Growing up in the Reaganeighties, there was so much bullshit propaganda on the dangers of the Soviet Union and the threat of communism and a global nuclear war, it was maddening. It’s coming up on the 30th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union this month. Maybe it was because I was only 13 but watching the Soviet Union fall didn’t really have that much of an effect on me. The question a lot were asking is what are we going to do now?
Well, as George Carlin said, it was time to go play with our toys in the sand. The Cold War in this country built the military industrial complex, so it was only natural we would start two wars in the Middle-East. The end of the Cold War also allow state and federal governments to pass legislation that would tighten the grasp around people now that boogeyman had been defeated.
I haven’t watched the Impeachment series about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, but President Clinton’s biggest crime wasn’t lying about having sexual relations with Lewinsky. It was playing ball with Newt Gingrich and other Republicans to make America more of a police state.
Almost over night, three strikes and you’re out became part of our judicial system. Mandatory minimums threw people in prison for minor offense. After he died, John Ehrlichman, who served under Richard Nixon, said Nixon used cannabis to target African-Americans. Reagan upped the ante with crack cocaine, even though it’s the same substance as cocaine. Wall Street yuppies did cocaine and got slaps on the wrist. Clinton could’ve stopped all that, but he decided it was best to put people behind bars too. And yes, Joe Biden was also part of that.
Biden is no saint and angel by any means, but I feel that over the past 30 years, he’s changed for the better. If Saul could murder people and do bad things only to be blinded on the road to Damascus and reborn as Paul, why can’t the same apply to everyone else?
In all honesty, America over the last 30 years became exactly what the Soviet Union became. I know I’ve done something like this before. But I think it needs repeating. Law enforcement became more militarized. Police are required to write more tickets and citations. It became a sales job more or less. You’re not just getting stopped for a tail lamp you have out but reckless driving or inefficient vehicle.
And municipalities start outsourcing or allowing private entities to handle ticket citations, for a good fee. So, people with clean records are constantly having to pay more for having a tail lamp out. And warrants can be issued for their arrest if the fees are not paid in a timely fashion, for a tail lamp.
We incarcerate more people in this country than other republics. The Second Amendment is really only a suggestive tool depending on whom law enforcement feels it should apply. Even here in Oklahoma, like many other state with permitless carry, if they want to charge you with having a gun, they can. Philando Castile lost his life over it. And he had a permit. Yet Kyle Rittenhouse had just killed two people and no one bothered him even as he walked past police.
It wasn’t the collapse of the Soviet Union that caused me to realize that capitalism was bad. It was working for a living. They say, everyone is a liberal until they decide they have to pay taxes. That’s what separates the true liberals from the conservatives. Well, working in a racist jerkwater area like Americus, Ga., made me realize that people still were using the plantation riches of their ancestors as clout.
Naturally, I didn’t last long there. I was there for 14 months. After I submitted my resignation for being read the riot act for taking my third sick day in a 14-month period, I was talking to a co-worker who was a single parent. I mentioned what I made which was $9.13 an hour and she a made a face that said, “That’s all?” I had worked there three months longer than her and did more of the workload, but I knew she was making more.
What really sold it was when I went to work at Dollar Thrifty call center as a last ditch effort to find work after not being able to get any journalism jobs after moving to Oklahoma. It took me at least two attempts to get hired at the call center in Tahlequah. I don’t know what I fucked up on the previous two, but I think I was over-qualified. The people they were hiring weren’t the brightest. Maybe that’s why they needed them the most to deal with the abusive supervisors and callers.
There was one supervisor, a woman, who treated everyone as if we were in third grade. There was another supervisor in his early to mid-20s who definitely was on an ego trip. I would equate him to Buzz in Home Alone but cranked up the asshole factor to the nth degree. He would insult people left and right. Why he never got the shit knocked out of him is a surprise. I guess going to jail for assault wasn’t worth it, but it was tempting.
The customers were far worse. Anyone with access to a credit card, and even those who didn’t have credit cards, felt they had every right to dictate to us how to do our jobs. They were renting a $20,000 vehicle. They weren’t going to take it just for a set of shower curtain rings. You want to rent a sports car in a tropical tourist town, you need to pony up the cash.
As for the money, it seemed appealing. The more cars we rented, the more money we got. But they set it up for some of us to fail. If you didn’t rent so many vehicles, you were put on a line that handled just basic questions. You could work an 7-8 hour shift and only rent one, or none, in one hour. The less cars you rented, the worse on the line you were placed.
Also, if you somehow got some caller who wanted to rent many cars, you were still being hurt. I had a guy who was on the road a lot for business and he wanted to set up the reservations well in advance. I think I set up 10 reservations for several months on just one phone call. I still didn’t get as much money as someone else who had many 10 reservations. Everything worked against you.
And worse, Dollar Thrifty didn’t really give a shit about their customers. I had a few people call angrily because the other representatives had set up the wrong times, dates and/or locations for them just to get them off the line faster. Also, if someone was having trouble and needed your help, they needed to get off your line in three minutes. I was on a phone call for six minutes trying to help a customer. I got in trouble.
So, thankfully, after I was transferred to the Tulsa location, I got very sick and had to quit the job. I thought I might move up corporate with my degree, but while the Tulsa location had nicer people, it was the same mess on the phone lines. They also screwed me out of a bonus during a sales promotion and didn’t adjust my pay increase for several periods, no matter how many times I informed them. So, it was a surprise to get an extra paycheck with the extra money in the mail after I quit.
But at 27, I was fed up with the system. I had gone to college in Georgia on the HOPE scholarship which took care of my tuition. I worked two part-time jobs. I got out in four years. I should’ve had a bigger job and salary, but that wasn’t the case. It was all bullshit.
And social media didn’t help. I stayed away as much as I could but the temptation was too much. It seemed that social media only mattered to those were were bigwigs. It seemed almost everyone I knew had nice vacation homes or spent their evenings and weekends out on the town. Something wasn’t right.
In 2014, I walked away from a job as a news editor at a newspaper, despite winning many awards. Even with bonuses, I never made more than $30,000 a year. I wasn’t going to put up with it more. There were also some things going in my personal life that added to the decision that it wasn’t worth it anymore. If you really want to know why print journalism is dying it’s because publishers are asking their advertisers to pay more for less. And when people stop advertising, newspapers start folding. But this is something for another post.
But I came to the realization in my 30s that they needed to have those things. Who knew what shit they may have gone through? I’m not going to be some asshole wagging my finger at them for enjoying their weekends or vacations. The people who really got under my skin I just unfriended or unfollowed. It wasn’t worth it. To them, struggling meant something totally different.
So, here I am, almost middle-aged and I’ve become more liberal every day. I’m so waiting for the fall of capitalism in this country. I don’t want younger people to go through what I did. Some are facing worse obstacles and they have degrees that are supposed to guarantee them more than what I ever made.
It’s only a matter of time that the Great Resignation or Great Reshuffling or whatever they call it was going to happened. It should have happened 10 years ago after the financial crisis but it took America really seeing what a piece of shit Trump was for it to happen. And Boomers are dying off. They’re his bread and butter. By 2024, voters in their early 30s will have lived in a post-Cold War world. Trying to tell them communism or socialism is bad isn’t exactly going to change their minds.
I bumped into an older woman several months ago. She showed me this printed copy of what looked like an e-mail she gotten and all I saw was Hillary Clinton. Maybe she thought since I have grey hairs I’m older, but I immediately shut her down and said, I’m a socialist. And in a snarky tone, she said, that it seems it’s becoming that. I said as I walked away, “Well, what we thought was working hasn’t been working.”
But it’s been working the way it’s intended. Capitalism is supposed to separate classes, genders and races. We only heard about socialism being a threat when President Barack Obama was elected. Now that Vice-President Kamala Harris is one heartbeat away from the Presidency, the socialism boogeyman was been awaken again. I wonder why.
They say insanity is the process of doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. That to me sounds like capitalism. You can’t keep squeezing people over and over and expecting them to give out more money. Newspapers and magazines folded because advertisers realized they weren’t the only two options.
Another option is on the table. And the people who are coming into power over the next 10-20 years view it as the better option.