17 April 2013: Lee Kash-ing is confronted by dock worker militancy

“Lee Kash Ing” BENEFITS from a system in which people are trapped for more than one generation in a poverty that’s relative but real (life in the public housing flats is cramped and depressing, with no public facilities save a great library and wetlands, the poverty being relative, again).

Like the British class system, it’s (relatively) benign but none the less real and over time more and more insufferable.

My father was a doctor and not a union man but my brother is a retired long distance trucker who in the USA has greatly benefited from Teamster solidarity and militancy. When I would tag along with him to union events I could see union members hugging each other in solidarity before going on (dangerous) picket lines. Whereas I fought snide office politics and back-stabbing in the white-collar non-union computer field.

We’re supposed to ignore the wounds of class if we”re financially comfortable. But that’s just it. Internships and other ways of extracting free labor (for example, I having to recruit friends to accompany me on my chemo runs as well as “open source” and “crowd sourcing”) MEAN that Capital is running out of steam. Being constantly disrespected for not having the markers of class (such as a suit and tie, or, today, no tie but a long-staple cotton shirt and tropical wool suit) when as JFK said “we are all mortal” is the problem.

This sharp, binary divide between the *gratin* and the ordinary person, right down to disrespecting a person who uses the computer too much (whether because that’s her job, or she finds fulfillment in Facebook in a world where human connection is so rare that the ersatz is better than nothing) , is over time unsustainable, and a major cause of earth damage caused by excess competition.

For example, the Right thinks it’s dandy that the US may be going back to producing its own oil thanks to “oil shale” and “oil sands” because of “jobs creation” as was seen in 1980 when international prices spiked and there were reserves in Oklahoma. Nobody cared in 1981 that I was insensitively pushed into oil business software, after demonstrating superior skills in telecom software in the form of a billing program that simulated a PBX switch to produce accurate bills for PBX networks in the presence of call waiting, conference calling and other new features. I was just a “coder”, a Ken doll in a business suit, an object.

Likewise today, the oil patch and Dakota “jobs” lauded in The Economist are not of the sort that upper caste *gratin* or Economist journos would either be able to survive or would want. They go to Oxford and Princeton, let it not be forgot, to avoid the oil derrick, the coal seam, and the Starbuck’s job. They don’t always avoid that fate, especially if their parents are not *gratin*, but that has been the purpose of university (other than its true purpose of “gladly lerne and gladly teche”) for too long.

Likewise, I didn’t want, in May 1981, to have to ignore my wife’s depression and waste my life drinking 3.2 beer with good ole boys who still decided I was gay and as such not an acceptable coworker, and I tried to point out that “virtual machines” MEAN no need for testing on a physical system in Oklahoma. The managers, though *gratin* or close, literally didn’t understand how this could be so, yet had signed up to upgrade to IBMs OS having been told by IBM salesmen that this was so. But I did and my wife and I separated, and my family was destroyed…not, I am the first to admit, without the connivance of my defects of character.

I’d started work in a different world, that of the far more classless late 1960s, when headhunters would beg me to take good jobs. This world was none the less one of wealth generation, because in today’s world, too much non-productive labor, that of today’s new “chattering class”, has to be spent on theodicy, justifying the ways of the god Capital, where the late 1960s’ more equal distribution needed little justification (cf. Terry Eagketon).

I was oversold on the Reagan dreamworld, almost spitefully believing in his snake oil owing to the disappointment in my marriage, repeating to myself Scott Fiztgerald’s dictum that “living well is the best revenge”.

Actually, fact checking reveals that Fitzgerald never said that, only that he liked it: George Herbert, 17th century Protestant divine and Metaphysical Poet of all people said it.

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 11.06.44 PM

I like hospital visitors a whole bunch whether or not they bring illicit treats I haven’t been able to give up such as Lindt dark chocs or black coffee. Here I am with my 2010 co-star in the gender-bending Hong Kong production of Glengarry Glen Ross, the lovely and talented directorix, actor and teacher Nicole Garbellini.


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