Hard Times

In a recent blog I talked briefly about my politics now versus what they were during the peak of my fervor for Bernie Sanders; namely, they haven’t changed much. The only real difference is that the overwhelming majority of the time — on social media and in real life — I keep my opinions to myself.

This “growth,” of sorts, has never been more real than in this age where ninety percent of the people I come in contact are either talking about gas prices or inflation. And it isn’t like my social universe is limited: in a given week I probably speak to anywhere between 50 and 100 coworkers (from all manner of different departments), and anywhere between 250 and 500 gamblers (depending on what concerts or events the casino is putting on). I have a public job, and I have to pretend to give a shit more often than not.

I used to visit my dad every two or three weeks. I mean I still do, but I used to think he was one of a kind in these areas. While the rest of my immediate family — my two brothers especially — would be considered “far left,” or “extremely liberal,” my dad was like the one person I was semi-regularly exposed to who would do nothing but nonstop bitch about Democrats and the direction of the country as a whole. To be fair, I was that token “lefty” for him as well. As much effort as the two of us put in to avoiding political discussions and talking exclusively about sports, invariably the topic would come up.

So we would do our dance; he would talk about how all of our problems are because of the Democratic Party pulling the country so far to the left, I would interject and ask him to provide any evidence of that — and cite that unions are as weak as they’ve ever been, we don’t have decent healthcare or education and blah blah blah because most of our tax dollars go into building bombs — and he would continue to move the goalposts. This, mind you, was when Donald Trump, a Republican was in office.

The point to this isn’t that it’s anything special for my father and I to disagree on a great many things, it’s that essentially my entire world of people — coworkers and strangers (that I’m forced to interact with) alike — are like my dad now. Everything is gas prices this, inflation that, and Joe Biden is the worst President in the history of the United States.

I guess that’s all fine, and far be it for me to correct anybody about anything, I’m just kind of bored of it. I mean wasn’t George W. Bush, at the time, the worst President of all-time? Wasn’t Barack Obama, at the time, the worst President of all-time? Wasn’t Donald Trump, at the time, the worst President of all-time? Surely I can’t be the only 32 year-old who remembers these things.

I do think being an unapologetic Socialist gives me a fair perspective here. I wouldn’t say people have to agree with me in thinking we should spend more money on building up the working class instead of pumping enormous sums of money into the military, but I feel like it helps me see more clearly when I’m neither a Republican (consuming Fox News or worse) nor a Democrat (consuming CNN or MSNBC). These are the parties and the networks that foster a culture of such amnesia. I can already picture a world where a competent version of Trump wins in 2024 and “liberal” news outlets convince Democratic voters that Trump would be better for the country — much like the rehabilitation they did of George W. Bush during the Trump years.

My philosophy has always more or less been that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. In the same vein, if the answer that everybody grasps to is the low-hanging fruit — the lazy, obvious thing — then that’s probably not correct.

It’s my opinion that Joe Biden — who, again, I am not at all a fan of but here I am defending him to some degree — is not the lone culprit for high gas prices and inflation. Could he do something to help? Of course he can. I have a bigger problem with the second part of that than I do the first.

My big thing, and I can’t shake this, is my gut feeling tells me that many gigantic corporations are using inflation as an excuse to raise prices. We see this with gas companies who are charging significantly more per gallon despite the price per barrel of oil being lower now than it was ten or fifteen years ago. These billion-dollar behemoths are making record profits, and there are absolutely no safeguards in place to stop them from continuing.

It’s the same basic principle that the pharmaceutical industry uses to raise drug prices. If people need the drugs, they are going to buy them regardless of cost. So in America they can set their price, and since they fund many (or most) politicians, the government doesn’t do anything about it. Capitalism allows these places to make billions of dollars every year while regular people struggle to survive.

I think it’s hilarious that most people I work with live within 10 or 15 minutes of the casino I work at, and they complain to me (!) about gas prices even though I am now spending something like $700 per month in gas because I live an hour away. You know who never looks at gas prices? Me. And you know why? Because I need gas to commute to work, and I could not give a fuck how much it is.

Maybe the moral to this story is that people enjoy complaining. People love to have a common, universal truth to bitch about. In all the political talks my dad and I have, and have had, the common theme — whether a Republican was President or a Democrat — is that Dems are ruining the country. I imagine the reason for that is because my dad is a Republican, and his life sucks. Had somewhere along the line he merely zigged instead of zagging, or zagged instead of zigging, he just as easily could have been a Democrat who blamed all of his troubles (as well as the country’s) on Republicans.

I suppose it’s some coincidence, or maybe it isn’t, that there happens to be a Democrat in office when the price of gas is as high as it’s ever been. Where the price of bread and ketchup and Coca Cola is as high as it’s ever been. Where the housing market is still bloated. And where the stock market does its thing and continues on a downward trajectory for good measure. My theory is that wealthy corporations are using “inflation” as an excuse to laugh all the way to the bank. The one thing I won’t do, which should be obvious to any reader of this blog, is blindly go along with the masses and blame the person who happens to be President at the moment.

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