Google+ Followers

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

THE WORKING POOR

baja rock



Yesterday I brought Jr's birdfeeder home. I asked Harry, who is living in Jr's house, if he's using the birdfeeder that stood on a post outside the big window by the dining table. He said he'd taken it up and it was lying on the ground next to the house so he wouldn't have to mow around it. He said, Sure, go get it. He also had a bag of bird seed he'd never opened, which he sent along with the birdfeeder. To my eye, it looks like something ancient Japanese, simple lines, wooden little house so old it has lichen growing on the roof. The seed goes in a space between two clear plexiglas panels that show how much seed is in the reservoir. It has a squirrel guard under it too. I tried to put it far enough from trees and rhododendron to inhibit a squirrel, though I doubt it will. It doesn't matter. It keeps the ground around it covered with seed and birds pecking around in last year's fallen leaves. I put it about 4 feet from Tapo's headstone so she can dream birds. Caterpillar doesn't go outside much and doesn't hunt birds at all anymore. With only one indoor cat, it's ok to lure birds back.



In the mail today was a copy of Barbara Ehrenreich's 2001 book, Nickel and Dimed: On (not) getting by in America. I'd read about it when it was new and made a mental note I wanted to read it some day. Found it at amazon for very little and started it today. Can't stop. I've been looking for a book I can't stop reading. I need that kind of book to jump start my reading. I've been putting my focus on computer and movies and the stack of books I want to read grows taller. But not one of them pulls me into it, which I need now to get back on reading track. I find that computer thinking / watching movies thinking makes reading such a slow thing to do that when I pick up a book, it feels like walking through mud, it's so slow. Slow is where I want my mind to be. Sitting still reading feels like doing nothing, while the computer and movies, tv and radio too, give a feeling of involvement. Though when I get caught up in the fast machines is when I want to slow down in the head and read.



Barbara Ehrenreich's book involves her stepping outside her role as herself, New York writer, columnist, and pretending she's recently divorced, on her own, needs a job and a place to live, as someone without skills. In the beginning she's found restaurant jobs and motel bed changing jobs. What she's finding from the very start is the people who work for 6 and 7 dollars an hour, minimum wage, can't live on what they make and their work takes into no account their humanity. She cleaned rooms in motels. She worked with the other women and men doing whatever work she was involved in. She found the application for a Wal-mart job the most demeaning of all. They're the masters. Their employees make so little they qualify for medicare and the US government ("taxpayer") pays for the healthcare of underpaid Wal-mart employees, while the Waltons wallow in billions apiece in an underground bunker guarded above by snipers in towers. Arkansas. This is Ayn Rand's fantasy come true. The American Dream. Ehrenreich didn't tell the Wal-mart part---she'd take it for granted the reader already knows about that. It was yesterday's news yesterday.



I've wondered if we humans will take to moving underground as aboveground becomes more inhospitable stripped of its minerals, trees and water, the ground infertile after decades of oil-based fertilizer, global warming, and other horrors that accompany these. Trends often started with the rich and "trickled down" over time. In the time of Astors in New York the rich tended to be fat. Showed wealth. They could afford to eat. Now the rich are trim and the working people are fat. The rich play tennis, golf and perform other fitness conscious exercises, have personal trainers, while the working people watch tv. Trim with 6-pac abs is status. Shows you don't work for a living. As Ayn Rand imagined, the rich are moving underground with razor wire enclosures around the access hole and an army of guards with high tech like on tv. If the rich are trickling underground in the present time, a trend may follow. You're nothing if you live above ground. You're just a peasant working in fields and factories. I was picturing the move underground a mass move done in a hurry of necessity. It's looking like it will take several decades, maybe centuries. Instead of outer space conquests, I'm seeing back to donkeys, cotton gowns and sandals as the most practical way to be. Maybe not.



*

No comments:

Post a Comment