Benevolent Overlords

Here’s a Thanksgiving story to warm your heart — an Ohio Walmart has set up a food donation box for those who can’t afford to have a proper turkey day meal.

Those poor souls in need?  Walmart employees themselves.

There’s been plenty of analysis and/or snark about this.

I’d only add two things.  First, do our Randian/Republican ultra-capitalist overlords really think that France ca. 1848, or Russia ca. 1917, or China ca. 1945, or Phnom Penh ca. 1975, came about because a bunch of filthy, lazy hippies woke up one morning and decided to take a great big poop all over the generous benefits of the glorious free-market system?

I actually think they do.  I actually think that in their little minds “class warfare” really is all about resentment towards our supposed betters and nothing else.  It has nothing to do with structural imbalances of wealth, services, and above all, opportunity for advancing in life.

But it’s worth reminding them that revolutions tend to come about when poor people realize they have nothing left to lose, and that no amount of voting or picketing or simple outrage is going to ever make their situations improve.

Second, on a more personal note, I once taught at a private high school back in the States.  The year was coming to an end and I remember being asked to make a donation.  To the local orphanage?  To UNICEF?  No, to the school itself, where I barely got paid more than the annual tuition.  I told the administrator in charge of the fund drive that I didn’t give two fucks whether or not we got to build a new basketball court and, well, I wasn’t long for that place.

Granted, I’d already made up my mind that it was time to move on.  However, I didn’t have kids or a mortgage like a lot of my co-workers did (although the younger teachers were definitely all renters), and I’ll never forget that palpable sense of resignment, bordering on terror, with which they duly coughed up a hundred dollars each.

Obviously I’ve never experienced true poverty like many (most?) Walmart employees do, but it was one of those moments of clarity.  The rich truly are different from you and me.

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