The Ladder of Life
Rearranging the chairs on the Titanic could be a metaphor for all the harried activities the captains of our Federal and State governments are doing a couple of weeks before the Ship of State sinks. I prefer to refer to these quibbling activities as placing people on the different rungs on the ladder of life. Those on the top rung and the bottom rungs have been permanent fixtures, but we must move the rest of the participants on proper rungs.
“We the People” in the Preamble didn’t include all people. In the early years of the United States, voting rights were commonly extended to white males who owned property. Historian Charles Beard studied the backgrounds of the 55 men who met to draw up the Constitution and found that a majority of them were lawyers, and most of them were men of wealth, interested in protecting land, slaves, manufacturing, or shipping.
Beard found that most had some direct economic interest in establishing a strong federal government to protect their interests. The constitution didn’t represent slaves, women, servants and men without property. Abigail Adams, John Adams Wife, was in my mind a fighter for women’s rights and abhorred slavery, but to no avail. If you haven’t read her biography, Laurie Carter Noble has written a brief article Abigail on the internet.
Howard Zinn maintains, “What we learn about the past does not give us absolute truth about the present, but it may cause us to look deeper than the glib statements made by political leaders and the “experts” quoted in the press.”
The facade taking place today in Washington pertains to the positioning of our population on the ladder of life. Who will be on the top rung and other rungs of the ladder? During colonial days slaves occupied the bottom rung while Indians, women. servants and non land owners were on the lower rungs above them. The wealthy always kept a buffer between them with artisans and small land owners to prevent any insurrection by the oppressed.
This distribution changed often as the country expanded. The slaves remained on the bottom rung, but the Indians were eliminated as we took their land to move west. Those we didn’t kill were put on reservations.
Immigration was encouraged because of a need for cheap labor. The Irish, migrating here after the potato famine challenged those on the lower rungs. Many of these immigrants and others from places like Germany, Italy and China came but most returned to their own countries because of the inhuman treatment and low wages received.
Since those days and with the industrial revolution people had had a constant struggle to stay off the bottom rung. Blacks owned the bottom rung and still do, but are now being challenged by the Mexicans. Some blacks moved up the ladder after the Civil Rights movement, but those in the ghettos are a short step above slavery. Muslims are now entering the picture, but will never replace the blacks. The Jews were also in the race during the days of overt anti-Semitism.
Those in the center of the ladder are slowly slipping towards the bottom and the downward spiral will continue until they become angry enough to unite. This happened in the late 30s and early 40s when the labor unions took charge. The reason they could take charge was they were needed. The military draft solved the unemployment problem and a need for war material increased manufacturing.
I know I sound like a malcontent, but malcontents are needed to stimulate thinking. Edward Gibbon in the “Decline and fall of the Roman Empire” says “No surer sign of a countries political and cultural decay than blindness to its unmistakable beginnings.”
With our government controlled by a few wealthy families and our military distributed throughout the world our resemblance to the Roman Empire is more pronounced every day.
After 61 years we still maintain over 37,000 troops in Korea. I don’t know off hand how many troops we have in 93 overseas locations. This was one of the reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire.
Now for the good news: The tax cut for the wealthy has shown its merit as Maria Shriver has now been able to buy a 10 million dollar mansion next door to Arnold and Crystal Palin is going to move up the ladder with her mother with her new book advising young people the art of not being impregnated.