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26 December, 2010

The Paranoia of the Hyperfortunate

Assume, as radiochronologists do, that 1950 is the present, and that all dates before that are so many years BP. By 1950, enough by-products of atomic weapons experimentation had gotten into the air and water to make radiometric dates unreliable (and to spawn Godzilla--Libby and his inner circle are rumored to have chosen 1950 mostly for this very reason, though none ever admitted to it in public). You could argue for 1945, when the US nuked two cities, but nobody funding science in the West wanted to highlight that. Scientists like data that can speak across national and cultural divides, and besides, in a world brought together by two world wars, it was getting embarrassing to express dates in terms of a leader in the Judean nonviolent resistence to Roman occupation. Especially when it sunk in that we had become Rome.

Now the difficulty is with dates after 1950. Following the logic of BP, it should be AP, but that name is taken by a news organization associated with press, which seems so archaic and ill-fitting on the infinite future implied. I won't offer another universal solution, and instead will choose reference points fleeting and provincial, fickle and idiosyncratic.

With that out of the way, now I can gress:

After the dust had settled and the corpses changed from stinking to feeding lush new growth, Americans settled in back at home where most of the few causalties had occurred in factories. They boomed forth offspring, we had a pretty easy time for a generation. People say the 1960s were a time of upheaval, but the fact is that the huge majority kept doing the same boring things they'd been doing.

So they kept going to work and having families and staking out their little claim of American dreamscape. And for a generation or so, a young man entering the workforce could look forward to a lifetime job. A lot of these have become obsolete: corps of clerks fit in a single hard drive now, a salesmen between me and the thing I want to buy is an impediment and cost that will turn me elsewhere, and ultimately (to the dismay of the managers who let all those underlings go) you don't need so many managers for so few workers.

But from 0-25 BJC (Before Jimmy Carter), a lot of these jobs were easy to come the right people. Like people who were white and had a penis. And didn't have an accent, or worship someone besides Jesus, or you-know, act different. Put on your tie and collect your paycheck. Easy as pie.

Fortunately for these guys, European industry was in ruins and unable to compete, the US had inherited the Pacific, and the rest of the world had yet to show much capacity for global business. Our steel and everything made from it shipped world-wide, plastics and electronics metastesized, and some smart socialism (like the Marshall Plan and interstate highway construction) developed ever wider markets intrernationally and at home. The guy selling products that sold themselves (but needed a human to fill out forms in triplicate) could get fat off of commissions and bonuses.

I grew up among these guys' kids, a lot of whom managed to pull off a similar trick, although most have moved from one employer to another, partly because increased efficiencies wrung from automation, outsourcing, mergers and other sources of working class unempoloyment have alchemized into benefits for the bosses. These are the hyperfortunate, those who had good things fall into their laps by virtue of being born.

Like most of the blessed throughout history, these people dwell on the down-side. They have so much to lose, and there are so many people out there who might want to take it. Or, they know they have something, but not as much as their bosses, their alleged betters.

So the riots and anti-war protests and drugiastic mayhem of the years 10-6 BJC may not have ever harkened a fair, peaceful and open-minded social order. But they did manage to scare some people, if only because they were frowned at anymore for saying 'nigger' and nursed nagging fears that their daughter might marry one, or their son might take drugs and not wanna work. At the office, having to hire women and Negroes upset the indelicate balance of the boys' club; plurality and compliance with laws and rules meant to engineer equality finally rendered management real work.

Simultaneously faced with social pressure to talk nice and legal sanction for discriminating (and later, for poisoning the environment), the hyperfortunate felt their fears a-fruiting, saw opportunities for their children begin to be harvested by the melanin-rich, the exotically-accented, the others. And so they blamed hyphenated Americans and insinuated that women who worked were child-haters or dykes. And despite continued interventions by the government on behalf of Business, they took to blaming the government as well.

As that oxymoron "political correctness" took root and blaming minorities and women became taboo (on paper), the hyperfortunate took the gummint route more and more often. From its diesel-rainbowed rutwater the Tea Party emerged. Not evolved, because they don't believe in that, and the movement is patently inhuman and unnatural. The Kochs and Fox and a rash of richers who do not rhyme but have bast amounts of cash at their disposal, concocted its molecular structure from petrochemicals and bile, conjured up a soul from Greed and Gluttony and Covetousness, blessed by voodoo economic priests (yet continued to be labeled "Christian"), and turned it loose in the electorate.

They are greatly aided by the fact that the government's apparent head is a black man with a foreign-sounding name one letter removed from that of our most famous terrorist enemy. Nobody has to say the N-word to get the biggot masses riled up, "Obama" is the perfect stand-in. And so the anti-government rhetoric has ratcheted up from Reagan's folksy assphorisms to fear of black helicopters and love for the Rapture to the widespread belief that the liberals want totalitarian government run by a president who is some sort of foreign agent.

Which is preposterous. The last time our president was a foreign agent, a group of Saudis attacked our financial center, we committed to a costly war in a country that had nothing to do with it, and the remaining parties of the Axis of Evil came away with more power than ever.

One facet of hyperfortunate paranoia is that blaming the truly culpable is not an option. Don't bite the hand that feeds you, or you will be fired. Or maybe next time instead of feeding you that baloney (steaks are but a memory for the old, a legend to the young), it will hand you actual crap. Our woes cannot be the fault of corporations galloping toward next year's bankruptcy to maximize this quarter's profits. Do not blame Exxon or the healthcare industry or Cheney, because you want to be as rich as them one day, and won't want anyone attacking you then. Fight to protect what you aspire to tooth and nail, and someday you may be rewarded.

The fine print confirms that loyal commoners will not be rewarded, but never mind. All that matters is that the tripe pie that remains for the 99% of people who do most of the work and get least of the rewards is not only not infinite, it is shrinking, and even the dumbass who got his job due to his frat or church or other born-white connection can see that. He sure as hell does not want to see someone else bellying up to the table.

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