I was raised during the 70s and 80s in Washington State’s poorest neighborhood, Hillyard. There we lived under the shadow of B-52s thundering in and out of Fairchild Air Force Base at the end of the Cold War. My awareness of economics and finance was formed by Reaganomics rhetoric juxtaposed with visits to the food bank and buying groceries with food stamps. I was horrified by two thoughts: nuclear war and a life of poverty.
I couldn’t do much about nuclear war, but I thought I could do something about avoiding poverty. I did everything I could to earn money from a very early age. I mowed lawns, shoveled snow and delivered newspapers until I turned 14 and then I got a special work permit from the City of Spokane. This permit, based on family need, allowed me to start working in a factory that made recycling equipment. The letter of recommendation I received from that first job is still one of my most prized possessions. I went on to work my way through Gonzaga Preparatory School on work study and then to Spokane Community College and finally to earn a degree in journalism from the University of Montana.
But one of the things I learned at UM was that the character of journalism changed as it morphed from a vocation into a profession. When it transformed from an industry staffed by the working class into a field staffed by college-educated kids from middle-class backgrounds, the tone changed. Based on this and my ability to reason, I don’t think objective journalism is possible.
I’ve worked in the media for a number of years and am very aware that, even if journalists have transcended their biases, they still answer to news directors, editors, owners of the corporations that employ them and mainly, sponsors.
There is no “the truth” — there is my truth and your truth and sometimes they are similar. That our politicians use identical facts to support opposing truths proves this. The result is that they have kept American neighbor hating American neighbor for decades.
I will be writing this column in the Helena Vigilante as an avocation, because I love America and Americans. My vocation is field producer for a top big-game safari hunting show. I worked very hard to achieve the American Dream. I spend much of my year in very elite hunting camps with very wealthy people and, while I was raised poor and used social services, I listen to their perspectives. I own guns. I hang a flag in front of my house each morning when it’s not raining and I take it down each night. I’ve been all over the world and am very clear that I have more opportunities in the U.S.A. than I would have anywhere else in the world.
But I also believe that the American working class is getting crushed and eliminated.
There is an old joke in hunting camp that goes, “Hunting is the only sport where the other team doesn’t know it’s playing.”
But I think this also applies to the class war taking place in America today.
I hear over and over from the elite in hunting camp that any reference to “fairness” in our economy is simply a euphemism for socialism. This strikes me as 1984 doublespeak. One team is on steroids while the other is not, but when we ask for simple fairness in our opportunities (the ability to achieve the American Dream of prosperity that benefits all), we are called socialists.
If I go steal a tank of gas from BP in order to save/accumulate wealth, I will be prosecuted harshly. Yet the executives of Transocean are not prosecuted and in fact receive bonuses after the deaths of 11 workers due to negligence motivated by the desire to save/accumulate wealth.
My truth says this is not fair.
I am currently facing foreclosure on a home in Minnesota because my renters turned into squatters. I paid $112K, but it is listed now at $75K and won’t sell. I will be paying for this collapse in the market for decades, but the people responsible for the collapse in the market were bailed out and despite a lack of ethics and illegal behavior will never face prosecution or any real consequences. In fact, as we all know, they received great bonuses.
Am I a socialist or just reasonable? What does your truth say?
Andrew Young phrased my position well: “Socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.”
Even Andrew Jackson — who I’m not a fan of because of his war on Indians — saw banks privatizing profits and socializing losses when he closed the Second Bank of the United States in 1834.
“I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States,” he said. “I have had men watching you for a long time and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank…You are a den of vipers and thieves.”
I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. My truth says there is no party in America for people who show up and work. This column will be about observing and analyzing local economic and financial news from the perspective of a capitalist and a very hard-working American who achieved the American Dream and feels it being pulled away on a very tilted playing field.
I am your neighbor and I am more interested in our similarities and our prosperity and success in fulfilling the needs of our families than I am in battling it out on the internet with you. I have my truth, you have your truth — where they overlap, let’s work together.
The media and the politicians have kept us at one another’s throats for long enough while they looted. It’s time for us to enter a conversation in a civilized and reasonable way.