Monday, September 29, 2008

Singing 'dem Middle Class Blues

I'm reading Diary by Chuck Palahniuk, the same guy who wrote Fight Club. In each chapter of Diary, he gives something of a weather report. The chapter I read on the Metro coming home pretty much sums up my mood this evening:

Just for the record, today's weather is nervous disgust with tentative apprehension.
If I were having personal weather, that would be it: disgusted and apprehensive. You see, the particular stagnant pool where this Mosquito spends most of his time is in downtown Washington, DC, at a trade association (translation: lobbying shop) the members of which have significant culpability in the current financial meltdown. Since the subprime loan problem first appeared, culminating in today's legislative disaster, going to work has been about as much fun as a root canal.

My personal weather also includes some discouragement. As a Washington native, I have observed for some years that the people who are supposed to watch over us - make the laws, spend the tax money, etc. have no particular interest in doing their jobs - not when there's an election to be won, a corporation to be courted. I've watched as laws have passed that serve not the American people, but some corporation - Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Food, and all the other special interests that have just a few more bucks than I do.

With no small amount of open-mouthed amazement, I've seen vast numbers of people in this county vote - twice (sort of) - for an administration that in no way serves their interests. The sleight of hand that got this president and his gang elected will keep historians busy for a long, long time. I wonder if they'll ever find what flavor Kool Aid caused good, honest people to get caught up in diversionary issues like flag burning, abortion and Gay marriage, convinced that those sins touched their lives so directly that they would - as is now being proven in every news story - give up their futures and the futures of their children.

And you're damned right I'm apprehensive. For the first time in my working career, I'm fearful of what could happen with my job. Trade assocations depend on members and my members are dropping like dominoes. We depend on them to buy our educational products, attend our meetings and conventions, pay our big membership fees, and tell us what they want from the big 7-11 on Capitol Hill. Another round of layoffs (I've survived two) isn't out of the question considering the madness of the last couple of weeks.

I'm keenly aware of how vulnerable I am. Credit card debt, meager savings, and monthly bills put me squarely in the one-paycheck-away-from-disaster column. I break into a sweat when I consider what all my middle-aged meds would cost me without health insurance. I try to remember when I'm passing mental judgment on some homeless guy that there but for the grace of God. The reality, though, is that my middle class house of cards provides for a slightly thicker blanket and a park bench with a pad. So little distance, really.

No bailout, no rescue legislation for me.

As long as I'm bitchin', I might as well mention how utterly disappointed I am that my candidate isn't willing to put his balls on the line and come back to DC to vote one way or another on the bailout. I get it - if it all goes to hell, he can confidently say he didn't back it, and if all goes well, no harm no foul.

It's foul alright.

So, I've had three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and two glasses of milk - a little comfort food to help put this to rights - at least a little bit. It will be put to rights, of course, the economy is like that. We (the collective rather than royal) will pay for the excesses of the recent market and then within a couple of years it'll cycle around again. A new president, the Change candidate maybe, might stimulate things. Who knows?

For now, I'm trying to figure out how to head downtown every day as the pit in my stomach grows larger.


Mood: Discouraged and pissed