Once I built a railroad, I made it run
Made it race against time
Once I built a railroad, now it's done
Brother, can you spare a dime?
Shades of the thirties!!!
In the 1960's, I studied voice at the Beverly Hills Academy. More specifically, I studied Opera under the guidance of Leon (Lee) Wintner, formerly of the Met. Lee was a self-professing Communist who told me of many strikes, marches and demonstrations he was a part of during the Depression. These took place largely in New York and they scared the BeeJesus out of FDR who promptly came up with all kinds of programs to defuse the situation. The Government even sponsored play-writing classes under the FTP* that produced such notables as Ben Hecht, Arthur Miller, Orson Welles, John Houseman, and Elia Kazan among others.
The Occupy Wall Street Demonstrations remind me of stories Lee told. Just the other day I read in the New York Times that people on the street-Traders, Brokers, Hedge Fund Managers and the Wall Street crowd-generally had one opinion, "The Occupiers are unsophisticated."
Well, haven't you heard..........the crowd that stormed the Bastille was unsophisticated. The Bolsheviks that stormed the Winter Palace were unsophisticated, and the Germans that followed Hitler were not sophisticated either, nor were the Chinese that made the Long March; and let's not forget the Bonus Marchers that built Hooverville on the Washington Mall. It seems the sophisticated Wall Streeters have not read their history.
Paul Krugman was recently on the Charlie Rose Show trying to explain all this. "Part of the problem is globalization," he said, "and its goal of flattening out the World Economy." This means that according to theory the American worker will make less and less until he intersects with the Mexican Worker who makes more and more. That's a great humanist theory. It will have the working classes of the world all making the same $3.00 or $4.00 an hour. Of course, goods will be cheaper to buy, so we'll all hold hands and sing Kumbaya.
America is a richer country than Mexico; it is richer in farmland, in forest, in minerals, in water, in coal, oil and gas and in hard-working, every-day Americans-the most productive workers in the world. There is no reason for Americans to acquiesce.
I remember when all this started-back in the late 70's. My first wife-since deceased-was a dress designer for a clothing company in Los Angeles. The founder of the company was a grand old man who had pulled himself up from poverty to riches; but when his son took over the company, he promptly built a factory in Korea. When I asked him what would happen to his L.A. employees, he looked up from his desk and said, "Fuck those people."
Unfortunately, this has become the attitude of a whole class in America today and Krugman talked about this-he talked about outsourcing, he talked about Steve Jobs and how he sold the iPhone toy for a premium in America while he made it for a pittance overseas. This class would love it if they could build factories overseas and fill them with robots-no humans needed.
Who are the members of this class.....and where do they live? They live in enclaves around the world-gated communities with guards at the entrance, high-rises with doormen in the lobby or on grand estates set back off of the road. Of course, that description is simplistic; but the point I am trying to make is that this crowd has little discourse with those out in the world around them. A sort of insularity develops in these cases-they don't know ordinary people or if they came from ordinary circumstances, they're trying to forget them. New York, London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Los Angeles are their home bases.
I will try to explain their mentality in this way. My son, Eliott, who teaches in the San Francisco area, has crossed the country many times by plane; but he has never driven a car through America. Consequently, when we talk about America, our perspectives are quite different. I say to him, "Eliott, you have never been to America."
That applies to the denizens of the international trading enclaves. They do not know-really know, for example, what my wife discovered in a recent trip to the south. That there are millions of men with guns that they know how to use and they are really, really pissed off.
This is true of other parts of the country also. This is true in the Great Lake Cities-cities that are just shells of their former selves. This is true in the heart of the Midwest. And this separation of classes is more pronounced than ever in the United States. In 1973, a CEO of a company made twenty-seven times as much as a worker on the shop floor; today's CEO's on the average, make three hundred times as much as do workers.
This can't last. I say that, not out of economic reasoning; I say it because I know the American people very well and their sense of fairness is gravely undermined. What Mr. Krugman and others of his ilk don't realize when they're talking about cost of production i.e. outsourcing, when they rush to protect the job-creators i.e. this group is a myth most CEO's are not creating jobs, they are laying people off in the name of efficiency. What Mr. Krugman and his crowd do not calculate is the inevitable cost of social unrest and disruption-not to mention the possibility down the road of revolution or civil war. I have read Mr. Krugman for many years in the New York Times and he is undoubtedly a smart man but in my opinion, he is, as the British say "too clever by half." He should take a stroll down to Wall Street and spend some time with the protesters and come to realize that in one way or another, these protests will not stop; they will not stop because the cause of the protest will not cease to exist. For example..........
Two Ph.D.'s are talking-the one without a job says to the one with a job, "I'll have a burger and fries."
The Rojay verdict on all of this is-the moneyed classes better pay attention and act accordingly; otherwise, they will be the grass and the American people will be the lawnmower. Oh, by the way, don't threaten to call out the troops or don't you know that due to our wars and overseas empire, in real terms-there are no troops. To the protesters, I would repeat what Gandhi said:
First they ignore you,
then they ridicule you,
then they fight you,
and then you win.
This blog is dedicated to Abbey, who attended a rally in Los Angeles, got bitten by a strange insect and spent two days in the hospital.
*Federal Theatre Project
Be sure to watch David Rojay on The Dave Rojay Show each Saturday night at 9:30 on Channel 17. Read A RED STATE HERO and THE LONG BRIDGE RUNNER by David Rojay on capecodtoday.com and finally check out David Rojay on YOUTUBE. For more information, Google "David Rojay".