A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL THE BOATS: ANOTHER JFK QUOTABLE QUOTE THAT NEEDS TO BE REVISITED IN TODAY’S WORLD OF DOWNWARD SPIRALLING WAGES, SALARIES, OFFSHORING AND NEARSHORING OF JOBS, AND CANCELLATION OF PENSIONS, BENEFITS AND PAID VACATIONS AND FULL TME WORK ACROSS NORTH AMERICA
John Fitzgerald Kennedy said many things during his long career in public life, both inside and outside the Oval Office, some of which I have preserved on an old vinyl record here at home, which I think I got at a used book store for a quarter many years ago. Money well spent if you ask me. The thing is, is that one of the things the late President said was ‘A rising tide lifts all the boats’, which he meant to say that an improvement in the general welfare of all citizens of his country was crucial to being the guarantor of individual prosperity, something which was not at that time and is still not accepted in America as conventional wisdom.
The notion that as a society we should all strive for the common good of all as a way of ensuring the preservation of our individual liberty, freedom, democracy and prosperity, is still a somewhat alien concept to many Americans, whose fierce attachment to their individual right to ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’ seems to have become an almost pathologically perverse mantra for many Americans, who seem to have grown accustomed to exercising their right to pursue their self-willed, self-centred, self-seeking and self-aggrandizing accumulation of money, power, property, and prestige at the near total exclusion of any consideration of the notion of the common good or of the public interest, invoking the oft-quoted mantra of ‘America is the Land of Opportunity’ and the ‘Land of the Almighty Dollar’, to justify almost any egregious excess or abuse of other citizen’s rights, or those of the land, air or water which giveth sustenance to all in the first place and without which, no amount of ‘life, liberty or pursuit of happiness’ can be realistically pursued, much less perpetuated for future generations.
President Kennedy ‘floated’ if you’ll pardon the metaphor, the radical notion that the collective good of America as a whole should come first, and that as its Chief Executive, he had a moral duty to formulate and to enact, apply and enshrine laws which would put the greater good of America and of all Americans first and foremost, before allowing any one particular person or group of persons, individual or corporate, to swoop in and aggressively scrape up and arrogate to themselves the lion’s share of the bounty of America’s material wherewithal and to enjoy it in such a way as to exclude the vast majority of Americans from enjoying their fair share of it as well.
He saw his role as Chief Executive of ‘America Inc.’ as someone who could coax, cajole and coerce the ‘Board of Directors’ of ‘America Inc.’ (I.e. the Congress) into bending themselves to mould themselves to his will. Unfortunately, JFK’s personal proclivities and his family’s all too recent links to the underworld made him fair game to be exploited by the already established WASP families of New England and of the Italian-American underworld. So his grand scheme to re-engineer American society towards a much more civil state centric society based on domestic policy initiatives to improve the standard of living of average Americans was stopped dead in its tracks and the New Frontier was pushed unceremoniously offshore to Southeast Asia and now in our time, to the Middle East and to Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa as well as Latin America.
Whether or not the ‘tide is rising’ still is up for debate. Domestically, America’s obsession with foreign policy dominance has cost her dearly on the domestic scene. It has literally brought the Trojan Horse of Islamic Fundamentalism straight into the American Homeland through the horrors of 9/11 and the lasting legacy at Ground Zero and the now almost permanent state of alertness of the American and Canadian peoples to the threat of radical Jihadists blowing something or someone up with exploding footwear or the best I’ve seen yet, exploding underwear!
While I won’t get into the more technical ‘equipment difficulties’ which would result for a devout Muslim blowing his ‘geebywallykers’ to Kingdom Come with his funky exploding gotch undergarments as it relates to his putatively imminent admission to Paradise wherein his every need and desire is reputedly to be immediately tended to by a significant number of Vestal Virgins, I will say however that America now finds her once enviable standard of living to be much diminished by the scourge of socio-economic downward mobility, union busting, de-industrialization, and an overall tendency towards an elite discourse which seems fixated upon deconstructing all that has come before and of waging all-out war upon the common working person in America and Canada, whilst blaming the victims of such misfortune at every turn for being lazy, parasitic, unworthy, ungrateful and above all, authors of their own misfortune.
We seem to be sliding back into the Social Darwinism and Eugenics discourse of pre-WWII western society, whereby we first rip the bread out of the mouths of the common person, repossess his house, his car, take away his livelihood, his sense of self-worth, dignity and hope, and then just basically say, ‘get over it’, or worse yet, ‘it’s your own fault for being such greedy and fat cat unionists and lazy bums and calling in sick and sleeping on the job’ etc.. This is somewhat akin to rape victims being blamed for their sexual assault and being victimized all over again. Did she really ‘deserve it?’ Was she ‘dressed provocatively and acting flirtatiously’? Does that justify the other person acting willfully to exercise his lack of judgement and self-control and dignity and self-respect for his body, mind and soul, but especially hers, by violating the sanctity of her body, mind and soul by sexually assaulting her?
I would go so far as to say that the working classes of North America and Europe have been sexually assaulted in a socio-economic and spiritual fashion by an elite plutocracy who has seen fit to augment and guarantee its own survival and prosperity by waging an all-out war of aggression on the working classes of the western world, in their attempt to reconfigure the flow of wealth and power in society so as to essentially consolidate and augment their own power and supremacy on this planet and to break the will and power of the working classes and of the left flank of the political spectrum so as to shatter our ranks and send us scurrying in disarray and to ensure that our ranks never again reform so as to pose a credible threat to the supremacy of global finance, commercial and industrial capital ever again.
So far it’s working beautifully. The Kennedy’s are gone, the Soviet Union, for all its egregious abuses of human dignity, still nonetheless, was a credible rival to American-led financial supremacy and its ‘marketing wing’ the Commintern’, formed in 1919 to propagate global revolution, had been successful in ‘marketing’ an alternative to ‘free enterprise’ overseas during the Cold War, which ironically enough, was what ‘Free Enterprise’ was supposed to be all about, right? Competition!!! Now there’s no viable competing ideology to capitalism, except Muslim Extremism and Chinese autocratic one party totalitarian state capitalism, which the Americans are fuelling more and more by having their corporations invest over there and thereby fattening up the Chinese dragon even more.
So what would JFK have thought about all of this if he has lived? I think it’s a moot point, because I don’t thing American foreign policy would have ever grown to become so belligerent and expansive in his wake if he had lived, but he did not and America has taken a much different turn as a nation. This leads me to believe that it will be a long time coming before Americans truly turn their attention to domestic policy. The recent violence in Baltimore is indicative of where America is going in the coming years. If she does not do something constructive soon about the deplorable conditions in which her citizens live in her inner cities, especially African Americans and Hispanics, then the general welfare will suffer tremendously, and America’s elites will end up scratching their heads, (or reaching for their guns as the case may be) and either applying even more punitive measures against the poorest of poor people in America, victimizing and traumatizing them even more in the mistaken belief that they are ‘breaking the law, and therefore must be punished.’
But when the law of the land is structured in such a manner as it stacks the deck against the most vulnerable elements of society and the fiscal and educational system is structured in such a way as to explicitly exclude the most vulnerable elements of society from participating and contributing to and benefiting from the best that it has to offer, then I can truly say that those people have earned the right to take up the struggle against their oppressors and to use every way and means available to them to throw off the rod of their oppressor, either through political action, or organized coercion of various forms to press for structural change.
What JFK foresaw was what Pierre Trudeau called a Just Society here in Canada, which we achieved a measure of for a while, until what is going on in America has now spread here. I can’t see how a few people getting richer is going to benefit us all. I don’t see how cutting back on government services to families is going to make us all more prosperous. Are we all going to all of a sudden discover some sort of hidden entrepreneurial verve within the marrow of our being and ‘open a small business, because after all, small business drives our economy?’ Phooey, that’s a lot of neo-conservative claptrap from the 1980s which was picked up by the Liberals in the 1990s and now is being trotted out again by the Conservatives to try and cover for the fact that they essentially have no economic policy for attracting new large factories to central Canada as far as I’m concerned.
Originally all this ‘small business creates jobs’ hoo haw was a PC ploy from the 1984 and 1988 federal election to sell more PC Party membership cards so as to expand their membership base because they basically had none in many parts of the country and what they did was to target every single two bit trades school or private vocational college that gave hair dressing or bar tending or secretarial courses and who were officially recognized as a ‘school’ to go in there and form a PC campus organization so as to sell PC Party membership cards so as to raise money for the party and send more delegates to the convention for one candidate or another. So once they got elected they went about creating a lot of opportunities to create more courses and job opportunities for the people who’d helped them out. So we wound up with a plethora of beauty salons, aestheticians, bar tending schools and so on, all ostensibly to provide personnel for the scads of new jobs which were going to be created in this marvellous Post-industrial ‘service economy’ in the post 1983 recession recovery period.
Well humph, most of these service sector jobs were and still are low paying minimum wage or near to it jobs, which are no substitute for high-paying manufacturing jobs which are unionized. From my understanding of my Economics classes in school, manufacturing is supposed to support service sector jobs. Service sector jobs are not supposed to be bread and butter jobs for primary income jobs.
So JFK and a rising tide, well ho hum. The only rising tide I see coming are from the polar ice caps melting and our coastlines flooding. I hate to sound pessimistic, but whoever is in charge doesn’t know their asshole from their teakettle (or is their asshole from their elbow?) as Mom always put it (Mom was usually right!) Unless the elites in Washington and New York and London and Paris can explain to me the grand cosmic significance of how and why inflicting so much suffering on the people of this world is somehow going to make things right, then I think they should all be ashamed of themselves and take a good look in the mirror and if I were them I would fear for the salvation of my immortal soul at this point. And if they don’t believe they have one, then may God have mercy on them, because judgement shall surely be executed upon them swiftly and unequivocally in the final reckoning, when all accounts shall be balanced, and the temporal wealth which hath accrued to the mighty by hook and by crook shall avail them no mercy with the harvester of souls and the master of the vineyard, who upon his return from his long journey in a foreign land, if he has the misfortune to find his servants living riotously, mistreating his other servants, and squandering his wealth and property, he shall surely unleash his fury upon those unfaithful and unworthy servants and they shall know that indeed their master is slow to anger, but when he does get angry, you’d better not be on his shit list, because you’re going to spend a long time out by the garbage dump at Gehena picking through the detritus of whatever is left of civilization as we once knew it.
I think JFK, being a good Mick, would agree with me.