I’ve been re-reading some history recently. In this case, it’s American history but I keep reflecting on the fact that some history just repeats itself, over and over, without regard to time or location. One of the most important takeaways I’ve come to on this round is that nearly every social problem this country faces could be solved by requiring a living wage. I can imagine the push-back on a declaration like that, all of it the contrived and false arguments of the wage pirates.
Jeff Bezos has been in the news quite a bit recently. One of the things that stuck in my mind is the comment in his response to the attempted blackmail that he started Amazon in his garage and drove the packages to the post office himself. Uh-huh. It’s one of the more common stories the wage pirates tell, how they succeeded with hard work and “pluck” – whatever the fuck that means. It seems they ALL start in the garage or on the kitchen table.
Bezos didn’t become the richest man in history by driving packages to the Post Office himself. He became the richest man in history by over working and underpaying hundreds of thousands of employees. Microsoft held the position of richest company in the world for awhile. They got there by committing crimes. They’ve been convicted of various anti-competitive business schemes so many times, I lost count years ago. Apple? Oh, the vaunted Apple. Chinese workers held in compounds at near slave wages build the phones while Apple charges premium prices. Wage piracy.
The Kennedy fortune was reportedly built on bootlegging during Prohibition. The official family story is Grandma Kennedy working doggedly in her dry cleaning store. The Bush fortune was built selling weapons and poison gas to the Nazis during WWII. (Not speculation. The company was convicted.) Even the Drumpf fortune was reportedly built on prostitution. I’m actually a proponent of legalized prostitution but back in those days, the most common way to acquire the “girls” was to kidnap them. Human trafficking.
I’ve long held that the people who rise to the top of the economic pile tend to be the people most willing to do whatever is necessary, ethics be damned. Invariably, these people are NOT the “best and the brightest.” They tend to be the LEAST among us. You, too, can succeed, son, if you’re willing to kill grandma and your grandchildren. I know, hyperbole, right? Consider this; Prescott Bush sold weapons to the Nazis during WWII. George H. W. Bush (41) was a pilot during the war. His plane was shot down. WAS 41’s plane shot down with ordinance sold to the Nazis by Prescott? Who can say? But it’s possible. Whether it was or not, Prescott was willing to risk George H.W. for a dollar. THAT’S the “glorious truth” of the people who rise to those positions.
History is littered with these bottom-feeders, willing to do anything, to anyone, for a buck – so long as nobody tries to do the same to them. For me, the American Civil War sums it up, nicely. The South was willing to fight a war (okay, send poor people to fight a war) because the North was trying to forcibly take away their right to forcibly take away the rights of other human beings. That kind of convoluted thinking is still out there. There are still plenty of people who would utilize slavery if they could get away with it, today, but since they can’t, they’ve carved out a multitude of alternatives that get as close as possible.
I’ll tell you this: it’s time to stop assuming these people – given the chance – will do the right thing. History proves they won’t. Your best bet is assuming they’ll do the wrong thing – the worst things. It’s time to stop treating these people as anything other than the thieves they are…