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Thursday, March 14, 2019

parables for dummies: recent american history


Everything in the newspapers for the last year, or decade, or two decades, has been like a course in parables for dummies. And the beat goes on. So yesterday, a rich actress gets caught in a scheme to get her daughter into USC not through the old fashioned cheating way – donating to USC massively – but through the cheap way, faking her rowing credentials and bribing rowing coaches there to the tune of 500,000 smackers. Attention turned to the daughter, who is labeled – universally – a teen influencer. She runs an Instagram account among other things where she commoditizes every stubbed toe – bandaids from @amazon! She is outspoken on her account, writing things like:  “I don’t know how much of school I’m going to attend … I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”
A prize student like that gets the extra treatment. On the day the Feds pulled the plug on her mom, she was off vacationing on the yacht of a billionaire named Rick Caruso – who just happens to be on the USC Board of Trustees.

The parable – about what it is like in Plutocratic America – isn’t finished yet. Because the case has drawn attention to the Tanya McDowell case. Don’t wonder what show she was starring in – she wasn’t! She was homeless, she is African-American, and she had the audacity to lie about her address so her son could attend a good public school in Norwalk. All such things done by the homeless, or by people whose incomes are below the 20,000 level, are a great chance to keep our prison industrial complex going. McDowell was sentenced to five years in prison for “stealing” 15,000 dollars – from the good white people of Norwalk – and because, as a homeless woman, she sold some drugs to an undercover cop, they got her for that too. Cleaning the streets of these people. So in the great hall of justice, they decided, with a mercy that just makes me want to cry American pie, that the five years for defrauding Norwalk would run concurrently with the drug sentence. Here’s a nice tweet summing up the case. https://twitter.com/TalbertSwan/status/1105840732852629505

A parable is supposed to be wrapped around an enigma, and these newspapers ones are, too. The enigma is how did the U.S. get so mean? So meanspirited? So servile? I can’t blame the Tanya McDowells, or really anybody in the lower 80 percent, since that percentage of the population is so beaten by debt and riled up by entertainment news and so discombobulated by a social geography that keeps it on the road for hours per day that I don’t expect a revolution. But is there a moment when the meanness overflows? When it pops? Is there a moment when people remember, distantly, when monetizing your every move as a teen influencer was not something to be proud of, but rather, a shameful matter, classified under the Gospel’s “selling your soul for a piece of gold”?

We eat it and we eat it and we eat it and there won’t be any left, you know. The day is coming and it won’t be long. And this is how we live.


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