Three Months In The Working Class

So back in May I’m working painfully slowly on the film.

That would be “Megadittoes: Inside Rush Limbaugh’s America.” I just settled on that title by the way. I’ve tried several words in front of “Rush Limbaugh’s America.” “Exploring” was one. “Examining” was another. None of them really worked. Just a minute ago . . . literally 20 minutes ago — “Inside” came to me. By George, I think that’s it.

Anyway, I’m making slow, painful progress, and I hatch this idea to create some trailers for the film to build some buzz about it.

Well guess what. I’ve got ADD from hell. And when the going gets tough, I start looking out the window and daydreaming. This time, I started messing around on dating sites. Mind you, I had a long term live in girlfriend — providing me with work space for the film. Asshole that I am, I started looking around for some “erotic chat.” Yes, my friends, I can be a bad boy.

You can guess what happened.

I met a woman. It turned out that she lived like a mile and a half away from me, and we promptly started doing the horizontal tango.

Let me tell you, it was goooooood.

In fact, I fell head over heels in love with her, and promptly wound up on the street after my common law wife kicked my ass to the curb [as well she should have]. I spent July at my mother’s house, pulling Rush Limbaugh soundbites — yes, I spent a month doing this, that’s how slow the process is. I also saw the new “love of my life” on the weekends. Turns out she was still playing around on-line, talking dirty to other dudes. And guess what? So was I. What can I say. It was a hell of a summer.

Despite this, in August I moved in with her.

She is a single mother with two children still at home. She works for minimum wage or close to it, and has two different boarders who stay with her. She still engages in what can only be described as a monthly death struggle to make ends meet.

Obviously, she needed me to be bringing in some cash. Well, I haven’t had a regular job in 3 years. I’ve been working in radio selling advertising, and raising money for the film. It would take me 6 months to find any decent employment, commensurate with my skill sets — something she didn’t really want me to do, anyway, but that’s another story.

So I started working gigs off of Craig’s List. We’re talking things like moving people’s washers and dryers. I also did a fair amount of landscaping — including laying sod, which for those of you who don’t live in Florida, is the dirtiest, most physically demanding job I’ve ever done. I actually lost 40 pounds — and got my blood pressure down.

Yes, it’s been good for me, physically.

Mentally and spiritually? Well, that’s another story.

I got a good close up look at those we call “working people.” It wasn’t always pretty.

Now, those of you who know me will know how much time I spend extolling the virtues of those who do the work creating everything we all consume. It’s the first line in Adam Smith.

“The annual labor of a nation is the fund which furnishes the necessaries and conveniences of life that a nation annually consumes.”

Wealth is created by labor — and appropriated by the wealthy.

I have styled myself as a “working man” . . . and I moved a lot of furniture, and did a lot work with a shovel this summer to prove it.

But I am not a “working man.” I don’t think like a working man. I think like a lawyer. And when I’m not doing that, I think like a professor of history or political philosophy.

History and political philosophy are a looonnnng way from my working class lover. She doesn’t know what “political philosophy” is. Mind you, she is entirely capable of knowing that. I can’t deal with a stupid girlfriend, and she isn’t stupid. Her focus is just a little different from mine. Actually, it’s a lot different.

As for what she knows, here’s a little laundry list for you.

  • Her new grandson’s other grandmother is addicted to crack cocaine. I have seen her up close, and she looks like a refugee from Dachau.
  • That same other grandmother has a daughter who is already addicted to prescription pain killers. I saw her Monday, walking around her yard in her bath robe with her “junk” fully exposed. Trust me. There was nothing the least bit erotic about it.
  • My new sweetheart has a past boyfriend who was addicted to prescription pain killers — and to be fair, even a millionaire like Rush Limbaugh can fall victim to the same illness.
  • Her ex-husband died of cirrhosis of the liver at the ripe old age of 51 — my age right now. Yes, he was a serious drunk, and you can see scars on her hands, arms and face where the son of a bitch assaulted her.
  • Her father was even worse . . . and is incredibly still alive, and apparently healthy. He quit drinking and smoking some years ago — unlike her ex-husband who had the basic decency to die, and put himself out of everybody else’s misery.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I basically spent the month of July listening to one hair raising story after another of drunks, addicts, abusers, and assorted other losers — basically, everybody she knows, male or female.

Well, not quite everybody. She also has some family members and acquaintances who are quite prosperous. They listen to Rush Limbaugh, and spend an awful lot of time talking about “the niggers” — the focus of their political awareness. They’re working people, too — who carved out a little piece of prosperity profiting from the labor of those same drunks, addicts, abusers, and assorted other losers who work for them. And those drunks, etc. mostly work, believe it or not. Her deceased ex-husband used to pull down a grand a week as a heavy equipment operator. He drank up every bit of it.

He was made that way by his parents. Who were made that way by their parents. They are all hard at work turning their children into the same dysfunctional people they are — except my working class lover. Her children appear to be relatively well adjusted.

The other working people I met abuse each other, exploit each other, manipulate each other, lie to each other, cheat on each other [mea culpa, yes I did that too] . . . and never help each other. We had an argument the other night, where my love explained “nobody in my family helps anybody.”

You see, she resents the fact that my mother . . . and other family members . . . help each other out when we need it. Remember George W. Bush? His family — rich people, who went to Yale, and had generations as members of Skull And Bones — put him into one busines after another, until he finally made something work — owning 3% of the Texas Rangers. Rich people help each other. Working people don’t. Coincidence? I think not.

Does she know that George W. Bush went to Yale? Does she know that he was a member of “Skull and Bones?” Does she know what “Skull And Bones” is . . . and it’s impact on the power structure of the United States? Does she know what the phrase “power structure” means?

She doesn’t know and doesn’t care.

She wants to work as hard as she has to . . . harder than she has to, in fact . . . to get into a position to basically drink margaritas, hang out at the beach on weekends, and fuck. [And brother, does she ever like to fuck.]

Now I have to tell you. I have contemplated the wisdom of spending the rest of my days drinking margaritas, hanging out at the beach, and fucking. If it weren’t for this damn mind I have that keeps wanting to do things like produce documentaries, I could get used to the idea. But I just spent a couple of months in the sub-basement of American society, and I will tell you. She will work damn hard to ever have even a somewhat easier life . . .

. . . if the working class life she’s living now doesn’t kill her, first.

If I join her there, that life will eventually kill me . . . starting with my mind, the mind I share with you here, from time to time.

There are things she could do. There are things all working people can do, starting with learning some history, some basic economics, and developing some political skills. The infrastructure exists right now — it’s called “Craig’s list,” and it could be easily subverted into an organizing tool for labor. She doesn’t even perceive anything like that as a possibility.

She will tell you — quickly, and forcefully — that she doesn’t need to know any of that “useless” history or basic economics.

Which is interesting, because she has a natural insight into the central importance of labor. She is actually quite smart about the basic political and social relationships she lives in. She just doesn’t know what to do to change them. She doesn’t think she can change them. She doesn’t perceive that any other world, any other life, any other possibilities, exist. In other words, she doesn’t know how to get to that life on the beach.

She doesn’t understand that the way to that life on the beach passes through a place called “politics”. When working people get that, things will get better . . . for all of us.

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