if they could drive out and pick them up? And men with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges… A million people hungry, needing the fruit – and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains.
And the smell of rot fills the country.
Burn coffee for fuel in the ships… Dump potatoes in the rivers and place guards along the banks to keep the hungry people from fishing them out. Slaughter the pigs and bury them…
And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificates – died of malnutrition – because the food must be forced to rot.”
Regarding the disconnect between the elite and common society:
One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty car creaking along the highway to the west. I lost my land, a single tractor took my land. I am alone and bewildered. And in the night one family camps in a ditch and another
family pulls in and the tents come out. The two men squat on their hams and the women and children listen. Here is the node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the anlarge of the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here “I lost my land” is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate–“We lost our land.” The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first “we” there grows a still more dangerous thing: “I have a little food” plus “I have none.” If from this problem the sum is “We have a little food,” the thing is on its way, the movement has direction. Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are ours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side-meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women; behind, the children listening with their souls to words their minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It’s wool. It was my mother’s blanket–take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb. This is the beginning–from “I” to “we.”
If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin, were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into “I,” and cuts you off forever from the “we.”
Regarding . . . I’m not entirely sure. The limits of man. Dawning understanding that you have been taken for a fool. Indignation. Revenge. All of the above.
. . . and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.
I am deeply grateful to the teacher who assigned this to me as summer reading. It altered the way I viewed the world. It made me angry and sad in ways I had not yet experienced. I guess that was the point. Well played, 10th grade American literature teacher.
It also prompted one of the first conversations I had with my grandfather where he made no pretense at behaving as an authority figure, and I managed to listen without being an impudent little shit. I feel like it has to be some mark of adulthood when you are able to consider your parents (or grandparents) as actual human beings on their own terms, and not just who they are in terms of you.