Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Class War Soliloquy

 (Ed. note: This discourse was left as a comment in the previous thread. So that it may get the wider attention and the bigger font it so richly merits, I am taking the liberty of re-posting it here.)


by Jay - Ottawa

To increase the Quality of Opportunity
Or to decrease the Inequality of Income:
That is the question.

Whether ‘tis nobler to salute the gifted,
The avaricious, and the lucky born ––
And even to support them further as they
Zoom down the unobstructed lanes
Made special for them
At full throttle in daddy’s caddie
On the wide road to Comfort
Greed and Excess

And, by the way, for all of whom
The Starting Line of their existence
Is so f*cking close to the Finish Line
Of still more good fortune
Whose Starting Line may even be
On the doorstep of the Finish Line
Whether or not they backstroke,
Butterfly or float in the warm
Waters of their own good luck ––

Or to pivot in favor of the unlucky born
Whose daddies sadly had no caddies
Who are average, more or less,
In body and mind, financially or socially
And who strain from birth to death
To climb over the many obstacles
Laid down between them
And that faraway Finish Line
By capricious gods
And righteous men

What blameworthy fools
Those born unlucky
Short of physical wholeness
Short on intellect
Short of connected friends
Blind to the balanced view
What fools to have picked
As their Starting Line
Of all places
The doorstep of Want
And to remain stuck there by
Circumstances beyond their control
Light years from Barely Enough
Where, so they claim,
Quality of Opportunity
Means absolutely nothing.


ste-vo said...

I copied and pasted to my FB Page giving credit to Jay-Ottawa and Sardonicky.. Several friends have already liked. It leaves me without words. It should be posted at as well.

annenigma said...


Excellent Jay. You get an A! If Mother Superior were here she would surely give you a gold star. I'd like to see this published all over the place, including the NYT. If I see a place for it, I hope you don't mind if we copy and paste it and give you the appropriate credit.

The bottom line (or bottom rung) is the irrefutable fact that one cannot climb the ladder of opportunity when there is no ladder within reach to get started. We should be given those ladders at an affordable price or get them for free, as in free college education. For decades corporations have been given tax breaks for research and development, but parents have not been given the same generous write-offs for their children's education even though it would benefit everyone.

We could also consider the basic need for a roof over one's head. The current housing market, either for purchase or rental, is becoming unaffordable even for working people and certainly for the unemployed. Take the Tax Code - please! That 75,000 page monstrosity gives most of the breaks to those who don't need it. Second, third, and fourth luxury (investment) homes with enough land for a horse or two get agricultural tax deductions or subsidies - even when they are in the city.

On another front, the banks are now selling (again) the mortgages on the houses they currently rent out that they scoffed up illegally through their mortgage fraud game.

It looks like the circle will be unbroken for a long time to come, judging by who owns and runs this country and the Tax Code that's written just for them. It proves the Golden Rule: those with the gold make the rules - and the laws and the Tax Code.

Did I miss the speech where President Obama promised to fix all this? It's his second term when we were supposed to see the real Obama. Oh oh, I think we have.

Will said...

Another wonderful creation, Jay. So good, in fact, that your work was fast-tracked through the normal guest post submission protocols straight to a featured spot on the salon's marquee. Well done, man!

I couldn't help but think of our old buddy George "born on third but thought he hit a triple" Bush as at least part of the inspiration for your piece. I found a recent interview with Chris Hedges where he discusses Dubya and "The Pathology of the Rich." Nothing we haven't heard before, but interesting nonetheless:

Jay - Ottawa said...

Sardonicky’s a great site, and you commenters were on a roll last weekend. I just sat back and applauded. Even the trolls –– short form and long form –– do their part by fanning the fire in our bellies.

That doggerel elevated to a post was inspired by Karen’s previous post and, in particular, one of the predictable contrarian comments. Place my flash verse wherever you please if you think it worth a second look.

Jay - Ottawa said...

As for Obama himself, the chorus of his severe but clear-eyed critics keeps multiplying across the land. Let them carry on. I myself have run out of words to define him.

On the unavailable ladders of opportunity: I regularly visit a nearby hospital. When you enter the lobby you stand before two escalators side by side. One moves up, one moves down. The clinics, the docs, the nurses, the technicians –– and, ideally, successful treatment and a better life –– await you upstairs.

What if the hospital administration appointed a whimsical gatekeeper to let a few people step onto the escalator that goes up. If the lucky ones also possess the admirable American can-do spirit, they can hurry things along by taking a few steps up as they go. Bravo. Write them up in Forbes. And if a few among the select take an occasional step backward, not to worry. The escalator will still deliver them to the top in short order.

Our whimsical gatekeeper would allow the rest of the visitors the opportunity to reach the upstairs via the down escalator, which he then speeds up. Fiendish, eh, but not impossible for those willing to work hard and play by the rules.

With a little sweat, a few athletic types might bound up the down escalator faster than it takes them down. But the pregnant teenager, probably not. Nor the guy in a wheelchair, nor the asthmatic, nor the mother with a sick kid on each arm. Etc., etc.

May we at very least help them by stopping the down escalator, which represents the laws and systems to keep lesser people in their place? Dare we meddle directly with outcomes? Capitalism as practiced in America today says ‘no.’

Call in a swat team to surround the up escalator and clear out the Occupy Up Escalator demonstrators. Otherwise, you'll wake up in a socialist hell of endlessly helping fellow citizens. Have tame journalists peddle the tried and true American line: From each according to his selfishness, to each according to his luck.

annenigma said...


That's the medical-legal diagnosis of that rich Texas teenager who killed 4 people in a reckless drunk/drugged driving incident. The wealthy ruling class, apparently even judges, are suffering from this condition at epidemic levels. It could even be bordering on a global pandemic.

'... privilege prevented him from grasping the consequences of his actions.'

Sentences for the rich, if any, are time in a country club rehab. They used to serve time in country club prisons, but not anymore. You could say they have climbed their ladder of opportunity right over the prison walls, with the help of their injustice system.

James F Traynor said...

Society (at least ours) never really gets pissed off at the rich grifter, but a poor, or a lower middle class one? Katy, bar the door! We go bananas. And if it's a kid? Throw the book at him! Death penalty! And in spite of this - in spite of it - the majority do not become grifters. That's the damn wonder of it. And, at the same time, the sadness of it.

But among the rich, especially the aspiring rich, despite what they say, to be a grifter (except for the term itself) is, however grudgingly, an admired trait, though given other labels. Amazing. And what's amazing still, our society accepts it, even more than most.

fahrenheit451 said...


Great piece; I feel if I add anything in mundane prose, it will undercut the higher power of poetry. And Karen, you handled it just right. So I'll save my musings on the American Dream for another time. Well done.

Zee said...


Even a contrarian troll can perceive and deplore the inequitable application of the law in this country.

It is, I believe, well-documented that minorities inevitably receive harsher sentences than do white--and especially rich, white criminal defendants for the same crime.

I just don't know what to do about it. Is it better if judges are appointed or elected? Do we provide minority defendants with adequate public defenders? Would it be better to require high-powered law firms to do much more pro bono criminal defense work, and maybe do away with much of our Public Defenders offices?

I just don't know.

What is the answer to unequal protection under the law?