In an enraging, yet sometimes rational book on the need for a Universal Basic Income by former SEIU president, now sort-of Columbia U business school prof Andy Stern, the gas-bag sellout repeatedly references the trope of the “American Dream,” as if trying to sell rancid apple pie to a Oxycontin addict in the rain.
For long time, since the post World-War II mega-Shopper’s World gave rise to middle class jobs at the Ford River Rouge factory heyday, this was a legitimate metaphor/ chimera, but that day is done. No one is permitted to invent that fictional marketing scheme agitprop term again- not when that halcyon America is now a Rust Belt city, full of not-employed adults, empty factories, boarded-up houses, drug-selling millennial parents, overweight poor, and 20 medicines-a-day oldsters.
Yet some persist, as is the wont of the huckster and the con artist and the one-track pol. Bernie Sanders, not of the laboring class, no more than a coffee shop orator, invokes the hoary and discredited idea-fixe of restoring America’s factory jobs, but this just shows the inherent falsity of depending on someone not from a class to speak for that class.
Is Bernie a “working man” type? Can you see him with an unlit cigarette in his mouth, holding one toddler in his arm, lunch pail in another, with another ratty kid trailing behind him? Is Brooklyn Bernie a tattoo god, a NASCAR devotee, a barstool Bukowski? Of course not, but he has played one effectively in Vermont, and now the US, but who expects there to be a resurgence of dirty, polluting, foul-spilling factories back in the US? Poor villagers in other countries must now suffer the horrific cancer rates, the foul air, the fetid water, that used to paint the underside of that fabled “American dream,” and if that is outright criminality, to kill so many people’s lives and prospects in others lands, does any Bernie Bro want to rejoin the factory line?
So if that concept is finished – there has not been an “American Dream” for decades, and there is not the slightest prospect of one returning, then the signs outside America’s towns and exurbs must be amended.
Below every New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut town sign, that boasts when the Puritans and the pioneers first drove a stake into the ground, there must, by FSN edict, be an honest acknowledgement of when neoliberalism strangled the town’s institutional functions. Those dates might be when the local factory left, or when town failed to enact zoning, or when the bottom dropped out of the middle class employment arrangement, but visitors must be made aware.