Henry Giroux’s new article, Protesting Youth in an Age of Neoliberal Savagery, in Truthout.org, points out the savagery of living in an era where government is largely replaced by private ownership of the public good, while demanding ever greater powers and lack of any regulations. Such a society guarantees an austere and unequal society in which a permanent class of haves and have-nots will be entrenched in our society. In my book, Take the Pilgrim Road, the reader is introduced to a future society in which the unemployed weren’t even counted anymore, welfare was almost nonexistent, homelessness was outlawed and society had deteriorated into an urban feudalism. Redd Piper had the answer. Make the people who actually do the work owners of their jobs. Imagine when the youth, the have-nots, the long-term unemployed rallied together, calling themselves pilgrims, form cooperatives. You don’t need government’s permission, or permission from the corporate powers. You just need to pool your resources together and create your own store, factory, warehouse, health clinic, restaurant, grocery store, bank, etc. Think it’s all a pipe dream? Check out Mandragon in the Basque region of Spain where a miracle is in progress in one of those European countries suffering under austerity.
Are you tired of dysfunctional government? Got the feeling that rich lobbyists run things? Looking for a better solution to what’s wrong in America? Then you’ve come to the right place. So relax, take your shoes off, grab a hot cocoa or cup of Joe, and start reading. I got plenty on my mind and I’d like a piece of your mind too.
Imagine a government that answers only to a small group of people, calling themselves NOGOV. Their goal is a government answerable only to them. They want to eliminate all government spending except for essential services. The result is a catastrophic rise in unemployment. The American dream for most of the population died. Then one man, Redd Piper, figured out a way to get rich using the unemployed. The people who went back to work called themselves pilgrims, following Redd Piper’s call to work. NOGOV didn’t like that. The result was a battle for all out victory. Who’s dream would last: NOGOV and their followers or the pilgrims? Check out the book trailer Get it now from Amazon.com I want to see more about the book. Here is a sneak peak–Chapter 1.
|In the twilight of our glory, the sad longings of dreams gone by wither on the vines of our heritage. In the throes of a malignancy, casting a pall over the Lady of the Harbor, we send forth no clarion call for the world’s hungry and poor. We replaced our open arms for barriers to their entry, and we replaced the streets we paved with gold for the residue of broken dreams we exported back to the huddled masses. This land of opportunity has become a bastion of bellicose ballyhoos blasting one another’s ideas into oblivion. Truth is its greatest casualty. We don’t seek truth to bring minds together; we use it as fuel to blow them asunder.|
Did Apollo cast his malignant arrow at our upstart nation? Or did our own success poison us? Are we the withering Empire of Rome? Or did we just lose our soul along the way? Our government ceased to be a democracy. No one knows when that happened and most would deny it anyway. The government that was owned by its citizens came to look upon its constituents as customers in the grandest corporate takeover ever. Chosen by the few and elected by the many, it served the fewer, with the beguiled masses convinced that it’s better this way. We have a new kind of government, run as a business in the interest of business. Government has ceased to be a leader, creating order out of chaos. The new government brings the chaos. The American Party says government must cease to be a friend to the poor and the hungry. If one is poor and hungry, it’s one’s own fault. Let him find help in the church. Government must be used to protect the interests of the wealthy, for they create wealth. Individuals don’t need government. Let them be enterprising and thrifty and full of spunky responsibility. If one finds he is in need of a job, let him create one, of his own resourcefulness. The American Party is the the stalwart party the nation would look to for leadership. They had the answers. Their opponents, the Populist Party, had all the problems according to the prevailing thought. Some people would say if we could get rid of the Populists we’d get rid of the problems too. There is a city on a hill overlooking one of the grand lakes at the northwest outskirts of Detroit, Michigan. Its denizens call it Miracle City. It’s a small, feisty town of some fifteen thousand thrifty and hard-working people, with a strong sense of responsibility. They were the epitome of America in the new era; hard-working, industrious, and concerned with only one thing—getting rich! At the crest of Mulligan Hill stands a grand two-story red brick colonial owned by the Piper family. Its patriarch is Phillip, the son of his more famous and industrious father, Jonathan. Phillip was brought up to take over his father’s company after he retired, but things changed. His overly ambitious son Redmond was touched by the prickly finger of fate, and given a destiny that would change the world. Redmond Piper’s alarm went off at precisely seven o’clock, and he was in the shower and dressed in his Renois jeans, button down shirt and Louie Voutan shoes, while listening to ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man. “Not bad for a kid of ten,” he said to his brother Henry, as he stood in front of the bathroom mirror. Henry was comfortable in t-shirt, jeans with holes at the knees, and an old pair of sneakers. At the age of eight, he fit right in with the crowd. He looked up to his older brother. “You gonna start that lawn business, Redd?” “You bet, Henry. Always remember this—if you can imagine it, it can happen.” “Dad give the ok on that?” Henry asked. “He will.” They both hurried down to breakfast. Already sitting there was his father, Phillip, their mother, Greta, and their sister, fifteen year old Pamela. “You look liked such a dork,” Pamela said to Redd. She felt stylish in her multicolored hair of red and purple with rings in her nose, chin, and navel, which always could be seen with her tank top. “I think he looks so handsome,” said mom. Greta was a trophy wife for Phillip. A Dartmouth graduate, she was brought up with a refined culture and a pre-arranged marriage into the Piper family. She was tall and slender with a long neck that gave her a stately appearance. Greta managed the household and was particularly proud of her eldest son. “Don’t you dear?” continued Greta, addressing her husband, who’s nose was buried in the morning paper. Phillip just muttered something unintelligible from behind the newspaper. Phillip wanted to imitate his father, Jonathan, who loved his children and especially Phillip. He would nurture the boy, and saw to it he got into his alma mater at Yale. Phillip was a good student. He was tall and slender at 40, eventually worked in his father’s factory, but could never get any higher than the assistant to the Vice President of Manufacturing at Piper Motors Corporation. He believed he was destined to take over the company, but the Board of Directors had frozen Phillip out, without his knowledge of course. “Dad, can I have the lawn mower Saturday?” said Redd. Phillip just muttered something no one understood, and then said, “Look at that, would you,” talking to no one in particular. “Royal Motors is laying off 10,000 workers. It says here that auto sales have slowed to a five year low. I’ll tell you something boys—a fellow could make a lot of money if you could figure out how to use all those unemployed people. Yessiree! There’s always money to be made out of tragedy.” Redd just listened to his father’s little pearls of business wisdom and mused to himself, boy could I have a real lawn service with all those guys. At school, Redd sat in the first row and always had his hand raised. If he were a nerdy kid he’d probably get beat up a lot, but Redd was one of the tallest kids in class, a natural athlete, and certainly the smartest kid. Everyone wanted to be his friend because he could get most anything he wanted, and would always help his friends with homework and stuff. “Reed, you ready for Saturday?” said Redd during recess. “Yeah, you get the lawnmower?” Redd said he did although he didn’t quite get dad’s permission just yet. This was just a technicality to the lad. He figured he’d just thank dad for his approval and trust he wouldn’t get an argument about it. Reed’s real name was Dean Sulke. Dean was a gangly fellow with wiry glasses, whose father was a staunch conservative. Dad never wasted a day without preaching to his son about responsibility. Now he could demonstrate his father’s lesson with Redd’s lawn business. “My dad said you need a business license if you want to do any lawn work,” said Paulie, when Redd asked him if he was ready. “Nah,” said Redd. “We’re just kids.” Well, Saturday came and three of Redd’s friends met him in front of the Piper house. Reed would bring clippers and an edge trimmer and do all the hedges and assorted trimmings. Paulie Markel would pick up all the cut grass and dump it out after doing the edging. Harold Zinney, an older boy, would cut the grass with a hand mower, while Redd would cut the large back yard with the riding mower. Redd figured he could do the work for half the price of the professional lawn services, and do a better job of it to boot. “What’s our schedule?” said Harold. “Well, I thought we’d start with The Lund residence,” said Redd. He’s always complaining about his lawn service.” “Wait! Are you saying we don’t have a scheduled appointment?” asked Paulie. “Well, not exactly.” “Not exactly means no,” said Harold. “Redd, I don’t want to be walking around the neighborhood all day. What if they all have a lawn service and don’t want to deal with us?” “Yeah, Redd,” said Reed. “You promised us we’d each make ten dollars for a few hours’ work today. Now we don’t have a single house we can count on.” “Relax fellas. You’ll make your money. Come on. We’ll start with the Lund’s.” “Hello, Mr. Lund.” “Hello boys. May I help you with something?” “No, Mr. Lund. It is we that want to help you with your lawn. We promise to mow your lawn, rake the leaves, trim your bushes, and give you the best looking lawn in town for just twenty dollars.” Then turning to address Reed, “You get the trimmer. Harold, you get—” “Whoa! Whoa, boys! I don’t need my lawn done again. I have a company that does it every two weeks.” “Mr. Lund, I figured that,” said Redd, “but may I ask how much do they charge?” “A little more than you, fellas.” “Yet, they don’t trim the branches of your trees. The bushes need trimming too. By the looks of it, sir, they mostly just cut the grass. We do that and so much more.” Mr. Lund just smiled and shook his head. He stared at Redd and the boys and said, “Well, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you ten dollars now, and if I’m satisfied I’ll give you the other ten; but only if I’m satisfied.” “Sure thing, Mr. Lund.” Then Redd shook his hand. Redd, Harry and Reed did a terrific job, but Paulie Markel, a shorter boy who was a chronic complainer, needed help. He was slow at raking up the mowed grass and downright lousy at edging. Harry redid his edge work and Reed helped with the raking. Well, after a couple of hours, the lawn looked fantastic and Mr. Lund had to admit it. He gave Redd the other ten dollars, and the boys offered to come by every Saturday to maintain the lawn for ten bucks. Lund thought it over a bit. He liked the boys and didn’t care for the Spanish chatter of the Gonzales Lawn Service. He then smiled and said, “Well, boys, we’ll give it a try for a little while.” The boys all cheered and went to the next house. By six o’clock, they had done three houses and got a commitment to do the Lund home each week. They didn’t get assurances from the other two houses, but Redd figured next Saturday they’d try some more places. The boys got their promised ten dollars and Redd walked away with almost twenty. Things were going exceptionally well—until the lawyer came. “Mr. Piper?” “Yes. What can I do for you?” “Mr. Piper, my name is Javy Gonzales. I’m an attorney representing the Gonzales Lawn Service. May I talk to you? It’ll only take a few minutes.” A bewildered Phillip Piper let him come in, and after a few pleasantries, Gonzales got down to business. “Mr. Piper I’m here about your son’s lawn business.” “His lawn business? Well, I knew he was talking about something like that, but I didn’t know he was actually doing anything. He’s an enterprising lad. I guess he gets that from me. Well, what’s wrong?” “My cousin came to me saying that these kids were taking away his business. Mr. Piper, I’m sure you can understand my cousin and his men worked hard to get their business going. It’s quite expensive. You have to buy the equipment, train the men and advertise.” “Actually, I don’t understand. It seems that my boy just out-competed you…well, your cousin.” “Mr. Piper, they’re minors. Now I understand a young boy wanting to make some money, and I don’t object to that, but they’re building a business. They have no license, no insurance, not even a company name.” “Well, it’s as you say, they’re just kids. I’m sure this won’t last past the summer.” “But Mr. Piper, the summer is when my cousin and other lawn companies make their money. Now this is just a courtesy call, sir. I hope you understand. I don’t mind the boys doing some of the trimming work in their neighborhood, but they’re undercutting my cousin. Please talk to your son about this.” “Oh yeah, sure. Well, thank you for coming.” Phillip thought about this for a while. Should he call Redd down now? He didn’t want to discourage his son, but he didn’t want him to get into trouble either. He decided to talk to Tom Crawly, the company lawyer, and find out what the law actually says. “Hi, Phil. What’s up?” “Thanks for seeing me, Tom.” Phillip explained what that Gonzales fellow said about his son’s lawn business. “Well, Phil, he’s got a point. My advice is to do what Gonzales suggested. It’s either that or you’ll have to become the proprietor of your son’s business. That means going down to the capital and getting a business license, picking a name for the company and getting some insurance. You’ll also want to supervise the lawn service.” “Oh Tom, I don’t really want to get involved.” “I don’t blame you. So let the boys do a little work around the homes near you. It’ll give them some spending money and teach them a little about business.” That night Phillip came home, took off his coat, marched into the study, stood there a moment and then yelled upstairs, “Redmond Phillip Piper! Downstairs, front and center!” Upstairs, Henry looked up at Redd with a big grin. “Sounds like dad found out about the lawn business.” “It’s okay. I’ll let dad think he thought of it.” “I’m going down with you and watch the master work.” The two walked down the stairs, nonchalantly, and then entered the study. “Yeah, dad. What’s up?” “Why didn’t you tell me you started a lawn business?” “I did, dad. Remember, we talked about it.” “I remember talking about it, but I don’t remember approving it.” “Well, dad, you’re always telling me about responsibility and taking charge and—” “Cut the shit, Redd—and Henry don’t you have something to do?” “Yeah, dad.” Henry scrambled out of the room, but not outside hearing distance. Redd and his father just stared at each other; each waiting for the other to speak first. “This Gonzales guy showed up here last night. These Gonzales people were really pissed off at you. Their cousin, the lawyer, said he better not catch you stealing his customers anymore.” “The Gonzales’ have a lawyer cousin?” “Yeah, so?” “These guys always seem to have a lot of cousins.” “Knock it off, Redd. Now don’t go hunting down anymore business, and confine your work to just trimming trees or bushes or doing edge work; whatever the professionals aren’t doing. And stick to just the homes around here. You’re too young to be running a business. You’re just ten years old for Christ sake.” Redd’s lawn service lasted all of one summer when the boys got tired of it. They weren’t making that much money anyway, and with the fall, there wasn’t much work to do. Some of their customers had them do some paint jobs, but only Redd was doing any work now. By the time the boys reached high school, Harold Zinney was getting interested in politics. He was the eldest of the four friends and destined to graduate high school as class valedictorian. He would be going on to Michigan State University to study philosophy. Redd caught up to Harold just outside school, as Harold headed home. “Philosophy? Are you crazy?” as Redd turned to his friend. “How are you going to make any money? What…you think you’re Socrates or something?” “I’m going to get my degree and then go on to graduate school. I’ll get a PhD and then teach.” “Well, I’ll tell you, Harry, I’m going to be a business tycoon. Yessiree! That’s where the money is.” “I’m sure you’ll be really successful at it. You’ve got a natural aptitude for business, but that isn’t me. I love learning new things and then teaching them to others. You know money isn’t everything. In fact, there are as many unhappy rich people as in the general public. Now why should that be?” “I don’t know, but money buys opportunities. If you’re doing something that makes you unhappy, then the rich guy can just do something else.” “But suppose the thing that brings wealth is also the thing that makes him unhappy?” Redd didn’t have an answer for that, mainly since it never occurred to him that making money could make anyone unhappy. “Well, to each his own, I guess.” The two friends parted. Later that evening when the boys were doing their homework, Greta came into the living room and sat beside Phillip, who was staring at a blank television screen. “There’s trouble at the plant,” Phillip mumbled. “Oh dear!” exclaimed his wife. “What could possibly be wrong?” “Oh, there’s nothing wrong,” said Phillip. “Then, what do you mean?” “I mean that things aren’t all that they seem. Everything’s too perfect. Something’s afoot my dear. It’s in the air. I can feel it. It clings to me like a wet blanket. It’s like what Shakespeare said, ‘Hell is empty and all the devils are here’.” “That’s from the Tempest, isn’t it dear?” “Yes, that’s it. A tempest is brewing.” Greta looked concerned. She didn’t understand what Phillip meant. “Is the motor company in trouble?” Phillip just stared at the dark screen, and after a pause, “No, I don’t think it has anything with the company, but with me. I think I’m no longer in the picture. Redd is.” “Redd!” gasped Greta. “What does a fourteen year old boy have to do with you or the company?” “Everything!” exclaimed Phillip. “He’s their future. It was me, but not anymore. I don’t think they’re going to move me. I think they’re keeping the boss’ chair warm for Redd.”
Get it from Amazon today.
John Johnston, an Indiana Republican, says that we have to treat the poor like a father to a child. You have to take things away from them in order to motivate them to take care of themselves. It is typical of conservative elitism that unemployment, low income, and homelessness is a choice; not an outcome to a seriously dysfunctioning society.
CNN’s America’s middle class: Poorer than you think, reported that the wealth of the Middle Class is near the bottom of the developed world. The blog site cited job loss, loss of unions and decline of homes. Do you think we could use Redd Piper about now, pilgrims?
Truthout interviewed Henry Giroux about the future of democracy. Check out the article.
Once again I point out the similarities of the corporatist agenda in Take the Pilgrim Road. They took over the government, the media, and the economy, yet this was a work of fiction. So much of what Giroux said in the interview almost sounded like this work of fiction.
Phillip Puckett, the state senator from Virginia is reportedly going to resign in order to take a position as Deputy Director of the State Tobacco Commission. Now these things happen, but it’s how it happened that smells of one of the most corrupting things going on in government. According to Talking Points Memo, the GOP persuaded Puckett to step down in exchange for the offer. This would give the Republicans a majority in the Senate, which they could use to prevent a state expansion of Medicaid.
This is exactly the sort of thing NOGOV would do in Take the Pilgrim Road. But that was a work of fiction. This is real. What does this say about the state of democracy in the real United States of America? UPDATE: According to the Daily Kos Puckett decided not to take the job as well as his daughter who was supposed to get a judgeship. No word on if he’s still leaving the Senate.
Here is Chapter One:
Chattanooga has introduced one gigabit per second internet speeds. These are about fifty times as fast as typical internet speeds in the United States. And the truly amazing thing about it is it is a government program. Private companies are fighting them, however, and twenty states already have restrictions preventing municipalities from offering better internet service.
Sounds a lot like what Redd Piper went through to get his cooperatives off the ground. Corporations don’t like competition.
According to new employment numbers, from the AP, the number of employed people is now equal to the pre-recession number of unemployed. That part is great, but the quality of the new jobs created since the beginning of 2008 is poorer, that is less well-paying than those jobs were, and we still have 6.3 % of the work force is unemployed. Furthermore, we have about a million fewer jobs in manufacturing. We are becoming a nation of service workers. Another report that should be good news is that robots are doing more and more of the routine, unskilled work in manufacturing. This results in increased productivity, but as we have seen from some of my prior blogs that increased productivity hasn’t resulted in higher wages. Wages have been stagnant since the late seventies as productivity has steadily increased.