Sunday, September 04, 2011

Here's Tea In Your Eye

(originally published at OpEdNews)

Once again, I’ve indirectly been accused of hating America. My ilk was included in the accusation. I can’t control my ilk, but I sure as hell don’t hate America. Those making such accusations don’t know what the hell America is.

I’ve been asked what’s better than capitalism, if capitalism is so bad? I’ve been asked if I know from experience of any other nation in which there is so much freedom. “What works better than our form of government?” Finally, and I thought that this wasn’t used anymore, it’s been suggested if I find a better place in which to live with more democracy and more freedom, I should move there.

Much to the chagrin of those who want to shrink government small enough to just be able to “fit in your bedroom”, a wonderful line once used in the concluded TV series The West Wing, the government of The FUSA utilizes capitalism and socialism.

I worked for a Fortune 500 global mega-corporation for 25 years. I started as a lowly operating technician back in 1972 and became an Operations Supervisor in 1988. As an Operations Supervisor, I was on the team that did the hiring for the plant site at which I worked.

Before I go into the specifics of that hiring process, I remember that, when affirmative action was introduced in the 60s and busing was initiated to basically force Caucasians and African Americans to look at each other as human beings, news reports showed White people shouting “Go back to Africa!” to the Black students getting off the school busses. Obviously, these people never learned that most of the ancestors of those Black people didn’t choose to come to America. Ignorance isn’t only bliss, it’s hatred as well.    
I can remember another unbelievable scene during which Caucasians were yelling, “Go back to Africa!” to Black people. In the fall of 1962, President Kennedy ordered 3,000 federal troops to escort James Meredith to school. Meredith had been trying to attend The University of Mississippi for some time. He was twice denied entrance, simply because he was African American. Once again, the government, who cannot, I admit, legislate morality, at least forced a majority of human beings to allow another human being to attend college.

In 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Caucasian bus driver James Blake noticed the unthinkable. White men were standing while an arrogant young Black woman had the gall to remain seated. It took until 1955, almost one hundred years after the enslaving of African Americans became illegal, for an honest to goodness on the books law be to enacted behind which White people like Blake cowered. Who ultimately supported Rosa Parks? The court system of the United States of America, a branch of the US government. I suspect that today’s teabagger fearing SCOTUS would have ruled in favor of Mr. Crowe. Strangely enough, Clarence Thomas would very likely have given into Mr. Crowe. There are some things that I shall never understand.

Africans were inhumanely and savagely stuffed into vessels and forced to “emigrate” to this continent starting in 1619. 1619! Descendents of Africans lived on this land for 336 years before the government of the United States of America insisted that they be treated like the human beings that they are. Although the government was slow, in the end, after protests and demonstrations, aided by an almost truly free press, the unconscionable treatment of a large segment of American society was brought to the attention of the American public.

336 years later, a woman was finally able to remain in a seat on a bus.

It took 343 years for descendents of African “immigrants” to be able to attend the public school of their choosing.

It took 346 years for Blacks to gain the unfettered right to vote in the United States. The right was gained by the 1965 Civil Rights Act, an act of the government of The United States. Today, agents of the private sector, which include the knee jerking teabaggers, want that Act overturned.

Africans weren’t here as slaves in 1492. Women were here, though. It took women 428 years to gain the right to vote. Again, it was a law, an amendment to The Constitution of The United States of America passed by the US government that forced those who didn’t believe women had enough intelligence to vote to stand aside and let women vote.

What kind of Constitutional amendments do teabaggers what to see passed? They want the sixteenth amendment overturned. The sixteenth amendment helps keep our nation strong by levying an income tax. They’ve also got their eyes on the seventeenth amendment, which allows US senators to be elected directly by the people. Apparently this is too much freedom for some teabaggers who would overturn the seventeenth amendment so that state legislatures would appoint US senators.

It took a miniscule 284 years for white, land owning males to gain all of the above rights and the only criteria for that to happen was the birth of a nation.

The detour I just took is relevant to the first experience I had as a member of the hiring team at the plant site for which I worked. Shortly after I became an Operations Supervisor, the hiring team met. I showed up a little late for that meeting. I walked into the conference room. There was grumbling.

The Operations Supervisors of the other two production plants on site, as well as the equivalent manager in the maintenance department and the Human Resources manager, all white men, were bitching because the Plant Manager, another Caucasian male, said we were being “forced” to hire Blacks, but they didn’t refer to them as Blacks (I’m merely reporting what I witnessed). They referred to them as “niggers” so that they could ensure one another that they were all on the same level and that level was higher, for some reason, than the “niggers” that they were about to interview.

We were also being asked to consider Hispanics. They referred to the Hispanics as spics. One member of the hiring team referred to the Hispanics as “gibbering idiots”.

Finally, we were being “forced” to give women a chance to show that they could do jobs previously done by men only. They referred to women as “god damned split-tails”.

For those of us who either thought or still think that name calling is the enterprise of second grade children, this exhibition of the scholarly use of the English language did/would change your mind instantly. The voice inflection was reminiscent of the sounds that would have been made by those very same second graders if recess had been cancelled for the day.

For me, this was a surreal moment. I had no idea that, in 1988, this was still going on. Not only was it still happening, but it was happening in the open, in the official conference room where a hiring team for one of the largest manufacturing corporations was meeting. It may not have been captured in the minutes of the meeting, but it was every bit a part of that meeting.

Sometime after that meeting, I rewarded a Black pipefitter with small bonus for going “above and beyond” to get the plant in which I was a supervisor up and running under an emergency situation. An hour later, my telephone rang. It was the maintenance supervisor. He asked, “What are you, Mike, some kind of nigger-lover?”

This was in the “blue”, liberal state of Connecticut.

This happened 33 years after Black Americans were legally allowed to sit in any seat on any public transport system in any state, 26 years after Black Americans were legally allowed to attend any public school in any state and 23 years after the government of the US finally got serious about outlawing the games that were being played in parts of the nation to keep African Americans away from the polls. I look back today and see future teabagger recruits.

We’re having work done in our home. A contractor looked the job over last week so that he could give us an estimate. He said he’d get back to us. He said he’d bring his partner next time. He said, “Don’t worry, my partner’s White.”

This is in the “blue” liberal state of California. I’m not sure if the man was “assuring” us that his partner wasn’t African American or Hispanic, but does it matter?

Though it should be obvious that the above examples of prejudice are wrong, I fear that those examples aren’t as isolated and unusual as they should be in 2011. In fact, as much as so called conservatives hated Bill Clinton, there were no large, nationally televised teabagger protests during his administration.

One might conclude that the above examples present proof that the laws that were passed by the government didn’t work. One might say that all people should be given an equal chance to succeed, but not all people who are in the position to help people succeed should be required to do so. The government mustn’t discriminate in favor of or against people based upon the color of their skin, their gender, their ethnicity or other personal characteristics, according to some teabaggers, but the government shouldn’t interfere with a business owner if that business owner doesn’t like those who are adorned in black or brown skin.

This is the private sector that so many teabaggers, not the least of whom is the Paul family, claim would be all too happy to be self regulating. Employers in the private sector range form multinational, Fortune 500 mega-corporations to local small contractors.

The small contractor will obviously never hire non whites.

The corporation mentioned several times herein may never have hired African Americans, Hispanics or women if it wasn’t for previous laws passed by the federal government. If a teabagger asks why the government of The FUSA is so “large and bureaucratic”, that teabagger needs to be reminded that the federal government needs resources to do what the private sector won’t do unless it’s forced and what the states are too chicken shit to do.

Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice would never have become Secretary of State if the government hadn’t previously passed certain laws.

The private sector is now running the country. I call it The Corporacracy, although the word Corporatocracy is used more frequently. I’ve been calling it The Corporacracy for quite some time.

The federal minimum wage was $5.15 per hour in the United States until Congress raised it to $5.85 in 2007, $6.55 in 2008 and to $7.25 in 2009, where in now stands.

The Chief Executive Officer of the corporation for which I worked was compensated with $21,337,757 last year. In comparison, the $7.25 an hour minimum wage equals a yearly salary of $15080 which is $6970 below the poverty line and 7/10,000 of the CEOs compensation. This should make the teabaggers happy. There are plenty of Americans there that aren’t being protected.

“Get up off your ass and get a job” won’t cut it today nor did it ever cut it. In the 235 years of this nation’s existence, it’s been only during a relatively short time that employment was such that all people had to do was to “get up off their asses and get a job”. I refer to White people here since, as recently as 1988, a multinational Fortune 500 mega-corporation complained about hiring Black folks, Hispanics or women.

I’ve lived under a better government than this. That government was right here in The Former United States of America. It wasn’t a democratically elected Socialist government that would make equality a meaningful word in this country. It was, however, a government that didn’t mind governing, at least a little bit.

Unfortunately, it liked to govern so much that it tried governing Vietnam.

Unlike the clueless teabaggers, I want a government that governs. If I have to be taxed to help the less fortunate, so be it. The private sector would let those who they don’t hire begin relying on “churches” to keep them alive. If you believe, you get a reprieve.

I want a government that recognizes greed when it sees it and controls it to the best of its ability. It can’t cure the illness, but it can control the consequences. I also want a government that isn’t, itself, afflicted with the disease.

I want a government that’s ready to defend this nation, but keeps the troops home when this nation is not under attack. If this nation is under attack, I want a government that fights those who are attacking us and no one else. Most governments don’t go around putting out fires that don’t exist.

Controlling greed and ending war and poverty are not mutually exclusive. For those who are teabaggers because they’re so enamored of The Constitution, I think that those things fall comfortably under Preamble, the reason why, The Constitution was written:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

To friendship,

“Before a war military science seems a real science, like astronomy; but after a war it seems more like astrology.” - Rebecca West

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