They spend it all on liquor

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 3:42 pm by George Smith

“The poor don’t pay enough/They spend it all on liquor.”

I just can’t understand why all the big explainers now examining the hardness of the American heart and economic inequality don’t have a Dick Destiny record.

Not played on NPR, I guess.

From the New York Times:

As the year ends, this argument is playing out in two of the most meanspirited actions left on the table by the least-productive Congress in modern history. The House, refuge of the shrunken-heart caucus, has passed a measure to eliminate food aid for four million Americans, starting next year. Many who would remain on the old food stamp program may have to pass a drug test to get their groceries. At the same time, Congress has let unemployment benefits expire for 1.3 million people, beginning just a few days after Christmas.

These actions have nothing to do with bringing federal spending into line, and everything to do with a view that poor people are morally inferior …

No doubt, poor people drink beer, watch too much television and have bad morals … They are poor because they are weak [reads the ideology].

It’s now to call the United States “Dickensian??? because it’s obvious. It has a mean streak one hundred miles wide.

But it’s combined with an apathy and the talking servant class now all going on about how bad it is (as opposed to the subject of terrorism, which dominated for over a decade as a diversion while domestically conditions were quickly growing worse).

However, none of the explainers have any skin in the game.

Having spent the last three months on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, I can tell you there’s a certain bleakness to filling out numerous university psychology, social science, and political science surveys on inequality in America and one’s attitudes toward who deserves what and the shibboleths of capitalism for 50 cents and 20 minutes to half an hour of work, implemented by tenured professors who earn upwards of 80,000 a year. Regardless of any web eyewash on the subject, no meaningful numbers do this work as a fun hobby or just because they feel like wasting some time on the lap top while watching their favorite evening television shows.

So you can understand any cynicism in the belief that things won’t get better until way more people suffer misery and social disruptions start. Until then, inequality, the mean-spiritedness of right wing extremists and government policy are still too much good as edutainment, fertile ground for scholastic inquiry using crowd-sourcing and the opportunity to wring one’s hands in print from the vantage point of economic security.

Case in point, my representative — Adam Schiff, posted on his Facebook page that the Republican Party was not doing anything to extend unemployment benefits on the recently passed Continuing Resolution government appropriations bill.

Then Schiff went and voted “Yes??? for it, anyway, along with a majority of the Democratic Party in the House.

Did you know how generous corporate America is, at the ground level, right now? A bit rhetorical, I know.

I’ll tell you, anyway. Von’s, part of the national Kroger supermarket chain, perhaps views as local philanthropy the giving away of some of its expired bread at a local food bank I use. I get a loaf or two of it.

What’s it like? Very hard as is stale bread’s nature. You can revive it somewhat with the use of a microwave and watery food or a damp paper towel.

And so for obvious reasons, there’s going to be a fund raiser / tip jar running until after Christmas. It’s been a tough year.

Footnote: If you’ve already pitched in beer/bad morality subsidies, that’s enough, and you have my profuse thanks.


  1. Bill said,

    December 22, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    “No doubt, poor people drink beer, watch too much television and have bad morals … They are poor because they are weak [reads the ideology].”

    It’s my opinion that its origins are in the mantra(s) so many Americans take as self evident i.e. “Land of opportunity” “Wealth through hard work” “The American Dream” and of course my favourite, the doctrine of American Exceptionalism. I don’t think deep down most of these Repubs are particularly bad people, it’s just they have closed their eyes to reality and have believed all that propaganda shoved at them by their media, entertainment and prior generations of politicians.

  2. George Smith said,

    December 23, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Thirty to forty years of it. Bolling had a cartoon on it early last week, dating the slogans/truisms on what is allegedly good for the economy, up to the present.

    I’ve been trying to get up the energy to write up a review on “Slap Shot,” the Seventies movie with Paul Newman as the player coach of the Charlestown Chiefs (modeled on the Johnstown Jets) of western Pennsylvania. It’s a great movie, I have it on old videotape and have been replaying it.

    The perfect picture of what was happening. The steel mill is set to close in “Charlestown,” laying off thousands and the front office see it’s the end for the team and judges this will be the final season. Strother Martin plays the general manager and is making phone calls trying to find a new job and people to buy the team’s old bus. Newman revitalizes the team for the remainder of the season with a stunt, using three comical brothers to attack opposing teams. Every match turns into a brawl and they become winners.
    This in effort to get someone interested in buying the Chiefs. Newman finally confronts the owner, a wealthy woman who admits that the team is making money, but she’s going to shut it down anyway because her accountant says the tax write-off would be better for her bottom line. Newman curses her and asks her to consider the people involved. And she replies, “I don’t think you understand finance.”

    I grew up through that everywhere in Pennsylvania. From the mid-70’s to the 90’s is was one downward unrelenting slump. Things never got better, more jobs were always lost, people made less and less money, there were no moments when anything turned around. Occasionally, because of Presidential propaganda, people felt better about it (Reagan and Clinton).

    Manufacturing went. Aluminum and steel plants closed. I worked in newspapers a bit. Newspapers have been going extinct ever since, layoffs always, less money, less everything.

    Forty years of slump, period. Now it’s the beginning of the end stage. People never wanted to admit it, always full of the bromides on America. My parents were entirely steeped in it, always believing things would get better, that America was the best, even as there was a demonstrable lack of proof as far as anyone could see.

  3. Tom Paterson said,

    December 24, 2013 at 5:46 am

    From the *Letters and emails* page of the print-edition Guardian 23rd December 2013


    Excerpted (bear in mind that the UK uses the terms middle-class & working-class in the Chomskyan way):

    *This is very much a return to the way in which the 19th century thought about a middle class, not as a statistical average but as a group between the great owners of property and the rest of the population. These days the middle class understood as the 10th of households with the highest incomes we know about contains those who assist the plutocracy by managing the rest of us on lower pay and conditions in work, and pensions and benefits when out of work, across the whole of the public and private sectors.*

    Authors: Professor David Byrne (Durham University), Dr Sally Ruane (De Montfort University)

  4. George Smith said,

    December 24, 2013 at 10:06 am

    These days the middle class understood as the 10th of households with the highest incomes we know about contains those who assist the plutocracy by managing the rest of us on lower pay and conditions in work, and pensions and benefits when out of work, across the whole of the public and private sectors.

    I was using a word for that class in the US around the middle of the year: the shoe-shiners. Now I’ve kind of changed it to those in the upper middle class who’ve not yet suffered the pleasure of being made obsolete.

    They also assist in obsoleting and rendering down those below them and of their own until it’s their turn for the chop, facilitators — or the dirty work regiment — for putting others into the waste bin.

    When this starts happening to everyone you’ll have a complete breakdown in trust in society.

    The breakdown in trust is something that was written about by Joseph Stiglitz at the NY Times lately:


    Two quotes stand out.

    It’s hard to know just how far we’ve gone down the path toward complete trust disintegration, but the evidence is not encouraging.

    Economic inequality, political inequality, and an inequality-promoting legal system all mutually reinforce one another.


    I suspect there is only one way to really get trust back. We need to pass strong regulations, embodying norms of good behavior, and appoint bold regulators to enforce them. We did just that after the roaring ’20s crashed; our efforts since 2007 have been sputtering and incomplete.

    “Incomplete” is being gentle. I suspect 2014 will be worse than this year in lots of different ways, primarily because of the midterm election which will bring out the worst and, once again, motivate corporate America and wealth to try and magnify it.

  5. Tom Paterson said,

    December 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    More of my mindless links:






    *Brazil coexists peacefully with all of its South American neighbors and has no enemies elsewhere. The country, however, is eager to fortify its military as it considers the long-term defense of its vast borders and abundant natural resources, including the Amazon rainforest and offshore oil discoveries. “We are a peaceful country, but we won’t be defenseless,” Rousseff said on Wednesday at a lunch with senior officials from Brazil’s military, where she said the announcement was forthcoming. “A country the size of Brazil must always be ready to protect its citizens, patrimony and sovereignty.”*

    And this just in from Suetonius’s Life of Julius Caesarvoss:

    *In Gaul he pillaged shrines and temples of the gods filled with offerings, and oftener sacked towns for the sake of plunder than for any fault. In consequence he had more gold than he knew what to do with, and offered it for sale throughout Italy and the provinces at the rate of three thousand sesterces the pound (about half the usual price).*

    {A sestertius was a silver, later brass, coin.)

    I’m sure it all fits together … somehow.