I live in California. I was born in California during a time when being a first-generation Californian was still something of a thing, even if it was one that was on its way out. I spent the first years of my life in Southern California, and my beginning grade school years in Texas and Oregon. I’ve lived in California without interruption since 1977. My family didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up. There were years that were better than others, a couple of years in the very middle of things when it looked like we might ascend to the ranks of the actual middle class, but no, we were never well-off. There was no real fruit juice of any kind in our house, you know what I’m saying, we had orange Kool-Aid, and grape Kool-Aid, and that was juice. My tennis shoes were from K-Mart. Clothes were from K-Mart or thrift stores, or hand-me-downs from whomever. I cried once looking at a shopping mall window display realizing that’s where the popular girls at school got their clothes, and why they sometimes laughed at my outfits or questioned where I got them from. (I did get the once a year Christmas infusion of a few new clothes from Sears or Penney’s from my grandmother.) I remember being seven and becoming aware of who The Rolling Stones were when I saw the cover of the album “Let it Bleed” and not understanding how anyone could waste food like that, while I was so hungry. Someday, I vowed, I would have pizza, and cake.
I bought a copy of that album earlier this year. Thank you, God, I’m a long way from that drafty, freezing cold, old house in Oregon where we listened to old records to pass the time and while we cleaned the house and to try to get our minds on other things. But I hated the Rolling Stones then, just for that album cover.
In California right now, we have the highest fuel prices in the nation. We’re paying over four dollars a gallon, there are places where it’s close to five dollars a gallon. I’m not kidding. That’s higher than what they pay for fuel in Hawaii, where, as my husband pointed out, their fuel has to get shipped to them across the ocean. We have the highest gas taxes in the nation. There are, nationwide, according to some statistics, approximately 560,000 homeless people in the United States, give or take. Of that number, somewhere between 130 to 150 thousand are living on the streets in California, with the greatest concentration of that number living on the streets in Los Angeles, and approximately ten thousand in San Francisco. I’m not going to get into all the gory details of all the so-called “programs” that don’t work and haven’t worked. That they’ve created needle exchange programs, allegedly to help stem the spread of disease, while allowing people to shoot-up right out in the open in BART stations, or that there are outbreaks of typhus and flesh-eating bacteria and diseases society hasn’t had to deal with since Medieval Times, all as a direct result of people living on the street, defecating on the street. I’m not going to get into how we have environmental taxes on everything but these same people who ban plastic grocery bags over and over again, only to allow the plastic bags back into stores if you want to pay for one, or the banning of plastic straws, these same bureaucrats, or environmentalists, or whoever they are, don’t seem to give a damn about all the garbage and human waste that is ending up in our rivers, in our waterways, in the ocean in So-Cal, from the homeless. You can’t have a plastic straw because that’s a threat to the environment or some bird somewhere, but watch where you step because there are needles everywhere and human waste, and an epidemic, and a plague just waiting to happen. Do you know why? Because somewhere someone made a lot of money off the banning of plastic bags, and now they charge for them. Because the needle exchange program is funded by tax dollars. Because it costs less (that means they can keep more) to just keep giving junkies needles and hope for the best, that the problem solves itself one addict at a time, rather than really deal with the problem. Never mind a society that cautions against enabling. But, you can’t smoke a cigarette in a public place now and they’re working on banning vaping, because people don’t what’s good for them. A few years ago there was talk about banning sodas. But, adults in the United States are free, they can do what they want. Right? Every last bit of it, somewhere someone is making a buck. When I quit smoking cigarettes in 1992, a pack of Marlboro Lights was about $2.50. ( They were $1.25 when I started smoking.) Now, the average price of a pack of smokes in California is right around eight dollars a pack. Is that about concerns over second-hand smoke, or health, or radioactive tobacco? The most expensive things in our society seem to be either things that have been deemed to be really bad for us, or really healthy. Some will say that’s the evil of capitalism. I can think for myself. Do you know how much a pair of Levi’s used to go for in the communist Soviet Union, or that jeans were illegal to wear? Let’s just say they went for a lot, sometimes as much as two month’s wages, not to mention the price of bread.
The other side of all that is those who are so deep down fearful in their souls of every little thing that they’ve got to try to micro-manage the behavior of others to the point of panic because junk food is bad and obviously most people are too stupid to know any better themselves and so someone has to step in and stop them from doing themselves further harm with their drinking a six-pack of Cokes a day. There are those for whom freedom is too great a personal responsibility. That doesn’t mean they should have the right to take freedom from the rest of us.
There’s a class system in place in California, likely this is just as true in other places but because of the number of homeless there are in this state it is increasingly obvious. There are the poor, the peasants, the homeless, the lowest class of our society, then there is the so-called “middle class” who are the worker bees of our society, the slaves to the system and within this class of our society there are variations of degrees of comfort, of many luxuries beyond necessity. This is where I’m not going to get into how good people have it and how much many take for granted, that much or our society has confused privileges with rights, and necessities with wants. I’ve realized that I tend to stockpile or hoard certain things that I had to do without while I was growing up, I have a lot of as yet empty notebooks and things like that. I have many cardigan sweaters. I still shop at thrift stores because the other day, I got four pairs of jeans, one of them brand new, and a cute little wall plate for my kitchen, for twenty-three bucks. But now, yes, I can also shop at the mall if I want to, though I don’t know anyone who could make a habit of that. I still tend to prefer Wal-Mart or discount stores. The middle class isn’t wealthy, not by American standards, but they aren’t “poor.” Think about that, in terms of what we do or don’t take for granted, the American idea of what is middle class, even lower middle class, or average middle class, is wealthy by comparison to the standards of living for the average person, family, in most other places in the world. I’ve sometimes thought of the American middle class as the common elite, not wealthy by American standards of wealth, but that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate some of the finer things in life, or at least, possess the intelligence to know what they are. So there is the peasant class, the homeless, the poor, and then there is the middle class, the worker bees, the slaves to the system who generally uphold the system and upon whom both the peasant class and the rich depend. Keep that in mind, the middle-class workers are the pillars that uphold our society, with their labor and their tax dollars. Then there is the ruling class. The extremely wealthy, the landowners, the celebrities, the politicians, the business giants, and so on.
I don’t hate “the rich.” What for, just for being rich? Sure, when I was seven I was pretty pissed off that The Rolling Stones had pizza and cake enough to waste on taking a picture for an album cover while my stomach was empty, but the fact of the matter is that The Rolling Stones being rich or successful had not one thing to do with the fact that I was hungry. I was hungry because my father didn’t make a lot of money and a portion of what he did make consistently went to the purchase of alcohol regardless of any other thing, and my mother wasn’t working at that particular moment. She often took jobs as an apartment manager so we’d catch a break on rent, and so on, but it had nothing to do with the fact that The Rolling Stones were rich, or getting to be. There are a lot of people who think that they themselves are poor because someone else, anyone else, is wealthy. In most cases, in less someone actually took what made them wealthy in some way, swindled their family land or whatever, it just simply isn’t true. Rich people are not the reason there are poor people. But, it’s trendy or it’s vogue to say things like “eat the rich” or “damn the man” without necessarily any thought for the reality of it. I don’t hate the rich or the wealthy or the successful or the idea of being wealthy. In America, the land of opportunity, the idea is that anyone might be able to achieve wealth regardless of how or where they started out in life. In that very thing is an incredibly important word, an important idea, hope.
The land of opportunity, not the land of guarantee. There’s a lot of talk these days about the evils of free-market capitalism. There are many who believe that a socialist way of doing things would be the way to go, that it would make things “fair” for everyone. There’s a lot of misunderstanding as to what those two systems, two ways of doing things, are. I would urge any who are uncertain of those definitions to take the time to educate themselves as to the real meaning of those things, and to the history of how those systems work.
Briefly, socialism is defined as the collective ownership of the means of production and the control of distribution. Well, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Here’s the problem with it, the “collective” ends up being the government. There are those who are actually clamoring to hand over this control to the government. Government controlled ownership of the means of production and distribution is communism. I would suggest taking a look around the world at all the places in the world where communism hasn’t worked out so well. Do you stay up late at night? I do. I’m a night owl from way back. Have you ever seen photos of North Korea at night? It’s kind of pitch black dark there at night, no lights on. When THE PEOPLE no longer control the means of production and distribution they no longer have control, and when THE PEOPLE no longer have control, they begin to rapidly lose their freedoms, until they’ve lost freedom.
Have you ever had government health care? I have. I couldn’t get a decent doctor to see me when all I had was government health care. I had to wait three months to see an endocrinologist at a county hospital that was so filthy there was feces smeared on the walls and the restrooms were so foul they couldn’t be used. When I finally did get seen, I got told that I wasn’t “sick enough” for them to help me, but if it got worse, to take myself to the hospital. When I did end up in the hospital, then, yes, everything was covered. And, I know, that isn’t everyone’s experience and a lot of things have gotten better. I also know there are still people out there who have state-funded health care who are slipping through the cracks. Now, what happens if all health care is run by the government? What if you don’t agree with a treatment you’ve been prescribed? What if you’re sixty-nine years old, still have your wits about you, and decide you don’t want the Chemo, and they tell you that you don’t have a choice? Because why shouldn’t they make that little bit more money off of you before you kick it? I’m baffled by those who on one hand scream and yell at how disenfranchised they are, how poorly they’ve been treated by “the system”, who then seem to want to do nothing other than hand over complete control of their lives… to that same system. You know, old-time family doctors used to make house calls, they were able to really get to know their patients and their families, because they weren’t constantly interfered with by government regulations and insurance liabilities and etc.,etc., etc. Free market capitalism allows for a variety of goods and competition within the market place. What that means is that instead of just one gas station, let’s call it “Govment Oil”, with one fixed price that everyone has no choice but to pay if they want fuel, instead of that, under capitalism, we have Arco stations right across the street from Chevron stations and that means you have a choice as to whether you want to pay $4.25 a gallon, or $4.50. At the Govment Oil stations, all the Govment Oil stations, it’s ten bucks a gallon, and that’s it. At Govment Health Care, perhaps you do what they recommend or you don’t get “help”. Let me also point out here that some of the same people who will argue with you day and night that a woman has the right to manage her own body, will also argue that no one should be allowed to smoke cigarettes.
Those within the ruling class who want so-called socialism, which is really just a front for communism, they do not want to help “the people.” I know that by many these ideas are seen somehow as being more compassionate and perhaps only as ideas, they are. I believe in helping others, I believe in charities that help feed people down on the street level, out of the bureaucracy that gets nothing done. I shop at thrift stores, and I donate. I’ve helped out with local clean-up efforts when I can. But the ruling class that is telling people that socialism is the answer, they aren’t looking to do anything other than widen the gap between themselves and the filth of the peasant class that they’ve allowed to become a plague in the streets. To further insure their own place in the upper class. People seem to have some idea that socialism would make everyone middle class, when in fact it would eliminate the middle class. There is a group of people in between the peasant class and the middle class sometimes called “the working poor.” Socialism would turn everyone in the middle class into the working poor. The wealthy within the ruling class would stay wealthy, their ranks might shrink some, depending on their ability to politic, to lawyer up, to avoid taxations or whatever all, but the ruling class would stay the ruling class, and the middle class would be eliminated, and everyone down here in the ranks would have less. We might all have the same amount of less, if that sounds fair. With the loss of control of the means of production and distribution, of industry, the health care industry being one such industry, comes a loss of freedom. The freedom to say, I want to leave my light on all night. It is my opinion that they want to remove the hope of anyone from down here in the ranks moving up in the world, the threat of the people ever being able to do anything about not being members of the ruling class, or the actions of the ruling class. They’ve already created a worker bee slave to the system middle class that serves both the rich and the poor with appropriated tax dollars. When you’re constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul, at some point Peter runs out of money too. This is the short-sightedness of the so-called confiscation and redistribution of wealth on a mass scale, of socialism and communism. Socialism/Communism would end the hope of freedom for the middle class, removing even the right to disagree.
If you were walking down the street and someone tried to pull you into a game of Three-Card Monte, or some obvious con-man approached you and tried to sell you a bridge where there isn’t any water, or promised you a ticket to the good life and told you “Because hey man, that’s your right and you deserve it, and it won’t cost you a thing!” You’d know you were getting conned. Would socialism provide everything fairly for all the people? Whether it would or it would, the cost is the same, the individual control and freedom of every American.
That’s the right to say NO.
Your opinions may differ, and isn’t it great that in a free country we’re each allowed to have our own opinions.
The Consitution of the United States of America protects the individual rights and freedoms of every American citizen. It was crafted by the founders of this country, with all their faults- and yes it is a bloody history because achieving freedom came at a price and the learning curve was steep, the Constitution was crafted with the understanding of the ruling powers that they had left behind. It was written with the idea that it didn’t matter if you were born into nothing you still had a chance, you still had an opportunity, to rise above your so-called station in life. They offered no guarantees of success or wealth, understanding that such promises are false. It wasn’t the promise of a better life, it was the promise of a chance at a better life, because where they had come from, for the average person, there was not even that, and there was no freedom to worship, no freedom to disagree, no freedom to live, to try, to do, to be. The promise of a chance at a better life, a chance so great that people still fight to get here to have that chance, that’s how great this country truly is, to this day. It troubles me deeply to see any American taking that for granted. They wrote our Constitution to protect the rights inherent to one’s being, existence, ultimately, amended and patched as we grew as a nation, to be one set of rules (generally speaking, in the broadest sense) for every American regardless of gender or the color of one’s skin, because American means American, to protect the citizens of this country, and to the promise of a chance. And they wrote it with the understanding of what happens to the people when the government fails to protect, or honor, or recognize, the rights of its citizens and freedoms are lost, with an understanding of corruption, and a hope that those who came after them would be smart enough to understand the gift they gave us.