The Moment of Truth — June 13, 1998

Reflection on ’80s/’90s; Persecute the Poor

Hi, I’m mejeffdorchen and welcome to the Moment of Truth, that singular moment in the broadcast week when, despite the attempts of the corporate overlords and their media lackeys to eviscerate the truth, to draw and quarter it, keelhaul it, hang it from the yardarm and flay it alive, defang and disembowel it, bury it and dance on its grave – in spite of all this, the moment of truth is that singular moment when the truth is resurrected in all its humility, not to shine in glory like the phoenix risen from the ashes, no, but more like a little old lady some rich pig pushed into a meatgrinder and left for dead, but who nevertheless turns up at the terrified class enemy’s front door, turns her cold, guileless gaze upon him and says simply: "You owe me an apology."

This week I went out to Peoria to put a custom finish on some custom cabinetry at some rich white guy’s mother’s house. That’s my money job lately. I do decorative finishes. And I had to go out to Peoria this week to do it.

And every time I drive through what they call on TV "Middle America" or "The Heartland", I’m always struck by the desolation scourged upon it by that cancer of the capitalist landscape, the Franchise. You can drive through a town that’s five miles across, drive ten miles to the next town, and that next town will have the same damn strip of identical businesses. Oh, there will be a few homegrown mom and pop places, but the cloned look of these streets that front on the passing highway is pretty striking, seeing as how we’ve gone to such lengths to disempower Big Brother.

You remember, right? Government was getting too big? It was threatening to run our lives. Turn us into dehumanized drones in an insect-like society, regulating what we could eat, where we could sleep, what we could read and think.

So what did we do? We cut the welfare benefits of all those poor people who were controlling our lives. We cut out health care for all those immigrants who were regulating when we could sleep and when we had to wake up. We started chipping away at affirmative action so that all those minorities would stop stuffing our faces with overprocessed food. We invented workfare so that all those single mothers living below the poverty line would stop hiring us as temporary labor to avoid paying us benefits and so their undernourished children would stop busting our unions and depriving us of democracy in the workplace.

Somehow, though, it didn’t work. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. All I know is you go to any small town in the continental United States and you can buy gas from Shell, burgers from Burger King and McDonalds, snacks from any one of several oddly named subsidiaries of the four transnational corporations than own 90% of all the food on earth, and then you can read about how stupid you are in USA Today. Clone villages. Xerox food. Erzatz proprietorship. Like a Hollywood movie set of a western town, all facade with nothing behind it, the image of the ideal United States – even the concept of property ownership itself is an empty mask. The Franchise.

The opportunity to sell yourself, your time, your energy to the highest bidder is a lame simulation of freedom. I don’t know why I have to keep reminding everybody of that all the time. I think we’ve accepted this simulated freedom in the US because we’re tired of arguing about it already. We know we can’t have it because it would mean limiting the power of the powerful, and they won’t let that happen. They’ve twisted every possible discussion that could lead to their being deposed, and so we’re tired already, and most of us have a place to live, a TV, food to eat. So what are we gonna do? Threaten our comfortable existence by hacking at the ever-thickening jungle of propaganda designed to thwart our common sense? National health care would be socialism. Okay, fine. Investors deserve huge tax-free profits because they take a financial risk that benefits society, while you, teacher, construction worker, waitress – take no risk at all and benefit no one of any importance. Okay, all right, I’m tired, leave me alone. I don’t really want a society that attempts to organize itself around an idea of justice. I’ll just take whatever you’re selling.

It’s just too tiring to talk back. They’re just too loud. While I whisper the truth here in this dingy corner of the FM dial, a zillion voices are calling me a liar in a communications market that blankets the globe. I’m getting tired just thinking about it.

We’re all tired. How else can we, a society made up mostly of compassionate individuals, collectively terrorize and starve and exile and imprison people for being poor? How can we explain our collective actions when individually we’re such nice folks? It must be that we’re exhausted.

So listen, let’s all get some rest. Let’s all just go to sleep during the coming week, so that next week when we’re called upon to be awake and alert for the Moment of Truth with mejeffdorchen right here on National Beer Presents This is Hell with your host Chuck Mertz every Saturday 10am to noon here on WNUR 89.3 FM Chicago’s sound experiment, we’ll be ready to take that challenge and cut the crap. Until then this is mejeffdorchen bidding you Shalom Aloha: Shaloha.