A Warning: This isn’t a short article. If it were able to be shortened, maybe we wouldn’t need the explanation. I admit my bias up front; I am a strong, passionate, well-researched, educated Progressive. However, I don’t care much for labels. Suffice to say, if there is one thing about me that has been true since I was a very young boy, it is that I am going to ask “WHY”.
This article will hopefully have you asking some internal “Why’s”, as well. If not, apologies in advance for wasting your time.
The Setup: As many of my thoughts go, I started to respond to a meme on social media, shared by someone I know through my years in media. The meme, below, was associating the philosophy of the distribution of wealth with the words of Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D, MA). If I have a trigger, it is misinformation being dispersed by those who don’t know any better. The post likened this meme’s intent to Venezuela.
First of all, applying an apple tree and 5 years and 50 apples makes this akin to a work problem that doesn’t add up. In that, if you’re going to use metaphor, then use it right.
Read the meme. Flip the perspective. Indulge me to read this to the end in one sitting.
Tom inherits an apple orchard. Tom, using his father’s business principles, buys more land to plant more apple orchards. Tom’s barn, which is now a gigantic facility, employs the former orchard workers as packers and processors. To save money, now that Tom owes more, Tom decides to bring in low-cost labour to pick and harvest the apples, using his more…skilled labor inside.
Seeing a sudden surge of profits thanks to a slash in overhead and drastic increase in productivity, Tom buys more orchards, facilities, and begins a national operation spanning dozens of states and shipping apples all over the world.
Tom now has 5,000 apple groves nationwide with dozens of transportation hubs, processing plants, distribution warehouses, etc all contracted out to help harvest the apples and make the company grow. These companies work together so ensure you have apple juice.
Tom sees the money being spent, thinking if he applied the same logic as he did with his labour force, he begins to consolidate his business. Why pay someone to transport, process, and distribute when I can do that all in-house.
Those pesky federal regulations standing in the way, as they are prone to do, ensure that a 3rd party inspect and process the produce so that it can be tested and treated to pass FDA guidelines and ensure no harmful or poisonous chemicals made their way to the consumables. Transportation regulations ensured safe, responsible, and regulated travel. Going through 3rd party companies, who regulated how much could be transported at one time and how long each driver could drive at a time.
Tom found this to be a violation of his rights even though he had never read the Constitution. Tom asks for advice from an old classmate and frat brother, an attorney friend, who also works with representatives of companies, politicians, and power brokers in Washington. This friend, Bob, knows everyone and can make just about anything happen. Tom and Bob used to date the same girls together at parties with some other guys in college, so Tom knows he can trust Bob.
Bob introduces Tom to the Senator from his state, Larry. Over dinner, Tom explains what he wants to do with his business and his Senator says that it just isn’t in the best interest of everyone to do it Tom’s way…and figuring that out is why the regulations are there to begin with. He would love to work something else out, but seeking reelection or not, he wouldn’t be interested in presenting legislation that conflicts with facts. He appreciates the small donation to his campaign, and he would appreciate continued support, but not at the risk of selling his vote. Tom walks away disappointed.
Tom invests a considerable chunk of change to get his former Eiffel-Tower attorney buddy elected. Bob, the lobbyist, is now running for the state Senate seat opposing Larry, coincidentally. Once in office, Sen. Bob helps author and support legislation that would provide tax incentives for Tom to not only consolidate his entire business, but some of his orchards as well.
This bill allows Tom to consolidate his apple production, buying thousands of acres in the state where Sen. Bob oversees things, thus closing down hundreds of orchards in 32 other states. It also allows Bob to release the companies (and jobs) who handled his processing and logistics. Being the solid, stand-up family values guy Tom is, he extends to many of those local workers, the opportunity to do the same work for his company, except they would lose their pensions, work longer hours, for less pay and cut benefits. Better than nothing though, Right?
Sen. Bob also lobbies his cronies in the Senate to loosen regulations on mass produce distribution, making it possible for Tom to not only plant and grow his apple trees as well as harvest them himself (or, more aptly, the illegal slave labour he uses to prevent him from having to pay legal wages or benefits). This buddy back scratching also says he can process, package, and ship the apples, applesauce, apple chips, etc.
Tom has gone from an apple grower to an Apple magnate in just a few short years and with investing a few hundreds of thousands of dollars in a few campaigns.
Because of this new legislation and influence, Tom applies the same logic that has made him very wealthy and decides that it makes no sense to have his plants scattered through dozens of states, so he begins to consolidate. This isn’t a survival move. This is a company with record profits profiting even more. ONE state gets the big plant, headlines read that Tom is a hero to that state, meanwhile the other 32 states and hundreds of jobs lost aren’t even mentioned because the owner of the news outlet, Jim, is of Tom and Bob’s political affiliation, and..surprise…fraternity brother. Jim loves the fact that he can manipulate his audience to believe that the opposing political party runs the media so Jim is free to push Bob and Tom’s mutual agendas.
So, this massive mega plant, which employs hundreds fewer than if these plants were scattered about, is running at full capacity. Profits are soaring. Overhead is still too high.
Tom, seeing a political swing in an election year in the area where his new mega plant is located, lays off 200 of his employees, attempting to make the economy look weak, ensuring fear and loathing toward the opposing party. Tom’s party wins the election, and, in ultimate irony, passes legislation that Tom actually helped author with help from Sen. Bob. The fine print, which no one reads, eliminates a tax penalty that would cost Tom money if he were to close or relocate this new Mega plant.
2 years and another 300 layoffs later, the plant is reporting record profits and Tom is seeing the possibilities.
Tom’s booming financials helps push Sen. Bob into a run for the presidency.
Tom, makes it passively aggressively known to his employees that voting for the opposing party would probably result in him being forced to lay off more employees. Since most of his employees are labourers or factory workers, and since Tom, Bob, Bill, Jim, and everyone in between (who incidentally have high level degrees) make everyone feel badly about going to college, their audience is ignorant and doesn’t know any better than to believe whatever fear-mongering they are spoonfed.
Here’s where it gets good…
Sen. Bob did NOT win the nomination, but what DID happen is Bob is now in the new president’s cabinet – in a position of foreign affairs. Bob now “negotiates” a trade deal that would lower import AND export tariffs on both sides with a country that once wasn’t an ally, but under this new presidency, dictatorships and child labour aren’t frowned upon. This new moral freedom allows, Tom to close his Mega Plant, leaving hundreds of legal workers unemployed with nothing to show for it and hundreds of undocumented illegals unemployed. These workers, mostly minimum-wage employees or lower, are left with no savings, no backup plan, no retirement but worn and broken bodies from paycheck-to-paychecking in. Apple plant.
Tom moves his processing and distribution to the new country, Crookraine, cutting his cost per apple from $1.56 to .23 cents. Tom dances as he immediately goes from multimillionaire to billionaire virtually overnight.
I’m afraid it isn’t over. Tom is getting some serious flack for closing his plant that he promised would be in this community for decades to come when they reluctantly granted him the tax loopholes to bring the plant there in the first place.
Tom, to deflect from his own public skewering, calls upon his old media friend, Jim, to do a story about the infiltration of illegal rapists and criminals. Locals eat it up, since they are seeing a whole lot more foreigners lurking about lately. With no job to go to, one must look for work. Sometimes that means they get seen. Never fear, Tom! With a well-timed ICE raid, the noisemakers complaining about not having a job are shipped to the border and caged, separated from their children.
Tom, now living on his island most of the time, no longer has to deal with the phone calls and texts from his assistant who is having to deal with calls and emails from his marketing director who is catching serious flack from Tom’s PR firm, which is flooded with requests for a statement by media outlets NOT owned by brother Jim.
Now, Joe, a former employee of Tom’s, spent his life working for Tom…from the very early days of Tom’s first orchard. Joe saw this company grow and expand. The right hand man of Tom, Joe was always told where Tom went, he would surely follow. Joe was promoted and eventually came to oversee the creation of the mega-plant. Joe uprooted his family and came to the new state. When the mega-plant closed, guess what happened to Joe?
Left in the wake of Tom’s capitalism cash-out, are empty, vacant fields, plants, warehouses, industrial parks…and unemployment numbers eventually leveled out (understanding how those figures are tallied). By leveling out, that means most of the plant work forces being on unemployment until the benefits run out, they are no longer considered “unemployed”, which is spectacular figures to report for Sen. Bob’s career, which eventually leads him to a few high-paid consulting jobs, a massive payout from the foreign country where Tom’s new plants are located (finagled by giving Bob’s son, Mark, a high level position at a consulting firm that would aide in the transition of the apple dynasty…because..ya know…SOMEONE has to take a $64,000,000 a year salary to speak English, right?) making Sen. Bob a multi-millionaire, because he has raised a nice, subservient son.
Senator Bob now makes another run for the White House, his second time around quite successful. The opposing party president, Larry…remember Larry? Larry had a high support base, but it just so turns out that the country where the apple plants were relocated is world renown for their dark, cyber-terrorism underbelly. Through questionably “legal” channels, Senator Bob, using his position in the previous administration’s cabinet and tossing political clout, threatens that Tom may just move his apple plants to another country if Pres. Larry gets a second term. An aide later has a conversation about how beneficial a Bob presidency would be and as popular as Larry is, hahaha, it would take some hacking into election data or social media to make it happen *wink, nudge*. But hahaha. We’re fighting the good fight. Hahaha. That’s illegal and unethical of course, hahahahaha, only kidding, but really that’s the only way we see Larry NOT being president and taxing the hell out of Tom for being more Karen than American and taking his business elsewhere.
Crookraine, the country where the Apple plants are now, uses their governmental resources, otherwise known as the dark, cyber-terrorism underbelly, to influence America’s social media, targeting those in certain lower education-and-income brackets. False information, click-bait, and bald-faced, unsubstantiated accusations circulate. While none of it can be proven, it casts enough doubt in the minds of those who aren’t trained in deep, critical thinking and research. They go into the polls and, in a moment of doubt and fear, they vote for the Devil they think they know. After all…it’s been 4 years and all that has happened is job losses, layoffs, and a lot of negativity (granted, Crookraine is doing their fair share circulating the negativity).
What you DON’T know is that Sen. Bob likes little girls. Specifically little brown girls. In the darkness, Tom always employed undocumented immigrants because it was a never-ending supply of harem girls, and what we might find out later, boys. Tom and Bob would work together and throw parties for their buddies who wanted to pay for an 8 year old. Now that Tom has his island, where preteen princess run rampant (sex slaves, don’t kid yourself), Bob, Mark, Jim, and the lot party hard and do the things. When word leaks out publicly that Bob likes ’em young, Jim, not wanting to be tied to it, nips the story in the bud and retargets the reporting bias against the accuser. The accuser is publicly ruined, the boys are safe, and the girls aren’t. Just as they like it.
You’re thinking, “Jim owns a LOCAL media outlet. What can he REALLY do?”
Remember back when Sen. Bob was just a Senator and Tom was laying off employees and raking in profits? Jim had bought up a considerable number of small and medium market media outlets. However, federal regulations, as pesky as they are, made it so that no one entity could own more than X% of the media in a market. This stood in the way of Jim’s media empire and his billions. Bob now cosponsors a bill which would deregulate media ownership rules. Bob is the hero who gets things done in Washington, or so his billboards say. Oh, shortly after Bob’s daughter, Sue, marries Jim’s son, Bill. Coincidentally, of course.
Bill runs much of the broadcast media portion of the business, and Sue, who knows nothing about the media industry, now oversees print and outdoor. Wondering why they’re paying so much in salaries, they decide to follow Sue’s Dad’s path. Remember Tom, right? …with the Apple island? So, Bill and Sue set about to make Daddy Jim proud by setting record profits despite a downtrend economy.
When Bill comes into the market with his handy ($20k/mo) consultant, the fat us trimmed. Radio stations lose their live Overnight personalities. Then Weekend. Then Night. Then Midday. Then Afternoons. Then Morning Drive. Why do we need a team? Make it one guy. If he can’t be funny by himself he shouldn’t be working in this business anyway.
Before you know it, the station is syndicated, or worse yet, staffed by “personalities” making less than $35k a year. (Psst! That’s an insultingly low salary for radio…or any job for that matter. And truth is, even today, many radio personalities struggle to earn 30k a year).
The radio station now offers syndicated programming with 3 overworked actual employees who split time handling programming, sales, promotion, and administration duties. And emergencies. Because that still has to happen. Stupid federal regulations.
These unemployment numbers ALSO eventually level out when these industry specialized entertainers have no jobs left to seek, their unemployment benefits run out, and are forced, like their Apple factory brethren, to seek 2 or 3 lower-than-their-experience-and-edcuation-level jobs…if they are lucky.
Of course, they could also take on student loans, go back to school, and start over, right?
Not so fast there, skippy.
Lacking the credit to secure a student loan, because medical bills have piled up and credit cards are maxed out, school cases to be an option. Medical bills, you say? Oh. Yeah. You see…when they lost their full-time media/factory jobs, insurance went away. Struggling just to get by, the marriage falls apart. The children now live in a split family with neither parent doing well. These children grow up with the same angry chips on their shoulders their parents had because kids are sponges that puke out whatever they soak in. The children, however, ALSO can’t afford college and hardly have the grades for it. It is difficult to focus on studying while you’re working full time at a minimum wage job to help the family.
This is what IS happening in American politics today. This IS what has happened in American politics for decades.
This is the cycle of commercialism and American capitalism run amok.
Replace Apples with anything else. Radio? Just a metaphor for the media industry, as a whole (and maybe my own passive-aggressive dig, admittedly).
I hope you found this interesting, entertaining, and informative. While clearly biased and inspired, hopefully it is clear that corruption rests on all sides of our current system. My argument is always for weeding out the biggest tumour first. Remove the most lethal cancer before moving on to the rest. And right now, misinformation is the second greatest threat to the future of our world. The greatest threat is becoming a poorly and uneducated society.
If reading this, you found Tom, Bob, Bill, and Mark to be abhorrent, why are you voting for Republicans or Conservative economic agendas?
If you’re STILL wondering what happened to Joe, maybe you should consider asking me WHY I’m a Progressive. Ask me why I’m a government scholar and I am not afraid of the word “socialism”. I know the difference in that and what I believe in. Odds are, you probably don’t. Please ask me. I’m happy to teach.
However, I’m done talking to people unlearned or unwilling to accept that someone might know more than they do. The only reason I know as much as I do is because I ask questions. When I meet an expert, I ask. Engaging in these sorts of discussions becomes frustratingly unfruitful and is the punchline to the “discussing politics” joke. Let’s not discuss politics. Let’s discuss LIFE. What has helped you. What has hurt you. What you need. What you want. How you want your children to live. Discuss THESE ideas and stay away from politics. My guess is that if you begin to focus more on those questions, you might find that you’re asking yourself, “WHY?!”