If anything crosscuts all that is American, it’s our perpetual perpetuation of childhood games.
Life is a neverending movie of good guys solving all the world’s problems by shooting them.
I got into an argument with a conservative friend of mine about the Wisconsin wildfire.
“I’ve always depended on myself and not anybody else doing things for me,” the longtime business executive said.
My friend is a victim of the cowboy myth. President Reagan lolled away the hours watching endless reruns of Gary Cooper in “High Noon,” roundly considered the greatest western of them all. The bad guys are coming back to town and the recently resigned sheriff sticks around to face them alone.
Like most, Ronald the Vague missed the point. The sheriff wasn’t alone. His wife, played by porcelain doll Grace Kelly, joins him in battle and the most beautiful woman ever filmed takes a shotgun to one of the would-be assassins.
I reminded my friend that America was not built by solo heroes but by teamwork. When every man is an island who needs no one, you end up either with dictatorships or Italy, which got used to having its government dissolve every couple of months because all the mama’s boys playing in parliament took their balls and went home.
Somehow, we’ve lost the fire that now burns brightly in the young of the near- and middle-east. When the people of the Philippines and Ukraine saw their elections stolen, they took to the streets and threw the bums out. After a 5-4 partisan vote of the U.S. Supreme Court inserted Bush the Lesser into the presidency, a few rotten tomatoes were hurled at Dubya on inauguration day.
We so love the cowboy myth that it’s easy for the likes of Lush Rambo to whip up the weak-minded. At last Monday’s Carson City demonstration in support of Wisconsin workers, anti-unionites were outnumbered about 300 to 12. Two carried their signs in front of the labor gathering. One read “unions equal depression.”
I asked them to inform me which union caused Great Depression II. They had no answer. I got several e-mails echoing them.
“Far sited (sic) folks like you have brought this nation to this point. With your help the unions will finish the job. Thanks for the motivation to end my union membership,” wrote one couple.
“Please let me know which union brought us Great Depression II,” I responded.
“It’s not about who caused this down turn,” (sic) they wrote.
Oh really? Dubya the Elder played that gambit perfectly. “Mistakes were made” but nobody was responsible or accountable.
“It is about those among us who look at self first and not at the prospect for economic collapse,” the couple continued.
“Lets just clear this up, the states do not have the money to continue with the status quo, the Federal government will continue to borrow until it spins this economy into a generational malaise with debt all of us will spend the rest of our life’s (sic) to pay off. We have never seen this type of challenge before. Good luck with the riots,” they concluded.
Even President Obama has fallen for that dimbulb thinking. Cutting government spending and rich people’s taxes will solve all our ills, despite eight decades of conclusive evidence to the contrary.
Duke John of Orange Boehner, Retro-Ohio, and his fellow moonhowlers are threatening to shut the federal government down unless major spending cuts are enacted and signed into law by our appeasement-minded president. The single dumbest thing you can do during a depression is drain the economy of money. Herbert Hoover learned that the hard way.
The teatards of 2010 had very legitimate gripes. The average American worker has not had a raise since 1973. Productivity (output per hour worked) has doubled while corporate America, with the help of both political parties, exported our best jobs.
“With unions declining, the Democratic Party turned to the only other source of money and influence available in large enough quantities to replace Big Labor: Big Business,” writes Kevin Drum in the new edition of Mother Jones Magazine.
And so we are treated to the spectacle of President Obama prostrating himself before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in preparation for a re-election run as a moderate conservative.
“With labor in decline, both parties now respond strongly to the interests of the rich — whose institutional representation is deep and energetic — and barely at all to the interests of the working and middle classes,” Drum concluded.
Which is why Wisconsin is so critical. It’s made labor stand and fight. In his ancient tome “The Art of War,” Sun Tzu warned of the danger of fighting a cornered enemy.
Last Sunday, I advocated a national strike as the logical consequence of the Wisconsin wildfire. Last Monday, local members of the venerable Industrial Workers of the World (aka The Wobblies) passed out flyers calling for that national strike. The first of a wave of meetings was held this past week in Madison, Wisc.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan, chair of the Nevada César Chávez Committee, member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO and editor of NevadaLabor.com. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.