Friday, April 18, 2008

Elitists and Clinging, C'mon

Some things accuracy get very mangled in translation from brains to mouth to media to public, and I'd like to address what I see as real and not who said what. There is a part of America that has not only not done well over the last 20 years it has been trampled. There is the very simple matter that economic forces trump hard work and a large number of hard workers have been very trumped. The economic forces that have kicked the blue collar worker so hard are out of those workers' reach and control. This is important, these folks get up and go to work and work hard and that's what they have control over. For the most part they go to work just to underpaid and devalued by a large number of people and they know it. They can see who thrives while they do not and they have no say in the matter.

In any one's life there are pieces of it that they do have control over and most of us know exactly what they are - we can choose to ignore it. The list contains some things that have recently been in the news, religion, guns, regard of others. These things are seen as being in personal control, no one is allowed to interfere in your choice of religion, the government cannot do anything about your...Catholicism or... No matter what forces are at work that choice remains personal and there are prerogatives that go with it. Your religion gives you a moral standing (that includes lack of religion), an ethical validation and an importance in the scheme of things. Your economic standing may be going in the toilet but you have shown an ability bring to bear influence in that regard with the powerful. The actuality of that influence could be debated, but it is perceived to exist and that is the issue. Contrasting personal helplessness in economics with apparent influence increases the import of exercising that influence, success validates it.

Firearms and the Second Amendment have bit more mixed issue of control. You choose to buy the firearm you choose, an issue of personal control. The outcomes of ownership are in your control, hunting an animal, putting a hole in a target, or defense of your self are all matters pertaining to control of one's own life. Finally there is an issue that surpasses in some regard control, an issue of equal standing - I am an armed citizen, your equal and a dangerous force in the face of your advantages. It is the ultimate enforcer of rights. A firearm becomes a concrete symbol of equality, unlike the words of law it can be touched, it has weight, and it stands ready at choice.

Questions of 'otherness' can vary by regions but there is good evidence that it is strongly linked to economics. People who find themselves in competition with some one new tend to be displeased. If you add economic suffering into that equation the blame tends to fall on the most handy and concrete example. Many groups have suffered from such displeasure over our history and common language and skin color were no bars to it, though obvious differences make that differentiation easier. If an unfair advantage is seen to be conferred on the 'other' the displeasure is increased. If a fall in wages or an increase in difficulty in obtaining a job can be attributed to the other, an explosive mixture is created.

It is important to note that increases in stress on any group with little power exacerbates these tendencies. The sense of powerlessness and disregard bring people together in groups to face down specific issues or support specific causes. Increased pressure on gun owners, both economically and legally brings them together in support of their piece of the puzzle. They will disregard other factors to protect their interest, whether Republicans have any of their interests at heart, promising to leave guns alone will suffice. Practicing the politics of division works to win elections, it also works to leave the very people we are discussing unprotected and more distressed. It could easily be a method of perpetuating the very issues that so stress the bottom half of the economy. Now that might be an interesting concept, divide and conquer?

1 comment:

KISS said...

Depending on your perception the Great Depression was from 1929, the stock market crash, till 1941, the beginning of World War One. What is so puzzling to me is that the average person never blamed the government or big business. Yes, there were little knots of Communist and front groups but a very small minority at that. Most Americans allowed it was somehow their fault to be unemployed or not able to sustain a family life of a normal standard. In other words no thought of revolution, except in the minds of those with wealth who slept very badly at night. I do believe that Roosevelt was offered dictatorship of America with an army supplied by the wealth class. Not much in history texts on this but I have read from accounts I find truthful that this did exist. With communication as the Internet, docility would not be the rule today. I suppose this obeisance would not be repeated as in the 1930's, at least I hope not.