Saturday, May 30, 2020

Wild In The Streets | Lefsetz Letter

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose

Bob Dylan

How do you lose control of a country?

Slowly, then all at once.

It started with Trayvon Martin in Florida. Then it progressed to Eric Gardner in New York, Michael Brown in Ferguson and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.

And now it’s George Floyd in Minnesota.

We thought the threat was coming from white nationalists, that they’d shoulder their rifles and shoot up the place.

But when these suburban dads showed up at state capitals, the governors and legislators immediately took notice and backed down. The media too. We had to reopen America. It was a silent change.

But when protesters railed against death in Minneapolis?

They government brought out tear gas and rubber bullets.

Because there are more alienated African-Americans than disenchanted whites, because the African-American has been a second-class citizen from day one in America.

Now the right and the Supreme Court want to deny this, they want to whitewash the problem. The Supreme Court said we no longer needed the Voting Rights Act. That blacks in Texas and Georgia and…could register and vote just fine.

But that didn’t turn out to be true.

And then Tucker Carlson criticized the left for talking about race, saying we live in a post-racial society, which is like the slave owner saying the plantation works, and not to complain.

Then Colin Kaepernick takes a knee and becomes a pariah.

But not to the younger generation, getting older and more powerful every day, to them he’s a hero!

The NBA is run by its players. The commissioner thinks twice before issuing any edicts.

The NFL is Maggie’s Farm. They make the rules and you either obey them or you’re out of the game. The players are fungible. After all, it’s not the owners on the gridiron getting brain-damaged. They have their money, they throw the underclass, with its only opportunity for wealth, to the lions…

And people cheer about it.

So, protesters are burning down their own neighborhoods. Of course it makes no sense. It will take years to rebuild, after the ’92 riots in L.A. there was a dearth of supermarkets in South Central.


What does it take for the empowered to take notice and take action?

They charged the killer with third-degree murder quickly, the mob did that.

But the mob has been taking it on the chin for decades.

They were told America is the land of equal opportunity. That we all begin at the same starting line, and if you don’t make it, it’s your fault.

Meanwhile, a white woman calls the cops on a black man in Central Park. And admit it, you tense up when black men get into the elevator with you. We’re all a little racist. And some of us are doing our best to self-adjust. And then we’ve got a President fanning the flames of the haters. How come there aren’t good people on both sides this time Trump, come on, answer me that!

But, this time, there are more of us than there are of them. There just aren’t enough policemen in Minneapolis to quell the dissent. So they’re bringing in the army, the National Guard is a bunch of weekend warriors who when not trigger-happy are scared to death themselves.

But once you start arresting reporters and keeping peace through the armed forces do you still have a democracy?

You see this is what D.C. and the media don’t get. They think Minneapolis and the associated protests in other cities are an isolated event, that will blow over, just like everything else. But that is completely wrong, they are signposts on a continuum.

And we’re close to the end.

The world was rolling along just fine, what problems there were were under the surface, and then Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated and we got the first world war.

Same deal with the Arab Spring. Everything’s hunky-dory, there is control, and then one overeducated fruit vendor sets himself on fire and the government fails. Mohammed Bouazizi paid with his life. Do you think the Floyd protesters are worried about some buildings in their neighborhood?

They tell us to vote.

But what difference does that make? Especially in an era of gerrymandering and voter suppression, especially in an era of one party winning the popular vote and the other getting the presidency via the electoral college. But those are the rules! But if the game is rigged, if you always lose, if you can’t change the rules, you flip over the table.

But the winners of the casino known as life don’t understand this. They don’t understand the sacrifice. They paid their dues, got educated, worked hard, it’s not their fault that George Floyd was killed.

Only it is.

At the top, it’s not about left or right, it’s about power. It’s a club, and you’re not in it. And the way they keep you in check is by telling you to work the system. But the system is flawed and the judges keep letting the game play on whenever we cry foul.

Two steps forward and one step back.

The civil rights acts of the sixties freed black people, but it also institutionalized racial hatred in whites.

Same deal with efforts to level the playing field of education. Busing, affirmative action… After a few years went by, the whites were up in arms, their chances were being taken away! And if they couldn’t get the rules changed, they too worked the system. By educating their children in private schools, and tutoring them into the best colleges, which they could pay for. And then Betsy DeVos wants public money to go to these private schools, which inherently leaves less for the disadvantaged, who are told that vouchers will save them. Everybody can’t migrate to the mountaintop, there’s not enough room, many people are going to drown at the bottom.

But they’re poor African-Americans living on welfare having too many kids driving expensive cars so screw ’em.

Even though the real welfare crime is all the money the energy companies and other fat cats get in tax breaks, if not direct handouts,

But that’s not a sexy story, and the underclass doesn’t control the media.

Which brings us to social media. The past week has been inundated with words about the flaws in social media. But what I don’t get is without social media, most of these people wouldn’t even have a voice! It’s like the musician who made his album on his laptop and distributed it for free on Spotify via Songtradr complaining that they’re not getting advances from the major labels or making money from streaming. You only get to play, you only get a voice from the internet.

Which is what makes this story different from what came before.

Oldsters are watching television.

Youngsters see the pictures and video on the internet. They comment on it, they read others’ comments.

Meanwhile, you think the internet is only about showing off.

Instagram is cool. But Twitter, a hotbed of ideas? IT MUST GO!

So, did you really think the rich could get richer for four decades and there would be no consequences?

Did you really think you could ship all the jobs overseas and the suddenly out of work employees wouldn’t feel the pain?

You’ve got an iPhone.

See a lot of iPhones amongst the underclass?

No, it’s all Android, because they’re struggling, they can’t afford Apple.

And since they’ve got a smartphone and flat screen, you think they’ve got enough. But they don’t.

Meanwhile, all the established do is continue to cut the safety net.

And the Democrats are complicit too. Never forget that Bill Clinton slashed welfare. But now, representatives of the underclass, the abused, those without a good future support Bernie Sanders and he’s taken down by the establishment. Oh, come on. All the news outlets, “The New York Times” and MSNBC and…James Carville and the DNC said we couldn’t afford Medicare for all and corporations can’t be taxed and controlled and we must run an insider, who can play the game.

And then the outsiders blow up the game.

This has been a long time coming. And it’s not about control. You can’t control hearts and minds, no way, didn’t we learn that in Vietnam?

But now history is being rewritten, the talking heads and the books say the sixties were an aberration, that the damn hippies screwed everything up, that that war was winnable and…

It’s disinformation all the time.

But now the disadvantaged have cameras in their phones and they can spread the word online and…

This is just the beginning, when the dust settles in a few days it will not be over, it’s just a harbinger of what’s to come.

Now the sad thing is after revolution often comes autocracy. The stay at homes are fearful, they want law and order. So, we get Nixon in ’68. We get all the Eastern European autocrats.

Meanwhile, Trump keeps praising these dictators.

The problem with Trump is he doesn’t know the people. Today the upper classes do their best to never interact with the rest of the public. They live behind gates. They see an occasional servant, but they do not have friends who are working for a living, who are trying to make ends meet on minimum wage as Bezos and the Waltons get ever richer.

The only way the unrest can be addressed is by giving to those with less.

But that’s never gonna happen. Because that means the empowered will have to sacrifice. And they’re not gonna give up one damn thing. A litmus test…is it all right for your kid to go to the state school because an inner city black or Latino took their place at the Ivy? I don’t think so!

Deny all I’ve said. Attack me personally. Spin fantasies you heard on Fox and the dark web. Talk all you want about the need for peace, the need to keep immigrants and minorities down. But it won’t make a bit of difference.

You see the protesters are fighting on what they feel. You know, your gut, your instincts. The spin slides right by them. They’ve taken it up the rear end for years, and now they’ve reached their limit. Black people have shorter life expectancies than whites. Why? BECAUSE OF HEALTH CARE! Can you afford to go to the doctor, can you afford insurance?

Oh, don’t nitpick. That’s what the right has been doing for decades as it tries to drown the government in the bathtub. Saint Reagan said the government was the problem and that is written in stone, just as powerful and lasting as the Bible.

But then, we have a pandemic and we’re unprepared.

But now Trump is saying he did a great job!

This only works in the echo chamber of mainstream news. If you’re working at the grocery store, if you’re delivering food, if you put your life on the line every damn day, if you know people who’ve died, that’s your truth, no matter what anybody else says.

So fire your slings and arrows, your emails and tweets. Won’t make a damn bit of difference. You’re a professional commenter, you’re working the refs 24/7, you have a voice because of the internet and you don’t want anyone else to be able to have one, never mind have a louder one.

But this isn’t about the internet either.

This is about a society that looked the other way for four decades, that said it was too poor to care about people while billionaires were minted and lionized and the upper class pulled so far away from everybody else that there was no way to bridge that gap. Hey you, out there! You boomer! You Gen-X’er! You worked damn hard to get into a good college, you became a professional, and now even you are left out! You can’t afford the concierge doctor, you can’t get a good seat at the restaurant, you can’t afford the luxury vacation spot.

There are more of us than there are of them.

And if you really think the white militias are gonna start shooting at the underclass, you don’t realize that they’re their brethren. They’re all losing out. They’re just blaming it on different people.

You cannot steal constantly from the jar without running out of cookies.

You cannot price fast food cheaper than healthy food and not expect the underprivileged to get fat and have diabetes.

You cannot screw the same people year after year without pushback.

We did not expect it to go down this way.

And we did not expect it to happen now.

Trump skirted impeachment and the DNC anointed Biden. The lanes were clean, the choices were clear, everybody thought it was about an election.

But if you have faith that electing Biden will put food on your table, will get Wells Fargo not to screw you, then you’re delusional.

But the people protesting are not delusional. They know more truth than those in government and media. The bottom line is America is not working for them anymore. And they are sick and tired of being abused.

Shoot the messenger, go ahead. I hope it makes you feel good, because it won’t make a bit of difference.

The upper class, the media, the government have lost control.

And according to the protesters, it’s about time.

Meet the new boss.

The music industry was disrupted by Napster. Could it control its customers? NO! It had to adjust to them, damn the old business model.

For twenty years we were enraptured by the tech titans. But those days are through.

Now it’s about ideas, not widgets, not algorithms.

It’s about people, not bots.

Mark Zuckerberg is not prepared. In fact, he’s blind, like most of the people in the government.

They think they have all the power.

But they don’t.

It’s morning in America. Wake up and smell the burnt coffee.

It was a new day yesterday, but it’s an old day now.


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