“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Note from LI

Well, we’ve been doing this for two and a half years. As our faithful readers know (LI has bitched often and loud enough that they ought to know), LI has been luxuriating in the character stiffening circumstances of the Bush recession, like a man falling downstairs on his ass who pretends it is a cheap form of chiropractery. Another tough month is upon us. As we were walking home with our groceries – you know, the Fosters and the salami – we figured, why not beg a little. No doubt, too, we’ve been influenced by a scarifying book that we are reviewing for the Austin Chronicle, The Working Poor, by David Shipler. It is a work of journalist ethnography concerning the forty to sixty million Americans who make enough money not to be considered poor, but too little money not to be considered credit risks. Shiplen went around, talking to these people. The authorial persona was sometimes condescending, but mostly pretty on top of things. For instance, he notices the way all Americans have seemingly acceded to the idea of the sacredness of businesses. He tells one of those humdrum horror stories about a woman whose 14 year old semi-retarded daughter unthinkingly confided that she was afraid when he Mom left for the late shift. Of course, her Mom has no options – there’s no welfare system that is going to support her – but the government, in the form of the principal of the school, felt bound to report abuse, or potential abuse, and so the state contemplated taking the child. The process involved consulting psychologists, driving the working mother almost crazy, and pushing for her to get another job – but nobody from this group called her factory to ask that she be put on the day shift. Nobody. I mean, one can’t interfere with the perfect working of the mysteries of capital, even as the state gets out its needle nosed pliers to pluck apart the innards of its poorest citizens.

And so it goes. The 40 hour a week, the 6.50 an hour divorcee clerk. The roofer supporting the three kids and the bedridden wife. Etc., etc.

So many anecdotes, and all of them went straight through the LI heart. The incorrigible unforesightedness of the working poor, the desire to fit in the system, to pay off debts, to be normal, to have the phone company not add that extra late fee, to have the cable and (criminal luxury!) dentistry – all of those virtues that lock you into poverty. All of the virtues whose systematic violation by the CEOs of even the most penny-ante of the Fortune 500 has become routine. An obsolescence that signals that the bourgeois ethical code is now, like something given away to Goodwill, yesterday’s fashion.

So that is what this post is about. Those of you who come here often enough, and like to come here (and from whom I haven’t already borrowed money that I can never pay back – that party can send me shaming emails) should consider sending us some of the ready as a sort of end of the year gift. And it isn’t tax deductible, either. We are talking 1 to 10 bucks --- nothing higher, and no pennies please – we detest pennies. They are always falling out of the LI pocket. We look around LI HQ, and there’s always some damn penny on the floor.

If you feel like it, then, here’s where you should send the lucre: Roger Gathman, 615 Upson, #203 Austin Texas 78703.

If you don’t feel like it, buy yourself a vodka martini on us.

Oh, and apologies to D. – he hates these kinds of posts. D. thinks I ought to have some sense of dignity.
And he’s known me, what, for twenty years?

No comments: