Back a few years, when I had an office, and when each person in the office actually had their own office, one of my reportorial compatriots had an award-winning door of pro-labor editorial cartoons. At least I thought the cartoons she put up there were worthy of awards. One, in particular, has stayed with me.
A man sits in front of a large desk, behind which sits another man, whose appearance is typical cartoon "boss." The first man says something like "What do I want out of a job? I was thinking, a small, windowless office that has enough oxygen for me to breathe while I do my work."
The boss says, "Well, you're not asking for much, are you, Mr. Prima-Donna?"
Over the years, my enjoyment of that cartoon has evolved from its original wryly bitter appreciation to simply bitter. That's because too many of us have swallowed the lie of Privilege vs Right, of Luxury vs Necessity.
Today in 2013, do you think you have a right to work hard, and also a right not to be overworked for no pay? Do you think you have a right to work in a healthy environment, or at least a right to campaign with your boss to improve that environment? Do you think you have the right not to be harassed at work for any reason - sexual, political, the look of your clothing, the music you play at your desk, the church you might not go to on Sunday? Do you think you have a right to go home when you're sick and not have to worry that you won't have a job to come back to when you're well? Do you think you have a right not to have your pay cut, at least not so long as everyone in the company's not sharing the pain? Do you think you have a right to be told the truth by your managers, your bosses, your company owners? Do you think you have the right to be treated with a modicum of respect?
Outside the office, do you think you have the right to live your life with the person you love, and give them the legal protections they might need if you get sick or die? Do you think you have the right to decide what to do if you get pregnant? Do you think you have the right to move where you want to if your current home is dangerous? Do you think you have the right to dress the way you want? Do you think you have the right to be addressed by the pronoun you'd prefer? Do you think you have the right not to have people cross the street when you walk by them late at night? Do you think you have the right to be treated with respect by the police who are your fellow citizens? Do you have the right not to be beaten by your mother, or your boyfriend, or those guys who think you should be taken down a peg?
Each and every one of those things is - if you listen to the Captains of Industry, Princes of this or that
Privileges are given to you by those who have power. Given at a whim, and taken back just as quickly.
Rights? Who has rights these days?
Oh, I forgot. Those who have a great deal of power; they're the ones who demand rights these days. They demand the right to turn their states (if they're American) into "right to work" states (a triumph of Orwellian phraseology if ever there was one); they demand the right to have their endless pocketbooks recognized as free speech in the political process (again, forgive me for my North American parochialism, but it's where I live and where I struggle), and they get that right, courtesy of a judicial ruling; they demand the right to dirty our environment, kill our inner cities, cut our safety net for the weak and powerless, gut the social compact that is supposed to lie at the heart of civil society.
They demand the right to eliminate our rights.
And you know what? They've convinced us. They've convinced us that our rights are luxuries, and that their privileges are god-given rights.
They've done it so well that when people speak up and say, "Hey, wait! This sucks! I ... I have rights!" We've been Pavlov'd into making fun of them.
We say, "Well, aren't you a prima-donna!"
And the Captains of Industry, and the Princes of the World, they smile.
And what got me started on this horrible, horrible rant?
I read this and I got to this paragraph:
So take your "revise your expectations! check your ego!" Horatio Alger bullshit, and stuff it. While you're at it, stuff this economy. Not this GDP, not this unemployment level: this economy, this financial system that establishes complete social and political control over us, that conditions us to believe that we don't deserve basic shelter and clothing and food and education and existence-sustaining medical care unless we throw our lives into vassalage and hope, pray, that the lords don't fuck with our retirements or our coverages. (Maybe if we're extra productive, someday they'll do a 4o1K match again, like our ancestors used to talk about!)
and it all just boiled up. Because it's not just Generation Y who's being gulled, and laughed at and treated badly. It's all of us.
I have no idea whether any of this makes any sense to anyone else. wrote it all in one fell swoop, and it's pretty fell, because there's no organization going on at all, just a lot of scattershot thoughts; emotional, but not necessarily logically connected. It probably falls apart on any number of levels.
But what the hell is the internet if you can't rave on it?
At least I put it under a cut.
This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/272432.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.