It would have been great if there would have been a Hemingway or Fitzgerald out there writing about factories, workers, and wages, but as it is we did have Steinbeck and I don’t think Sinclair did all that bad. We still hear stories about meat packing plants that make us cringe, it used to be worse, much worse until Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle . The Sunkist Utopian
Despite the hoopla–and the royalties–Sinclair wasn’t happy. Nothing if not grandiose, he thought his book would end “wage slavery” in the way that Uncle Tom’s Cabin ended chattel slavery and convert his readers to socialism in the bargain. No dice. But hundreds of thousands of readers were transfixed by his graphic descriptions of working conditions in meatpacking plants: employees falling into open cooking vats, diseased cattle passing through slaughterhouses, amputated fingers ground into sausage. Here, for instance, in a legendary passage, Sinclair describes the rodent-beef ratio:
There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together.
Three days ago, next to the gutted and destroyed house in Qana, seven bodies lay covered with bedsheets, a blanket and a prayer mat. One small arm stretched out from under the sheets; thin, the arm of a little girl, a piece of cloth like a bracelet wrapped around the wrist. As bodies were loaded on the stretcher, I saw another dead girl; she was dressed in a black shirt with a coloured scarf wrapped loosely around her head. Her face was swollen.
In some ways I was relieved. The rumour we had heard in the hotel in Tyre was that at least 40 people, half of them children, had been in the house in Qana when it was bombed by Israeli planes, and here I was an hour later, with Red Cross workers and others running up and down, and all I could see was the bodies of two girls and five adults.
It’s weird, the things that make you feel better in the south of Lebanon, but seven dead instead of 40 gave me a sense of relief.
But even as I stood there registering that emotion, hellish scenes were unfolding. Four medics carried a little boy by on an orange stretcher: he was perhaps 12 years old, dressed in black shorts and a white T-shirt with a coloured motorcycle on it. His arms were stretched behind his head, but apart from the bruises on his face and the swollen lips, he looked OK. For half a second I told myself, as I tell myself every time I see death, that he was just sleeping, and that he would be fine. But he was dead.
Drug addict and conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh July 31, 2006,
“Until civilians — frankly, I’m not sure how many of them are actually just innocent little civilians running around versus active Hezbo types, particularly the men — but until those civilians start paying a price for propping up these kinds of regimes, it’s not going to end, folks. What do you mean, civilians start paying a price? I just ask you to consult history for the answer to that.”
I’m not sure how those innocent children or their parents propped up the “Hezbo types”. I’am also not sure how history excuses killing the innocent. If the answer was obvious all Limbaugh and other conservative pundits have to do is offer up some facts rather then some conspiracy theories about buildings rigged to explode and time stamps on photos.
Matthew Yglesias explains why establishing the kind of brutality that Limbaugh and others support may be many things, but it is not the policy of liberal democracies, but of dictators, Brutality and Insurgency
The thing of it is that it isn’t a coincidence that Saddam and Assad were brutal dictators. Which is to say it’s not that on the one hand they were brutal dictators and then on the other hand they crushed insurgents with brutal measures. In order to make counterinsurgency-through-brutality work you need to be actually trying to establish or maintain a brutal dictatorship, crushing civil society and ruling perpetually through force.
This is why the Western colonial powers, despite a willingness to engage in the occassional massacre, couldn’t make even though tactics work to maintain their empires. For a combination of ethical reasons (England and France thought of themselves as humane, liberal powers) and practical ones (an empire’s not worth having if you need to work really hard to administer it) nobody wanted to perpetually govern India or Algeria as police states.
Conservatives, safe at home in jammys and fuzzy slippers have run hard and fast to the ideological cliff . Over the edge is the belief that somehow the Israeli or U.S. brutality is morally superior to the brutality by others. I guess I’ll never be one of the kool-kids since I still think to be morally superior you have to act morally superior,
The logic of pursuing a “transformative agenda” for the Middle East primarily through the use of force is that the entire Muslim world should be turned into a gigantic police state run by the United States of America. But, obviously, we’re not going to do that, we shouldn’t try to do that, and if we did try to do that we’d fail.
Among households worth less than $13,500, their average net worth in 2001 was $0. By 2004, it was down to –$1,400.
Bush’s tax cuts (extended until 2010) save those earning between $20,000 and $30,000 an average of $10 a year, while those earning $1 million are saved $42,700.
In 2002, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) compared those who point out statistics such as the one above to Adolf Hitler.
Bush has dedicated $750 million to “healthy marriages” by diverting funds from social services, mostly child care.
Bush has proposed cutting housing programs for low-income people with disabilities by 50%.
With the exception of those years when Bill Clinton at least stopped some of the hemorrhaging we’ve been living in a conservative trickle down economy for the last thirty years. One can’t look at numbers like this and claim that the trickle is making it down to working class Americans. Long term it is just not in the nation’s best interests to have a permanent under class whose upward mobility is more driven by luck then work while conservatives reward the wealthy merely for being wealthy. Part of me thinks that “consumer confidence” indexes are silly, but they do play a role in how much people spend and what they spend it on. How much confidence can a third or more of the population have in the future if all they can dream of spending their money on is the base necessities for survival.
George : Elaine, bald men, with no jobs, and no money, who live with their parents, don’t approach strange women.
Jerry : Well here’s your chance to try the opposite. Instead of tuna salad and being intimidated by women, chicken salad and going right up to them.
George : Yeah, I should do the opposite, I should.
Jerry : If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.
George : Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do something!
from the script for the Seinfeld episode The Opposite