I rise today in defense of working stiffs and blue collar workers throughout the world—the ones we too often take for granted and whose character too many besmirch. It’s bad enough that we idolize and fawn over the moneyed gentry as if they are nobility who are better than us simply because they have amassed ungodly wealth. There is some sort of perverse pathology behind society’s need to pray at the alter of the aristocracy; especially given that the billionaire class make and enhance their vast fortunes by stepping on the neck of 99% of humanity. Adding insult to injury, the immorality of the oligarchy is celebrated as virtue while those who reside at the bottom rung of society are blamed as malcontents who are mired in penury solely because of their sloth.
It is this absurdity, the insanity of calling the working class lazy, that served as the catalyst for this article. I wrote an article yesterday (the Devil is a Philanthropist) where I took wealthy miscreants like Bill Gates, George Soros, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and their ilk to task for their counterfeit benevolence and the spurious “charity” they unleash to handicap billions throughout the world into a perpetual state of indigence and dependency. I knew before I wrote the article that I would attract a certain demographic of people who conflate wealth with morality and confuse excess of cash with treasures of the heart.
Just as I expected, the sycophants who adulate over the “upper-crust” and idolize the well-heeled saw red and started to flail about questioning my worth and calling me a hater because I dared to talk against the affluent. That part did not bother me, what stuck in my craw was when some chose to attack the poor and demean those left behind by this vicious machine of capitalism that is destroying the vast sea of humanity. Now I know some will want to attack me and label me a communist because I dared to cast aspersions at the holy grail of capitalism. We are so trained to think in modalities and binaries that some take my rejection of one ideology as an embrace of its polar opposite.
Let me clear this up real fast. Communism is just as immoral and bankrupt as capitalism as I wrote a few weeks ago (Capitalism is Communism). At the risk of mimicking the cadence of useless politicians, let me be frank and make this perfectly clear—I am not against private business neither am I against entrepreneurship. Ghion Journal is a private business and our aim is to take on the Corporate State Media and to become a viable source of news for the public; trust me I am as entrepreneurial as they come. Even though my aim is not to be the next Ted Turner for my purpose it to make a difference instead of making billions, when it comes to audacity I will match my hopes against any media mogul or Manchurian candidate.
We should all be entrepreneurs; all of us are born with unique gifts, we should bring these aptitudes to the marketplace of ideas and find ways to earn a living leveraging our abilities instead of using our capabilities to fulfill the dreams of someone else. However, capitalism has never been about entrepreneurship; it has always been about stifling competition by any means possible. It morphed a long time ago into an vicious hydra that is gobbling up chunks of this planet and humanity along with it. Capitalism is a stage IV cancer that is metastasizing daily as it feeds on healthy bodies and companies in order to nourish the wealthy scoundrels who sit atop of us.
I thus pen this defense of the “little guy”, in the process I am defending the little guy from other little guys who love to shit on their own kind as they pay homage to the affluent wolves who gnaw at all of us. I was raised by parents who busted their ass in order to ensure that my three siblings and I attend college and have the opportunities in life they lacked growing up. My mother, a stay at home mom, did her part as she fed, clothed and nurtured a house full of children to the point of exhaustion all the while wearing multiple hats of bookkeeper, physician, coach and chef—stay at home mom is a profession where work NEVER stops.
For his part, my father worked three and four jobs at a clip in order to keep up with the bills and keep food on the table. My father is my hero of all heroes; he literally worked 16 hour days and slept a few hours in between shifts. Fikremariam Million’s day started by getting up at 5:00 AM to drive a taxi before heading over to the post office to sort letters and lift boxes for ten hours only to get back to the taxi and drive a few more hours. He came home exhausted and spent seven days a week. Though my father passed away from lung cancer in 2001, I know in my heart that a contributing factor to his death was the sheer wear and tear he put on his body trying to keep a roof over our heads.
My parents were not the exception to the rule; in household after household throughout America and throughout the globe, you will find mothers and fathers who bust their asses to give their kids a shot at a better life. In terms of vigor and perseverance, none can match the grit and determination of blue collar workers and laborers who make pittance yet maintain the morality and decency to play by the rules and pay their fair share of taxes. The billionaire class can’t lay a glove on the work ethic of farmers, laborers, mechanics, and those who we dismissively call “low skill workers”.
There was a time in my life where I counted myself as part of the upper-middle class and privileged lot. I worked at Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the preeminent consulting companies in the world, and took home a six figure income for the eight hours I spent in the comforts of an air conditioned offices at the various Federal and Defense agencies I supported over a fifteen year career. I used to think I had it rough; oh the horrors of being stuck in traffic or having to turn around a deliverable to a client as crashed timelines required expedited workflows. I never had to worry about the next meal nor did I have to worry about keeping up with the rent. Compared to the rest of humanity, I counted myself as part of the top 5%.
But then a twist I could never have imagined happened almost three years ago; in short order I found myself at the bottom of society’s strata. From six figures I went to nada income; let me tell you my friends, count your blessings if you have a white collar job. Being in the bottom rung of society is no joke, poverty is a black hole from which few emerge from. Not only do you have to hustle and bustle working like a mule for menial pay, you do so knowing that your income is never enough to keep up with the basic expenses of life. Life becomes a balancing act where you have to occasionally choose between meals and shelter. In a country that has more wealth than most of the planet combined, it is a crying shame that what I experienced for two years is the normal for almost half of our nation’s population.
To compare the depravity of imps like Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Bill Gates or Warren Buffet to the fortitude of blue collar workers is insulting. The rich and affluent barely do any work; let me tell you a little secret, once you attain a certain level of wealth—if you are cunning enough to hire the right people, shrewd enough to declare bankruptcy to get out of paying debt and depraved enough to game the system to not pay your fair share of taxes—you can literally live a life of a dukes and duchesses for the rest of your life and barely lift a finger while sipping on the most expensive Merlot wines.
There is another layer of perversion that is indicative of a society that is decaying from within. It’s not enough that the rich and famous have it made; as they keep getting more and more at the expense of humanity, those of us who bust our behinds to make ends meet make it our purpose to give the rich what little we have. We donate our money to millionaire and billionaire politicians, we give our hard earned cash to non-profits that only profit plutocrats, and worse of all, the rich and wealthy are offered free food and trinkets at restaurants and stores even though they have enough money to buy the establishment and the people along with it. Meanwhile, we treat the homeless people and the indigent who need charity the most as lepers to be marginalized.
We live in an age where more than 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. The Recession of 2008 was the death of the American dream; those who are still living a middle-class life are doing so filled with never ending economic uncertainty and anxiety. The rest have been swallowed whole into the abyss of poverty and dependence. The empty suit Obama gained the White House promising hope and change but as soon as he got elected shoved trillions of dollars to the same bastards who stole trillions from the life savings of millions of Americans.
For the rest of us, it was “let them eat Monsanto cakes!” Trump continues the policies of transferring wealth from the many to the few while we are busy fighting over politics and idiotic hashtags. Caring for the least of us is no longer a quaint story but an exigent imperative; but for one or two paychecks missed, there too we go to the pavements. My journey and plight is not the exception; my struggle is the new normal. But I have never been more proud in my life than to stand shoulder to shoulder with the working class heroes like my father once was instead of navigating the maze of corporate cubicles branded with ID badges around my neck. I have gained more wisdom about life in the past two years of hardship than I ever did attaining an MBA at Johns Hopkins University or chasing corporate acceptance at Booz Allen Hamliton.
Let this article serve as a reminder and a defense for the working stiffs throughout America and the world. It is high time we stop idolizing the rich and powerful and instead care for the least among us. I promise you this one thing, the oligarchy are not thinking about us and if they do it is with contempt for those they consider beneath them. The honor does not belong to the scoundrels who are slick and sly enough to game the system to make billions while screwing the rest of us. The honor belongs to those who bust their asses working jobs that few of us want yet do their duty with dignity and decency. Instead of electing a billionaire grifter or a slick talker, maybe next time around we should elect a leader who is a mother working at the Waffle House or a father who is a taxi driver. Those who know our struggles and experience our strife will be more compassionate than those who thrive by screwing US. #DefendingLabor
“The rich rob the poor, and the poor rob one another.” ~ Sojourner Truth
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Check out the Ghion Cast below where I discuss the gifts that we all have and how we can turn our dust into diamonds.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Latest posts by Lij Teodrose Fikremariam (see all)
- Ethiopia’s Choice: Poverty through Grievance or Prosperity through Unity - September 9, 2019
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- A Matter of Life or Death: We Cannot Afford to Ignore Mental Illnesses Any Longer - August 17, 2019