Thursday, October 16, 2008

No "Average" Joe

Dear Senator McCain,

Allow me to introduce myself: I'm Not Joe Average.

I am a guy who has spent his whole life working very hard at every job he has had. I have tried to live a frugal life. I have not spent my time squandering money on things, but on the necessities of life like cars, a home, food, and clothes. And even then I do everything I can to save money. And yet...

Other than a house and a car, I have nothing substantive. I have no retirement savings. Every dime I have earned has had to go to paying someone for something I needed or was honor-bound to pay for (property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, etc.). I have no money set aside for college for my children. There's no rainy day fund -- my savings account is empty, sucked dry every time a new unforeseen expense comes up. And there are a lot of those...

You see, I work in IT, and well, those pesky companies I end up working for inevitably figure out that it's cheaper for someone in India to do my job at one-third the price, so they end up laying me off. So, inevitably I am trying to live on unemployment insurance, while the money I would have put into Social Security and Medicare and health insurance is going overseas, where it does no one in this country any good.

So when you say you'd like to help Joe "The Plumber" get his plumbing business, I can't help but wonder: when are you going to help me? I figure Joe, being a plumber, is making good money. If he is making good money, and he's smart about his credit, he should be able to go to a bank for a loan to help him buy that business.

Oh wait.

Silly me.

The banks don't want to lend anyone any money! Seems they've fallen on hard times, something about a housing bubble. I seem to have read it in the papers.

So I guess Joe is out of luck. Unless you would care to write him a check?

Didn't think so.

Because after him would come me, and then after me would come someone else, and after them another person, and so on. Pretty soon, you'd be... well... poor.

Then again, you might lend Joe the money, but not the rest of us. We're not living the American Dream, right? Because we're not running out and trying to buy businesses or large-screen plasma TVs, or because we think it's possible that a woman should get paid equal to men for the same work, or we think that not getting pregnant is a far better idea than having abortions or giving kids up for adoption, or possibly because we know that drilling for more oil is a fool's bargain that will have little impact on our dependence on foreign oil.

Perhaps we're not real Americans.

So what is it, Senator? What are we to you? Demographic groups to pander to? To frighten? To lie to in the vain hope that we won't notice? What?

I'll tell you what we are.

We are Americans tired of promises that lead to the same-old Washington messes. We are tired of watching the Federal government squander our money on wars and weapons while it leaves its own citizens to live in squalor and poverty in ever-increasing numbers. We are tired of a political machine which greases the wheels of the "big shots" on Wall Street to the point of handing them a big check written out of our checkbooks, while doing precious little to fix what caused the problem in the first place. We are tired of hearing how wonderful everything will be when you cut taxes on the rich and all that money will trickle down into our pockets. We are tired of people trying to foist their morality on us and expecting us to like it. We're tired of pandering and glad-handing.

And we're angry.

Oh yes we are, Senator, but not in the way you think. We are angry at you, you and your friends in the political establishment who have spent years peddling influence and paying lip service to the true problems in this country. Our anger is incandescent at the thought of losing our homes and our savings and our retirement funds because the people on Wall Street could not contain their greed. Our anger is a subtle, seething rage at how you stand there in all your glory, making your opponent seem as if he is untrustworthy, when it is you and your allies who have fabricated, prevaricated, and obfuscated to score points with a citizenry that, below the surface, is frightened at the thought of a black man becoming their President.

You make us angry. You represent some of the worst facets of our society. You stand for unreason, for faith before logic, for the rich getting richer on the backs of those who have already given all they have and all they can. You act as if you are owed something for all you have given this country. If that is so, then what are we owed? When do we get what's coming to us? When does out torture stop? Torture in the form of not knowing from one day to the next whether we will have a job, a home, or even our personal freedoms. When does that end?

I'll tell you when. Mark it down on your calendar: November 4th.

That is the day we, Americans all, cast our ballots, and when the vast majority of us, reasoning, honest, hard-working citizens, cast our votes against you and for someone who is actually interested in us and our welfare. The day that we sweep away the old, the stale, and let in a breath of fresh air, redolent with new ideas and hope. A day long overdue.

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