"Please Just Listen." The View at Age 22.
What most of us call "debt" a neo-liberal calls "wealth creation," for the creditor. If you see a neo-liberal campaigning near you, perhaps you could ask her (or him) what she (or he) thinks about that (source; click to enlarge).
by Gaius Publius
I've wanted to feature this for a while, a plea, a cry, from a 22-year-old Daily Kos diarist on what the world looks like if you're just 22. I'm going to excerpt portions, but not all. I encourage you to read the whole thing at the source. It's a fine and instructive piece of work.
The writer starts:
Please just listen. A view at 22.Then he compares his recent experience with ours, the generation of his parents and the rest of "us." The older generations are the "you" in this story. First "our" experience of the world:
I’m 22. Let me give you one take on the youth vote as derived from our experience. I am going to give my blunt assessment.
Many of you grew up during a time in which the United States was one of two global world powers. We had the strongest middle class in the world. Most people could find a job, work hard, and retire decently. There were exploited minorities- African Americans, LGBT, women, and the lower class- but the middle class was robust enough to consider the pleas of the most downtrodden as an unfortunate consequence of the world, a cause of their own lack of industry, or something that is improving slowly but surely. ...
Your recent memory probably unfolds like this: Reagan fucked everything up, shit continued poorly under Bush I, Clinton comes to town and things improve- the country is doing damn well, in many respects, Bush II comes and… yikes. Obama strides in, makes some notable improvements but R’s stymie him mostly. All the while, your financial situation is more or less OK. Not good. But for most people, life continues OK. Things were good in the 90’s. The Clinton’s were good. Bush really fucked up (big time). And now things are a little better again. I get why you think Clinton is a good candidate.Now his and his generation's experience. Remember, if you're 22 now, you were born in 1994 and started high school in 2007.
Here’s our experience:In other words, a 22-year-old lives with the Clinton aftermath, the wreck left behind, not the Clinton "boom" (or bubble) that the rest of us enjoyed briefly, if we were so fortunate. We experienced the bubble and the Clintons themselves. Our 22-year-old sees just the dregs, what's left after the bubble has burst and the lucky among us have already emptied the glass.
We grow up. Bush is the first president we can remember. Everyone says he is awful. I don’t really know anything at my young age but this was more or less ingrained in me via my family and environs. My personal family experienced severe poverty before, during, and after Bush. In that regard we’re a little different than normal but from observing peers I know the general story. As stated above, things were tough under Bush particularly in ‘08, obviously. Things slightly improved for some since. But now we’re at the age that we’re on our own. We never lived through the relatively “good” years of Clinton. Instead, what we see with a Clinton president, is: The Crime Bill, NAFTA, WTO, DLC, no action on climate change, welfare reform, deregulation (especially of wall street), and general corporate-friendliness. Those are not good things. We have no inclination towards the good ole days cause we didn’t experience them. Instead we’re living the repercussions of those good ole days: financial instability, climate chaos, oligarchy.
We live in a world in which the minimum wage is a starvation wage. A world in which student debt is fucking crippling. YOU DIDN’T HAVE DEBT LIKE WE DO, THIS IS FUCKING STUPID. ALL OF OUR LIVES, YOU- THE ADULTS OF THE WORLD- TOLD US TO GET AN EDUCATION AND NOW WHAT? That education is CRIPPLING US. So many young people = fucked by student debt. Yeah, it’s a pretty big issue. We live in a world in which there are no jobs anyways so fuck it, we can’t even find work to pay our debt cause trade deals let corporations say “Peace out!” Most scaring, we live in a world in which the climate is on the brink of collapse. I will have to deal with your sins. THANKS.How does this not perfectly capture the "revolution" powering the Sanders campaign, and the Democratic Establishment's reaction to it? Again:
Thankfully, in part because of our experience, many in “this generation” are inclined towards militant activism: Occupy, climate warriors, and BlackLivesMatter. All our lives we’ve been told how important it is for us to be involved. We’re getting involved. And what is the response from the “establishment?”
We’re getting involved. And what is the response from the “establishment?”He closes his main section this way:
Have any of you read a history book? You wanna know how shit gets done in this country? People hit the streets. The Revolution, abolition, suffragists, the labor movement, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, AIM/Red Power, LGBTQI rights, and now, hopefully we can do this, a connecting BLM, climate justice, labor movement.As many of us have written over and over, this election is not about personalities, but about issues (unless it resolves to a Trump-Clinton contest; then it will be lying feast of a piefight). And what's driving those issues is real pain, just like the military draft to fuel the Vietnam War with bodies was real pain.
We elect bold candidates. We make demands. And we hit the streets. ... I’m sick of being told to wait my turn.
This is the real pain of this generation, well expressed. There's real pain in all generations. The rebellion will not go away.
Caveat: The writer understands that not all "olders" are blind to what his debt-gutted generation is going through, just as the hippie generation, in its youth, understood that many "olders" stood with them too. As you read the piece in full, and I hope you do, take it in that spirit.
Bill Clinton and Paul Ryan in 2011 planning our future, the one with a double dose of austerity and real pain in it. 2011 was one of those Obama "grand bargain" years.
Let the video above be a reminder. None of us can change the past, the cause of the wreckage we now live in. But we can certainly take charge of the future, can certainly own it, even if it means coloring outside the circle, voting for unapproved candidates, and when necessary, acting outside the boundaries of approved behavior.
If we don't, people like the men in the video above, who together own the circle and create those boundaries, will continue to manage our future for us — or rather for themselves, as they see fit, for as long as we let them.