Hillary Clinton, perplexed with news she was tied in recent polling with Donald Trump, lamented that she should be ahead by 50 points. This comical bit of hubris embodies perfectly the degree to which elites are disconnected from the American psyche. This disassociation is mirrored in the media, who initially scoffed, and remain befuddled, at the success of the Trump campaign. They flail away, pointing their fingers this way and that, looking for someone, anyone to blame: Fox News echo-chamber, dog-whistling politicians, racist rednecks, lefty-journos and Bernie Sanders for revealing Hillary’s flaws, Jill Stein for existing, those darned Millennials for not falling in line like they should… anyone but Hillary Clinton.
People like David Brooks & Paul Krugman, Brian Williams & Geraldo Rivera, Mitch McConnell & Nancy Pelosi frequent the same fine dining establishments. They share elevator rides and their young attend the same private schools. They pat each others’ backs & chortle away over vichyssoise & beaujolais. Merrily, life is but a dream. The only regular people they deal with on a daily basis are low-wage workers who chuckle & grimace their way through awkward encounters.
We grew up being sold an American Dream that meant we could have a picket fence, send our kids to cheap college, and retire in comfort -provided we put in the effort. We may not know the hows or whys, but we know that the American Dream is now a fantasy. We’ been beaten down and squeezed to the point of bursting. Yet the elites in their ivory towers remain blind to our frustration and the extent of our outrage at them for embezzling our nation’s wealth while feigning oblivion. Hillary Clinton represents, more than anything else, the status quo (and corruption and opacity and entitlement and…). While Donald Trump may be a bigoted buffoon, he’s anything but status quo. He is – as was Brexit – Do I have your attention now?!?
So yeah, the deficit has been halved under Obama. The unemployment rate, too. And the stock market has doubled. Wage growth last year was unseen in half a century. But following 40 years of wage stagnation; following the Great Recession and a recovery that has only reached the upper earners – we remain unswayed by abstract numbers which do not equate to our day-to-day experience.
We deal with Comcast on a daily basis, which raises rates 5%/yr on average. Poor folk like me invest upward of 20hr/yr on the phone with customer service & the loyalty department threatening disconnect unless promotional rates are applied. They take notes and make promises that the next agent somehow has no record of. They lie and obfuscate – anything to get you off the phone. We have to pay for a hundred channels when we only watch ten. Music Television doesn’t play music. The History Channel doesn’t show history. I never actually get the download speeds the tests show I should. The wireless connection is constantly interrupted. Thanks to government deregulation and lax oversight, they enjoy an effective monopoly with little incentive to improve service (let alone customer service). It used to be illegal to own a news paper and a television station in the same market. Thanks to the Telecommunications Act (Bill Clinton), 90% of all US media is owned by six (6!) companies who control the narrative and feed us lies. I hate corporate media. I hate Comcast.
I hate the phone company. Like the cable company, I never get the data speeds I’m supposed and my device perpetually loses connectivity. On top of insanely expensive smart phones, the monthly rate is ridiculous. Again, there are only a few phone companies, so they can easily collude to keep prices high while providing terrible service. And they’re quick to hand over our phone records to the government without warrant. The marionettes pulling the strings of our spineless politicians won’t spend the money to bury the power lines, let alone fiber optic internet so we don’t have to worry about roaming charges, identifying wi-fi passwords, or searching for faint signals from unsightly cell phone towers.
I hate the grocery store. Soda is cheap but dairy products and meat is expensive. They pump the animals full of antibiotics for more product, leaving us susceptible to disease. We spray pesticides that kill the bees. Our method of commercial farming kills the soil. We have ag-gag laws which make it a criminal offense to record our mistreatment of animals. They are fed corn & soy since that is what is subsidized by the government (ie cheapest). As such, high-fructose corn syrup is in everything we eat, from ketchup to white bread. The labels on our food don’t mean anything. Half the seafood pulled from our polluted waters is mislabeled. Words like natural and organic have little meaning. Expiration dates are meant to trick us into throwing things away early and buying new. We’ve been convinced that GMOs are the devil, but they won’t put those on the labels.
I hate going to the doctor. It takes forever to be seen. Might be out of network. Insurance company got plenty money for ads but they’ll find an excuse not to cover the cost of my medical expenses. The hospital charges a whole box for a single tissue, but I never read the bill since the insurance covered it. Martin Shkreli and the jerks who jacked-up the price of Epi-Pens are price-gouging us. US Patents keep poor people from accessing relatively cheap generic drugs. It’s illegal to bring cheap prescription drugs from Canada or Mexico. Big Pharma bribes politicians to keep a prohibition on natural remedies. The government (Medicare, Medicaid…) isn’t allowed to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for cheaper prescription drug prices. Big Pharma pays millions for ads telling us to beg our doctor for drugs we don’t need. They bribe doctors to prescribe drugs off-label. We get addicted to pain meds and wind up addicted to heroin when the insurance runs out. We turn our kids into drugged-out zombies. We got granddads walking around with drug-induced stiffies. We pay twice what our EU allies pay for healthcare, which is not guaranteed, and the debt for which you cannot personally go bankrupt.
I hate college. Tuition keep rising & rising while state governments keep cutting funds for state schools. Books are crazy expensive. I can get loans, but the cost is so prohibitive I’ll be paying for decades. Those monies could be going toward a car or a house, instead they fund new buildings and stadiums since universities are non-profits. And like healthcare costs, I can’t be unburdened of the debt through bankruptcy.
I hate the gas station. The price is based upon the whims of oil speculators, stock market fluctuations, and the dictators controlling OPEC. We’ve been subsidizing oil companies for a century. We’ve been at war in the Middle East for decades to keep the Strait of Hormuz running smoothly. We’re killing ourselves with carbon emissions, despite having electric cars around for a century. Tesla sells electric cars, but owners of dealerships selling competing brands of vehicles bribed politicians in states like Texas & New Jersey to ban Tesla’s business model of direct sales to consumers. Because free market. We could have high speed trains like Japan, but we barely fund our shoddy public transportation since poor people use it.
Perhaps most of all, I hate the bank. Swipe or insert? We’re going through this clunky transition, but without requiring a PIN our system still won’t be as secure as our EU allies. They got fees for every little thing: too few transactions or too low an average daily balance. They charge us fees just to access to our own money. They hold onto our money for us day after day, but the second we overcharge by a few bucks they tax us to death. I’ve had bad experiences that led me to close accounts with every bank I’ve ever used. Heritage Bank turned a $200 bounced check into a -$1800 balance. Key Bank turned my balance into a debt with fees when I was away at Basic. Wells Fargo put a 15-day hold on my payroll check (which I cashed there every two weeks) because it “looked washed.” America’s Credit Union emptied my checking account, then savings, then closed them both because I left them idle for 180 days. Chase Bank charged me monthly fees when I switched jobs and direct deposit hadn’t yet kicked in. Key Bank (yes, again) would only give me $100 of my paycheck for the weekend…
That’s just my personal experience. Instead of pensions, we have 401(k)s which are nickel-and-dimed with fees and subject to market fluctuations. We all saw the banks bring the entire world economy to its knees with their irresponsible, brazen, and fraudulent behavior. They practiced predatory lending, then sold bad, bundled loans as gold and bet against the market. Our homes lost their value and were foreclosed by banks. And instead of rescuing the economy by making home-owners whole, we bailed out Wall Street. Instead of locking Jamie Dimon in jail, he is paraded before a congress eager to provide a verbal fellating. The LIBOR scandal showed financial institutions were manipulating the entire world’s interest rates – and no one went to jail. HSBC was caught knowingly laundering hundreds of millions in cartel drug money – no one went to jail. Wells Fargo executives wanted to brag about sales figures so they pressured low-wage sales people into using the identities of their customers to set up fake accounts. Employees who complained of the practice were fired. Those who did as they were told were eventually scapegoated and fired. The CEO and the shareholders and the executives made their millions. No one went to jail. If the institution is fined, it will be a pittance relative to their quarterly profits, and since they write half of the fine off in taxes the rest of us pay for their criminal activity on both ends.
And as anyone who has been employed by the corporation surely knows – I hate my job. After three years at my first job I was fired, not for anything in particular, but because they were “sick of dealing with me.” I was fired from a job on my second anniversary with a store, for stealing a shirt that had been in the lost & found for weeks. I was two minutes late, was later sick on both Tuesday & Wednesday, and was fired since those consecutive work days fell on separate work weeks. I was once fired a week into an entry-level job for not having enough experience. I was once fired from a bar because two people I didn’t even know got into a fight when I wasn’t even there. I was once fired before I even started because my credit score was too low. I was once let go for breaking my finger at work. I’ve quit jobs over verbally abusive, and inept, management, over a lack of hours, over being transferred, over nearly severing my Achilles the first day…
We hate jobs that don’t pay enough to afford the rent. We hate jobs that won’t give us enough hours, or doesn’t give raises, or doesn’t tell you when you work until the last minute. We hate jobs that pay via prepaid debit cards. We hate nonsensical dress-codes and grooming standards that customers could care less about. We hate promotions with minuscule raises.
We hate cubicles. We hate meetings. We hate after-work emails.
We hate the corporation. We hate the establishment. We hate the status quo. We hate bureaucracy. We hate crony capitalism & revolving doors. We hate congress. We hate both Democrats and Republicans. We hate the fascistic shyster who plays footsie white supremacists. We hate the neoliberal who touts the endorsements of war criminals, Jeb! donors, and cross-party establishmentarians.
Despite all they’ve done to our great nation – yet and still – the elites looking down their noses at us rabble wonder why it is that they are so widely despised.