I’m sure Townsend was writing about politicians when he penned
the above. Or reporters. If there were ever two groups afraid of
saying anything directly, these be the two. Shucking and jiving.
Slipping and sliding. The two groups have lots in common. The higher
they rise in their particular hierarchies, the less moral & ethical
innards they possess. And the shorter their memories.
A case in point: I had a discussion with a supe Wednesday morning
regarding Tuesday’s runoff election for city attorney. I was stoked.
Not that I particularly trusted Herrera. Nor was it because I’d
endorsed him over Lazarus (the best of that piece ended up on the
editing room floor anyway).
Naw, it was because the biggest paper in town (the Chronicle)
took another torpedo amidships vis-à-vis its credibility. I told the
supe that I thought a big part of the reason that Herrera won was
that the Chronicle endorsed his opponent and people just don’t trust
the Chronicle. As evidence, I noted the horrible record of
candidates & issues endorsed by the Chron over the past year. Supe
disagreed, which I thought strange since the Chron hates him.
Anyway, don’t look for any Big Phil Bronstein editorials headed:
“Why nobody votes the way we tell them to anymore.”
The ever-tightening gyre
I’ve been out-or-work since August. The small savings are gone.
I’m getting by on the kindness of friends, which is no way for an
able-bodied adult male to live. While frustrating, it is also
instructive. I got around to applying for unemployment compensation
this week. We always think that just because we’re great at our job,
someone will want to hire us. Not so.
The UI (unemployment insurance) isn’t for everyone either. I
haven’t made over $125 a week in six years (that’s enough to live on
if your living space & utilities are part of the package) and I
doubt I paid enough to get anything back. Interestingly enough, the
State Board of Equalization thinks I’ve done well enough over that
period to not only send me tax bills for over $3,000 but also to
contact my last part-time employer to attach my meager wages. It’s
funny in a way. While Walter Shorenstein gets massive tax reductions
from the city, the state gets me fired from the only work I can
find. Anyway, for those of you about to join me in the breadline,
it’s easier to get the ball rolling on state & city funds.
You can sign up for UI on-line now. You still have to fax or mail
your form (5 pages) but you don’t have to go to a huge office and
wait for hours to file. I faxed AND mailed my forms. The quicker I
get that rejection, the quicker I can file for General Assistance.
Now, that’s truly the bottom of the ego barrel.
It might be a lark if I weren’t truly busted. Sometimes you have
to “bottom out” before you head back up. Living close to the edge of
the economic abyss is part of the price you pay for pursuing your
Over the 40 years of my work life, I’ve drawn unemployment
insurance two or three times and GA (General Assistance) twice. It
took me less than a month to get off GA both times.
I hope it doesn’t get to that point. Food stamps. Soup lines. Bus
Humiliating stuff. While the rich get richer. The more time I
have to spend fighting for basic survival, the less time I have to
attack them. Sounds like an age-old tactic. It works in the short
term but in the long run, it creates malcontents, radicals & finally
It seems to take around 40 years for each cycle in the United
States. The rich turn the screws on the poor tighter and tighter,
grabbing more property and paying fewer taxes until the poor revolt.
The masses of poor hit the streets with Molotov cocktails and
stones. In the 60’s the streets of Detroit and Los Angeles looked
like an Intifada was underway. Tanks rolled back crowds of thousands
who stoned and firebombed in their rage.
Suddenly, the rich relented and created the “Great Society” under
Lyndon Johnson. It had three key Ingredients. First, it provided
more welfare and jobs. Second, it created huge construction programs
to build more housing for the poor. Third, they started a war to
give the angry (largely black) youths someone to shoot at other than
Forty years before the 60’s the poor also rioted. Tanks and
troops repelled an army of poor estimated at over 100,000 in
Washington D.C. The Republican Congress of the time handed out
“bonus” checks to placate the poor.
It wasn’t enough. They were driven from office by an enraged
electorate and only Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” saved the
country from an outright revolution. That and, of course, a new war
in a faraway place.
It’s been another 40 years. Again, the greed of the rich has
concentrated wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer. They’ve grabbed
most of the property. They’ve emptied massive pension funds and are
moving to deplete Social Security itself. They never seem to learn.
Or reach satiation. They’ve robbed entire nations of their natural
resources and used their populations as slave labor. And they have a
new, open-ended war created by their greed. The pot … she is
“Buddy, can you spare a dime?” —