• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Political Kitsch and Economic Crime

It couldn't have happened to a more deserving creep: out of the blue, a month before the elections the airwaves are filled with the stunning revelation that Meg Whitman employed an illegal Latina nanny. ... for nine years. Oh but it gets better. When the Social Security Administration requested she clarify the small matter of a mis-match between name and number. ... Whitman ignored the request ..... for six years. Oh buts it gets even better still. After requiring the illegal Latina to work unpaid overtime, Whitman fired her without cause the day after she declared her candidacy for California's governship.

But that's just the script. As for the drama, the allegations got read to a phalanx of press cameras by a perfectly coiffed and facial'ed Gloria Aldred in tones of aggrieved and outraged victimhood while The Victim herself, all but dressed in sackloth looked on plaintively and providesdsobbing punctuations to Aldred's delivery. When the complaint was read, Aldred turned to the helpless, illegal, victimized victim and hugged her with emotive solidarity as the victim emoted some more. What next? Aldred standing shoulder to shoulder with Oppressed Nanny on the rush hour subway to Brooklyn? It was enough to out-emote the most contrived and collusive trials ever performed in the Roman Forum.

We did some quick calculations. At 15 hours a week, at $23.00 an hour, 15 months lost wages from unlawful termination comes out to $20,700.00. That's less than peanuts for a $400.00 an hour lawyer like Aldred. So Aldred's accountants must have rustled up a hell of a lot of unpaid overtime to beef up the "compensables".

The whole thing has the unmistakeable air of a political contrivance -- a bloody shirt, a "Grover, Grover, Where's my Pa?" We wonder if Aldred realizes that her act has become political kitsch?

But what is not political kitsch or, more importantly, economic kitsch, is that a woman of Whitman's colossal net worth paid another human being spit in the bucket wages of $23.00 an hour.

Of course, the capitalist answer, is that $23.00 an hour was at least, if not more than, the going market rate. But that is precisely the kind of pseudo justification that makes capitalism so disgusting -- it justifies its conduct by the disparity of income it itself creates. It is truly nauseating.

One would think that a person in Whitman's position would want to display her magnanimity, her ability to be over-flowingly generous. A truly generous spirit would say: I have more money than I know what to do with, so I will at least make sure that anyone who is fortunate enough to work for me gets paid more money than they need. This is what it means to "shower blessings" and just as God has showered blessings on Whitman, it was Whitman's Christian duty to shower blessings on people who made her bed, cut her lawn and washed her floors.

Instead, Whitman sees nothing wrong with a system that generates such incredible disparities of wealth and feels no compunction in behaving as miserly and contemptuously as she can get away with. Marie Antoinette paid more for less.