(Planet Me)
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Third World America, Huffington

The Huffington Post
has a great many things to answer for. Not least, the fact that it expects many of its contributors to work for nothing, for glory and recognition, and not for money. You can eat glory. You can make rent with recognition. Why then does a profitable (and it would still be profitable if it paid its contributors, I am sure) operation that is one of the most recognised voices still too skinflint to pay the people who manufacture its main attraction : the words?

Who knows. But Huffington fails to address this in her polemic. Designed for the same kind of market as those who chinstrokingly read Michael Moore and are convinced I AM RIGHT! (and often they are), Amanda - or perhaps, her unpaid ghostwriter - demonstrate a scathing polemic of the failure of the American Dream. The world where, for the first time, the living standards of the generation behind you are going to be lower than yours. And in ever decreasing circles, an aggressive feudalism will consume your way of life. The gap between the rich and poor is wider than it has been for 80 years. The median income has shrunk. Those without medical insurance are becoming an ever bigger army of sick and old and poor. When America said "Give me your sick and your poor, your tired and your weary..." it never finished its promise : and I will exploit them to their unmarked grave.

Viewed from the prism of the rest of the world, every line of this tome carried with it the kind of shocked arrogance that no longer applies. The rest of the world has long been used to being exploited by big business - ask the Bhopal survivors, for a start - and for America finally to rue what it has sown is sadly, no surprise. The phrase that permeates every line is that "It Couldn't Happen Here - but it just did."

Every chapter is wrought with sad, common, heartbreaking tales of the cruelty of unemployment, of the fact that the game is rigged to wage slavery, and that of leaving university with enormous debt, no income certainty, no pension, and no hope of getting on the property ownership ladder until your parents die, and what is one expected to do? Riot? That's just rampant, mindless criminality. The battle is laid clear, though somewhat brazenly, that there is a war between who will serve and who will eat and no amount of articulate rage will solve the problem. Paying your writers, on the other hand, will.

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