Editor’s Note: This poem originally appeared in the old “Shared Sacrifice” online journal. The poem premiered on May 7, 2009. It’s obviously even more relevant today.
Do you really not understand
that you are an instrument, a tool,
used by your “superiors”
to conduct their business as usual?
While you gather in gangs and packs
and beat up others in your economic class,
men with your same color and all of the money
keeping breaking it off – Big Time – in your ass.
You keep bending over, taking it, their authority, that is,
obediently doing all of their dirty work.
You allow them to take everything for themselves
and all you get it is this lousy T-shirt
that says “white power”. Not yours. Theirs.
If you had any, power, that is,
you’d be openly pissed off at the cause – them –
and stop beating up on people who are only the symptoms.
While Richie Rich was outsourcing our jobs
and foreclosing on Americans’ homes,
shutting off Grandma’s electricity
and turning her healthcare claims down
you were busy beating up Black guys,
Mexicans, Arabs and Asians
instead of standing up and facing the fact
you’ll never be – and never were – one of them,
those guys on the top of the money pyramid
who won the pissing contest by pissing on you.
You take it out on the people on your side
who Richie Rich has been pissing on, too.
But it’s so important to you to be a Big Dog
and you’re scared to take it out on Richie Rich.
You pretend you’ve got something in common with him
when actually all you are is just Richie’s bitch.
When people rush across America’s borders
to take dirty, dangerous jobs that don’t pay shit,
Richie laughs his ass off all the way to the bank.
While you beat up his victims, he makes out like a bandit.
Richie Rich destroyed Mexico’s economy
so he could get desperate people to run here
and work for slave wages he grudgingly pays them
so he can do an end-run around American unions.
When he sends jobs to sweat shops in Asia
it’s not the fault of the hungry people he employs,
who he’s starved with our “free” trade agreements,
written by his friends, Milton Friedman’s Chicago Boys.
And when a country won’t bend over and take it,
that’s when Richie Rich sends you in
with shock and awe and depleted uranium
to secure that country’s resources for him.
It’s a pattern he’s repeated through history.
And what you did overseas he’s planning for you.
When he’s got all the “Third” World’s resources,
he’s coming back to America and taking yours, too.
When Richie sold you that “Liar Loan”
and said you didn’t need any proof of income,
that the value of the house would skyrocket
before the rate adjusted, you just believed him.
He’s the banker. Why wouldn’t you believe him?
He wouldn’t do something that would lose him any money,
not unless he was planning a spectacular heist
by purposely bankrupting his company and his country,
and gambling your mortgage money in order to lose it
so he could hollow out the United States Treasury,
and claim that unless Congress would meet his ransom demands,
he’d pull the plug on the American economy.
Richie also bought the prisons and the healthcare system.
He’s got his eye on making schools for-profit, too.
He let the infrastructure rot and killed off the unions.
Now he wants to take Medicare and Social Security from you.
He hides his ill-gotten gains in the Bahamas
and refuses to pay his fair share of the taxes.
He bought all our “representatives” in Congress,
so the American Dream’s just one more of his assets.
How much more of this shit are you willing to take?
Immigrants and minorities are Richie’s tools, too.
He wants us all clawing at each other’s throats
and the tool Richie uses is you.
Richie Rich bought off your parents off real cheap.
The New Deal made it seem that they had a chance,
not to live a life of luxury like Richie,
but for you to move up to the Middle Class.
But no sooner than Richie Roosevelt
had signed the New Deal into fact,
the rest of Richie Rich’s financial gang
started taking the social safety net back.
By the 70s Japan and the European countries,
almost wiped out economically in World War II,
roared back to challenge American economic supremacy,
but the Chicago School boys knew just what to do.
They ran a hack actor, Ronnie Ray Gun,
who gunned down our right to bargain with the boss,
cut taxes on the members of Richie’s crew,
even convinced us it wouldn’t cause us any losses.
Clinton rammed NAFTA down American workers’ throats
and let outsourcing and offshoring accelerate.
He signed off on the deregulation of insurance and banks,
which created the financial meltdown we’re in the midst of today.
Dubya was so smug he rubbed our noses in it
and people started to see the picture all too clearly,
so Richie Rich replaced him with Barack Obama,
like a change in color would change Richie’s policy.
Richie’s crew makes up both political parties.
and they don’t give a shit about religion or color,
but they hope that you do, so you’ll keep being the tool
they can use to keep themselves firmly in power.
The rich know a thing or two about solidarity.
They know it’s important for them to stick together.
They sure as hell all stand up against the rest of us
in a Richie Rich corporate collective.
If this sounds a little bit like a union, it is.
And that’s exactly why they don’t want you to join one.
They don’t want us together at the bargaining table.
They want their union to take us on one-by-one.
The ball’s in your court. There is no free lunch.
Democracy’s no spectator sport. You have to participate.
Shut off the TV. Or better yet toss it out.
It’s a drug, and Richie bought the news media anyway.
When you attack other workers – any other workers –
it just goes to make Richie richer, fool.
He makes money convincing you his interests are yours
and gets you to fight his fights while he’s pissing on you.
Your problem’s the guy with his boot on your neck,
not the guy pinned by Richie’s other boot.
The Rich stick together to stick it to you.
Get together. Stand up. Join the union.
“You want to be treated like men? You want to be treated fair? Well, you ain’t men to the (coal) company, you’re equipment. They’ll use you ’til you wear out or break down (or you’re buried alive under a slate fall) and then get a new one, and they don’t care what color it is or where it comes from.” “They got you fightin’ white against the colored, native against foreign… When you know there ain’t but two sides in the world – them that work and them that don’t. That’s all you got to know about the enemy.” –from John Sayles’ MATEWAN
“The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy and second, the chronic terror among the rich lest we get one.” – Edward Dowling
“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes to expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, pull back the curtains, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.” – Frank Zappa