Ross Perot, that strange little billionaire who ran for president some years ago, used to talk about a "giant sucking sound," when speaking of the NAFTA trade agreement. Of course Perot was referring to the jobs being sucked away from American workers, out of the country, and into Mexico. In many ways that came to fruition, but today, I hear that sound again, only this time it's coming from millions of Americans being sucked out of the Middle Class and back down to the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid. In fact, the Middle Class in the U.S. is disappearing faster that an ice cube on the sidewalk on a scorching July afternoon.
Two glaring consequences of this phenomena crossed my path last week. First was in the form of a film called "Paycheck to Paycheck" that was produced by Maria Shriver. We'll dispense with the irony here and simply say this documentary on the life and times of a single mother trying to raise a couple of kids while working in an elder care facility for minimum wage. "Working" is an understatement here. Very few folks could do that kind of job and this young woman does it with all the sensitivity and grit it takes to get through these long shifts.
You'd have to have a heart of granite, or no heart, not to feel for this proud independent survivor. Then, just the other evening comedian Bill Mahr was railing against the Walton family as he often does. Only this time he was describing how one of the billionaire daughters was trying to "give back" with the inception of some kind of art museum. "How about a raise, you nitwit," Mahr said. Simple as it sounds, that seems to be the question.
Many people my age have recently come to realize that if they were to be college age today, they could no longer afford to go to college. That's serious. That's undemocratic. That's ultimately disastrous.
I have always been proud of the fact that I'm a first generation college student who actually paid for his entire college education from mostly minimum wage part-time jobs. Something t be proud of for sure, but virtually impossible any more. That says it all.
I hear that sound again. It's all the books and knowledge being sucked away.