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Opinion | Stop eating the cake

Josh Moon

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Just get a loan.

All the whining and moaning from federal workers who are being forced to work without pay was stifled by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, he of the $500 custom-made slippers.

Just get a loan, Ross suggested upon hearing that federal workers were going to homeless shelters and food banks to get food during this longest-ever government shutdown.

Just get a loan.

Later on Thursday, Donald Trump — the guy who was supposed to drain the swamp and be the savior of the little guy — suggested that grocery stores would simply give furloughed government employees food. For free.

This is where the narrator of this nightmare would say: “They won’t.”

But this is where we are, America. These are the people who you’ve elected to lead you. These are the men who you believe have your best interests at heart.

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And they don’t even understand how grocery stores work.

I’m not sure how it happened, or why we allowed it to happen, but America’s government is now controlled by people who generally cannot relate to 90 percent of their constituents.

And the results of that are no surprise.

Wage growth among average workers has stagnated to a distressing degree. Worker protections have been scaled back. Unions that used to provide workers some level of job security and personal peace of mind have been systematically demolished.

In 1965, the ratio of CEO pay to worker pay was 20:2.

Today, it’s 271:1.

Since 1978, worker pay has increased just 11.2 percent.

In that same span, CEO pay has increased 937 percent.

And even that doesn’t tell the entire story. When wealthy bankers and crooked investment firms played fast and loose with our 401Ks, sending the entire economic system to the verge of collapse, who got bailed out?

It wasn’t you, with your upside-down mortgage and stack of bills.

It was the banks who caused the whole mess in the first place who got piles of government cash. And the executives who presided over that fraud were allowed to walk away with millions in severance package pay.

Some entire towns still haven’t recovered from that catastrophe. And yet, somehow, a number of bills that rolled back the protections put in place after the 2008 crash have managed to pass Congress. Hell, some members of Congress — both Republicans and Democrats — stood in the way of the bills’ most stringent new rules and never allowed them to be implemented.

This happened because a whole chunk of America has forgotten how our government is supposed to work. It wasn’t designed for a bunch of people to get together, think the same way and pull in the same direction.

It was built on representation and compromise.

You find someone like you — someone who understands your day-to-day life and struggles and concerns — and you send that person to represent you and all the people like you. And that person votes for your interests, and negotiates and bargains with you in mind.

Ask yourself a serious question: Do you have anything at all in common with the people who represent you in Congress or in your state legislature?

Or did you vote for a person because he or she happened to be wearing the jersey of your favorite political party?

You know the answer, and deep down you know it’s a problem. None of the people representing you has missed a day of work because of car trouble. Or was late on the light bill because one of the kids broke his arm. Or lie in bed at night, wide awake, worrying about what you’ll do if the next job doesn’t come through, or how you’ll make the kid’s tuition payment, or how you’ll simply get through the day.

Not one of them knows your life.

Which is why they believe that making it through a month’s worth of missed paychecks is as simple as running down to the bank for a loan and writing an IOU at Publix.

These people are playing you for fools. They are rigging the game to ensure that they, and the people like them, never, ever lose their wealth and privilege, and that you remain locked into the just-barely-making-it life forever. And you are playing along.

They are serving you the cake. And you are happily eating it.

Stop it.

 

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