According to a recent study released by Oxfam America, one of every four working Americans earns less than $10 and hour.
$10 an hour! That’s $400 a week. $20,800 a year. You’d better be living alone if you make that kind of scratch. And I do mean scratch. If you have kids, you’re screwed.
At least a quarter of this holy land’s population lives, therefore, in poverty. As Oxfam America concludes, the United States is “The most unequal rich country in the world.”
Need any more reason to support organized labor?
The Limits Of Evil
This nation commits its share of crimes, both great and minor, against humanity. There is no argument. It is in the nature of empire to steamroll individuals and even other nations. If you don’t like it and wish it to change, then you must be prepared to give up cheap gas, air conditioning every single enclosed space you enter, filling your refrigerator enough to feed a small Bangladeshi town, and paying a first baseman $25 million a year.
I don’t like much of what the Earth’s only superpower does in the name of god and country and I’m not afraid to say so. That’s what this space has been all about for the last five years (we moved from The Third City to The Electron Pencil a couple of years back.)
On the other hand, are we really all that bad? Is America as evil as, say, the old Soviet Union or even, as some on both ends of the spectrum love to shout, Nazi Germany?
To say so is to identify one’s self as a boob.
Our most heinous evils, I daresay, are behind us. The Indian Holocaust and slavery are history and although we still have economic Jim Crow and we relegate Native Americans to sports mascots, the leaders of America are not ordering their mass killing.
An example. I’m reading the book Six Months in 1945, by Michael Dobbs. It covers the endgame of World War II when the leaders of the USSR, the United Kingdom, and America carved up the post-war world. In February of that year, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin met at Yalta, a spectacularly gorgeous stretch of waterfront on the Black Sea in Crimea.
“You Take This; I’ll Take That.”
The victors of “The Good War” were gathering in a place that was surrounded by desolation. The Crimea had been ravaged by invading German armies. In fact, as Roosevelt rode through the countryside on his way to the Livadia Palace, where he’d stay during the talks, he watched the passing lifeless landscape and remarked that he must suggest to Stalin that he re-forest the great Crimean plateau. He also said that the scorched and empty lands made him want to visit revenge upon the Nazis more than ever.
The only problem was, as much as the invading Wehrmacht devastated the Crimea, the Soviet Union itself, under orders from Stalin, had destroyed, killed, and razed in the countryside as efficiently and happily as the Nazis had. See, a few Tatars had more or less cooperated with the invading Germans. Therefore, in Stalin’s mind, every Tatar was guilty (at least potentially so) of collaboration.
Man Of Steel
In Stalin’s mind, even the possibility that an individual or group might commit treason was the equivalent of guilt. A few Tatars flipping to the enemy was the same as all of them doing so.
Stalin ordered the relocation of the Tatars from their centuries-old homeland to a desert in Uzbekistan. That is, some 190,000 civilians were forced into train cars, locked in without water or waste disposal facilities, and sent off on a days-long journey. Nearly one in five died. While this was going on, the Soviet security forces flattened the land from which they’d come.
This happened in 1944. Anyone who is 69 years old or older was alive when it happened. My mother was 23. George H.W. Bush was 20. Warren Buffet, George Soros, Clint Eastwood, Rupert Murdoch, and Vin Scully all were alive.
The incident is within the lifetime memory of thousands, hundreds of thousands — hell, millions — still alive today.
That didn’t happen here. Nor did the mass killings in Cambodia in the late 1970s. The East Pakistan politicide of 1971. The almost countless genocides of sub-Saharan Africa since the 1950s. The +40 million killings in Mao-ist China.
The United States often is a bad player. But our evil of late has been finite.
That’s something to remember. Even if we are the the most unequal rich country in the world.
What’s Going On
The full album, right here.