A Pertinent Reminder: The Rich Are Neither Our Lords nor Saviors

reaganlaughingA resurfacing meme on the interwebz from the Right Wing Culture is that poor people deserve to be poor. There are a lot of levels implicit in such a charge, including xenophobia, adopted self-hatred, unfamiliarity due to structural removal, propaganda, and an underlying belief that the Rich are worthy of not just being rich, but of all praise, glory and honor.

Conservatism worships a messianic and lordly capitalist class.  We see it in the pushback and frenzied reactions whenever someone questions how Walmart treats its employees, or when Third World citizens protest factory and working conditions, or when we ask for fair wages for all, or when and how we talk about unions. We see it in the type of language the Right Wing (and its media) employs to idealize and idolize the rich as Lords and Saviors. In addition to being called Job Creators and Wealth Creators, they are called The Innovators. Right Wing pundits never stop worrying about how the very rich can afford to pay so many taxes and share in the infrastructure costs that the wealthy overwhelmingly benefit from. The Capitalists are talked about in revered tones, as if they are Gods, from whom all blessings flow. And there is this expectation that if they are in any way regulated (such as through the imposition of minimum wages or a unionized workforce), they could close up shop and take their jobs and wealth-making elsewhere.

This is Boss Culture, a mythology of control. Bosses are in control and they get to control how we live. They have created our jobs so they get to define every last aspect of what the job entails. They give their workers a means to livelihood so they get to control every aspect of the lives of their workers. They get to control whether or not we should piss in a cup — and what kind of urine is acceptable. They get to decide who is and who is not worthy of making a living and surviving. They get to decide which politician employees publicly praise, and get to coerce their employees to go to political rallies as an unpaid condition of work. They get to decide which labor laws to enforce. Because it’s their money and they know best what to do with the wealth that they create.

Boss Culture is related to Princess Mythology*, a story we tell ourselves and our children to expect for the rich to rescue us — they are better and they will protect us. Someday my prince will come, and all that. And so we wait for the Boss to do something good for us. If we just put in the right time, if we go to the right balls, if we look attractive enough, if we work hard enough, maybe he’ll notice me and pick me up out of this misery.

Except that they’re not creating the wealth. In a capitalist system, workers create the means of wealth with their productivity, and customers and clients (the overwhelming majority being working class and middle class) provide the finances for the wealth. The wealthy merely store wealth and decide, with their entitled benevolence, where to invest it. They do not invest it into the people but into their products in order to hoard even more money. We pay them exorbitantly to hold onto our resources for us. Whether they earn their keep is not for Boss Culture to decide for us.

Employees, we must protest loudly against Boss Culture — we are not possessions. We are human beings and no one is free to enslave us. That message, that fundamental truth of the human experience needs to be front and center in all of our dealings with Boss Culture.

The rich are not our lords. They are not our shining knights or our charming princes. They do not save us. They cannot. They will not. We will save us.

Spread the word. Kill Boss Culture.


*h/t to Carol Howard Merritt for this connection.


When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


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