Saturday, April 04, 2009

3 Chords & the Truth: Feel like a number

Hard times keep calling us back.

Calling us back to explore the subject one more time, at least, on 3 Chords & the Truth. Why not? We're in them . . . just as well plumb the depths of where we find ourselves.

What interests me this go around is the death of "livin' large." Or the death of that notion for some -- the ones not taking the bonus money and running. If you listen to the news, or the cultural zeitgeist, you can be forgiven for thinking we all were riding high . . .
and then something happened.

THE TRUTH is more complicated. Truth is, the American Dream has been under assault for the better part of two generations. For that long, great American industries have been on the skids, and the Americans who worked in them have been progressively thrown away.

Now we watch as the government goes about
"shuttin' Detroit down" -- which may or may not be a mercy killing -- and the loss of industrial jobs kicks into overdrive. Pedal to the metal.

Used to be, you could work in a factory (or plant) make a good wage, support your family, send the kids to college, then retire with a comfortable pension. Used to be.

Global competition and the quest for short-term returns killed that notion dead. We've thrown away workers' security, and now we're busily throwing away the workers themselves.

Job retraining, in too many cases, is learning to say "Would you like fries with that?" in both English and Español.

First, we began to import throwaway products. Now we have throwaway workers. Check out the tent cities of the homeless all over California.

REALLY, is there anything -- or, for that matter, anyone -- we don't throw away these days? We have disposable plates, disposable utensils, disposable containers and disposable appliances.

Disposable napkins, disposable clothes, disposable bags and disposable lighters.

Disposable relationships, disposable contracts, disposable jobs and disposable workers.

Disposable music, disposable culture, disposable arts and disposable media.

Disposable lovers, disposable kids, disposable marriages and disposable morality.

AGAIN . . . CAN SOMEBODY tell me what we don't discard?

Well, banks do seem to have some difficulty in disposing of "toxic assets." And we fervently hope you won't chuck this week's episode of the Big Show.

Such is life in a world where people serve the economy, and not the other way around. Maybe that's why we keep returning to this theme in these times.

Or, as
Bob Seger once sang:
Feel like a number,
Feel like a stranger,
A stranger in this land,
I feel like a number,
I'm not a number,
I'm not a number,
Dammit I'm a man,
I said I'm a man
THAT'S KIND OF a Motor City translation of a Christmas sermon Pope Leo the Great once gave. The money line: "Christian, remember your dignity."

It would be nice if the suits remembered our dignity once in a while, too. "Dammit, I'm a man. I said I'm a man."

And, as always, it's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

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