Tuesday, January 20, 2015



This evening, President Obama played out a vision for a more just tax system for working families. It isn't something he or anyone else expects to see passed-- at least not while Obama is president and the Congress is firmly controlled by Wall Street and Big Business through the Republican Party (and the New Dems and Blue Dogs) they own. A vision to aspire to? At best, I guess.

The song above has a different sort of vision. The Clash released it in late 1979 on their third album, London Calling, their breakthrough (platinum) U.S. release. The album doesn't shy away from difficult political themes and an analysis that goes way beyond what most rock bands-- or SOTU addresses-- ever offer. A few weeks ago we looked at the Paul Simonon-penned Guns of Brixton from the same album which deals with police violence and authoritarianism, problems very much still in the headlines and in the fabric of national life today.

If anything, "Clampdown" is deals with even more prevalent problems for working families in Western society. Joe Strummer, who wrote the lyrics, was dealing with how the 1% get to impose social mores on the rest of us to get us to happily man their factories and make them richer and richer while we impoverish ourselves. He had a different view of the work ethic than Max Weber. This is all about getting enmeshed in a dysfunctional system-- capitalism-- that leads debt and zombie-like conformity.

Hey, hey!
The kingdom is ransacked
the jewels all taken back
and the chopper descends
they're hidden in the back
with a message on a half-baked tape
with the spool going round
saying I'm back here in this place
and I could cry
and there's smoke you could click on

What are we gonna do now?
Taking off his turban, they said, is this man a Jew?
'Cause they're working for the clampdown
They put up a poster saying we earn more than you!
When we're working for the clampdown
We will teach our twisted speech
To the young believers
We will train our blue-eyed men
To be young believers

The judge said five to ten, but I say double that again
I'm not working for the clampdown
No man born with a living soul
Can be working for the clampdown
Kick over the wall 'cause government's to fall
How can you refuse it?
Let fury have the hour, anger can be power
D'you know that you can use it?

The voices in your head are calling
Stop wasting your time, there's nothing coming
Only a fool would think someone could save you
The men at the factory are old and cunning
You don't owe nothing, so boy get running
It's the best years of your life they want to steal

You grow up and you calm down
You're working for the clampdown
You start wearing the blue and brown
You're working for the clampdown
So you got someone to boss around
It makes you feel big now
You drift until you brutalize
You made your first kill now

In these days of evil presidentes
Working for the clampdown
But lately one or two has fully paid their due
For working for the clampdown
Ha! Gitalong! Gitalong!
Working for the clampdown
Ha! Gitalong! Gitalong!
Working for the clampdown

Yeah I'm working hard in Harrisburg
Working hard in Petersburg
Working for the clampdown
Working for the clampdown
Ha! Gitalong! Gitalong
Begging to be melted down
Gitalong, gitalong
(Work) And I've given away no secrets-- ha!
(More work)
(More work)
Who's barmy now?

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At 11:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This hopeless proposal by Obumma is the other book end to a pair of extremely cynical and insulting slaps in the face of the 99.99%.

The first was the, then, still Dem-controlled congress, in its 2010 lame duck session that failed to do NOTHING. Said nothing being the only thing necessary to allow the budget-smashing (remember the sacred balanced budget) Bush tax cuts for the terminally greedy.

Yes, I know, certain acts demonstrating political spine would have been and would be required to fight off new proposals for tax breaks for the 0.01%. (for more on this see "feckless Democratic lemmings.")

John Puma

At 11:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's "allow expiration of the budget-smashing ... "

John Puma


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