The true character of a person is revealed when they are under crisis. When subjected to extreme stress, the veneer is stripped away, and that person’s core comes out for all the world to see. The same is true for organizations and countries. It’s also true for groups and classes of people.
So, what are we seeing in America during the biggest crisis we’ve had in a hundred years? Those with fancy college degrees might say we see the brutal effects of “late-stage capitalism”.
I’d say we’ve entered the stage where the billionaires’ and corporate America’s true character is on full display. Gone are the attempts to pretend they care about us. A sneer has replaced the smile. They are showing their utter contempt for the rest of us.
As a class, they have barely lifted a finger to help our country get through this crisis. While healthcare and service workers are risking their lives every single day, they are safely on their estates or yachts tucked away in style. (Yes, we saw you David Geffen and Jerry Jones.) Sorry I mean their super-yachts.
While Americans are volunteering to sew masks for their neighbors and countrymen, billionaire-in-chief Jeff Bezos is asking people to donate to Amazon so their workers can have paid sick time!
While thousands of small businesses are folding up—corporations took the loans meant for them without a shred of shame.
I’d say we’ve entered the stage where the billionaires and corporate elites are pushing us down the sidewalk, just like a grade school bully. With each push, as we stumble or fall, they are sneering into our face: “Whatcha gonna do about it?”
And, why wouldn’t the titans of Wall Street and the plush living Plutocrats show their true colors? After all, they crashed our economy in 2008 and got bailed out by the taxpayers. None of them went to jail. Within a couple of years, they were back on Easy Street, and corporate profits were back on track. With no consequences whatsoever.
They buy up our politicians and rig the rules of the economy for their benefit. Jeff Bezos’ wealth went up $24 billion one month into a global pandemic. The stock market went up recently as we hit new highs of unemployment. Corporations got bailed out to the tune of trillions of dollars, and we got a $1,200 check.
They aren’t just thumbing their noses at us. They are literally pushing us around the block and taunting us, “Whatcha gonna do about it?”
Well, what are we gonna do? What are you gonna do about it?
This is where the good news comes in. There is already a rising wave of rebellion that we haven’t seen in generations. Wildcat strikes are happening left and right. Anger is everywhere you turn.
Four in five Americans support collective bargaining. People are organizing rent strikes all over the place. In the biggest belly of corporate America—Amazon—tech workers staged a sickout to support blue-collar warehouse workers.
These kinds of actions and solidarity between working people are what makes the so-called Titans of Industry rear back on their heels and make like Scooby-Doo with a “rut-roh!”
But, it is up to each of us not to allow this to be a momentary thing. It is up to us to organize and fight back.
They got the money. We’ve got the numbers.
But, the power of those numbers only becomes realized when it comes together through organizing. Just like the five fingers of your hand only become a powerful fist when they are brought together.
It’s time to organize a union. It’s time to get involved in politics. Join—or start—a neighborhood or community group. Talk to your neighbors or co-workers about what needs to get done.
It’s also time to not fall for the charlatans who cling to their power by dividing us up. Since the founding of our country, the wealthy and powerful have maintained their power by dividing us up based on the color of our skin, our accents, or the kind of work we do. Once we are fighting amongst ourselves, they laugh their asses off at us while they pile up more money in their Cayman Islands bank accounts.
And, we know by our history that the only great advances for common people have happened when we have united across our differences. Divide and conquer is the oldest trick in the book—don’t fall for it.
It’s also time for us to remember that bullies are fundamentally weak. Their core is hollow, empty, and full of fear. It’s why they bluster and bully. And, the super-rich are nervous and scared all the time too. This is why they spend enormous amounts of time and energy in trying to distract and divide us.
And, every single one of us learned when we were young what happens when you finally screw up the courage to confront the schoolyard bully—especially when we unite with others in doing so. They turn tail and run. Every. Single. Time.
It’s time we stood up. Our futures demand it. Our children deserve it. Right now, our lives depend on it. Let’s get going.