Thursday, January 17, 2008

You design, we decide.

In my mind, the set I've just loaded-in is representative of the disconnect between the so-called information society and the rest of us. Framed out of tubular steel, it produces the illusion of being very slender while still being very strong. It's also been designed with a CAD program that is a marvel of functionality. It allows for 3D views, cut lists,cost estimates and multiple color combinations that the client can approve of without every leaving their office. It is also usually "drafted" by someone who is much more familiar with a hard drive than a drill press, with the language of software than the language of truck drivers. And when the lack of familiarity with the shop process collides with the computer process, it's the language of truck drivers that is heard the loudest when bolts holes don't line up. When the inexperienced doesn't account for the build up of welds when making joints, things can get loud and profane. It's the workman’s skill that makes the real the symmetry of the beautiful drawing on the dirty, sagging floor of the studio.

In my mind this typifies what is going on in much of the business and political world today. There are business school graduates running businesses who have never even watched people unloading the trucks in the business they're running and would never consider unloading one themselves. To them, a repetitive stress injury is an abstraction that only affects the cost of the health plan and not the reality of not being able to play with the kids after work because of the pain. Because of their income levels, politicians can relate in a real sense to tax brackets but only in an abstract sense to poverty levels because they have never felt the stinging isolation of being poor. Designers with MFA's who are breaking into the entertainment industry by doing computer drafting work aren't going to be able to relate to the shop carpenters or stagehands that are going to work the multiple 16 hour days it will take to build or load in the beautiful drawings.

To complain to the boss will result in some flippant remark about “that if I don’t like it here etc, etc”. At this point I know that his kid’s tuition has been paid for, his greens fees have been paid for and that he thinks that he’s probably immune to being fired. For the new designer, one can only hope that he or she acquires his or her skill without someone getting hurt because of the hacks required to make the illusion real.

As for politicians, I have a new rule of thumb. The candidate who has a net worth that is closest to mine will have my vote. I’ve had enough of Ivy League millionaires trying to tell me that I have to live my life according to their standards which they can apply to themselves at their discretion, meaning if they don’t get caught, it’s okay. The operatives of the two major parties seem to have less and less in common with the people they govern and are not working at improving the lives of the governed. They are skilled at fund raising from major donors, improving the tax code for the said donors and getting the government off “our” backs. By getting the government off our backs they really mean that corporations can have free run over the environment, workers, communities, our retirement system, our military, our health care, our education and then pit us against each other for their cynical ends. Here’s a radical idea. Lets bring the government back. Big badass government. A government that will take tax cheats to court, sues polluters, protects workers, gives us the health care we require, the retirement we’ve earned, the education our children really require and allows all of us to live in peace and prosperity. In the words of Lincoln, “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”


Humble Nailbanger said...

Great post, and so true.

I guess a good question would be: who is the candidate closest to your net worth? Congressmen make well over 6 figures. Maybe Kucinich? He's an IATSE member too, you know....

One NYC StageHand said...

For a visual reference chart as to the relative net worth of the 2008 Presidential Candidates check out Memling Index , a website by someone with way to much time on their hands. It’s a great time waster.

You’ll have to look closely but Kucinich is there. And for once in his life, Kucinich towers over me. And if you included Bloomberg in the chart, he would tower over everyone.

I think here the use of the cliché "Think Globally, Act Locally" would actually be appropriate. I don't feel comfortable committing myself to any of the major presidential candidates with the real potential to win as I just don't really feel inspired by any of them. The lack of choice is worse for the Republicans but I really can't get worked up about any of the Dems. Clinton is more of the same and Obama is no real friend to Labor. The Democratic Party really became the party of the workingman only as the result of the Great Depression and the fear of violent Socialist revolution. They were driven to accept the civil rights movement only as a result of the non-violent demonstrations protesting the Jim Crow laws that they helped to put in place and kept in place in order to retain power in the Deep South. The old-line AFL type unions tended to be conservative and the more radical CIO unions became bogged down in bureaucracy and knee jerk liberalism.

As Will Rogers once said, "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat."

I think the solution to many of the country’s problems will be found when people of good faith take control of their lives and step up to a commitment to improve their community. The answer will come from the bottom up. Local people running for school boards or city council or county legislature, unaffiliated to the traditional parties or aligned with the Workers Party, the Green Party or whomever. Then we will have a functioning, multiparty, democracy and not what we have today, a corrupt corpocracy.