In my experiences, I’ve run across many people who believe business executives are a good choice to be our lawmakers. Many of these same people also complain about the poor treatment of employees and off-shoring of manufacturing jobs, decisions that are often made by business executives. So why exactly do people elect them into public office?
After getting into a variety of debates, I’ve found many people’s logic can be summed up in this statement, “Business leaders are smart people and hard workers who know how to make the right decisions to build companies from the ground up. They are good employers and will use their expertise to fix our government and provide more and better jobs.” If these were the businessmen and women that actually made it into office, I might consider the notion, but this is rarely the case.
Rural conservatives have a strange admiration for business executives as being job creators. Yet, these are the same people who make the big company decisions like downsizing, placing freezes on pay increases, reducing healthcare benefits while increasing employee insurance premium contributions, requring mandatory overtime, all while giving the green light for human resources to treat everyone like a literal resource—or as a threat if they have been harassed or injured in the workplace. Business executives loyalty is always to the stockholders and other investors. They are legally bound to make a profit. If this means eliminating labor overhead, they do.
Our national business culture breeds a superiority complex among corporate executives, making it difficult for them to be kind to their laborers. The free market mandates competition, which good or bad, results in a survival of the fittest mentality that ends up in a quest for the cheapest sources of both labor and materials (like coal). This is the mentality that drives people beyond having a conscious when it comes to the average laborer. For some well-to-do business leaders, it translates into the divine right to take a massive dump on anyone beneath them because, after all, “It’s just business.”
People also seem to forget the golden rule of business that allowed many of our now elected officials to make their fortunes—”It takes money to make money.” The majority of the super wealthy who own the majority of businesses, did not come by their fortunes through a rags to riches story. It came from prior wealth inherited from their predecessors. They have never had to work hard just to survive and provide for their families. They have no understanding of the people who work for them, and therefore, no reason to care about them.
So men like Donald Trump have never felt bad about the millions of dollars their families have made using the cheap electricity and steel that came from coal mined in Appalachia. They don’t think of the issues it has caused our coal mining family members who are fighting to keep their health care and pensions while continuing to deal with the health problems they gained from working in the mines. They believe themselves superior.
John Oliver pointed this out when he brought up Trump’s old quote from a Playboy magazine…
“If I had been the son of a coal miner, I would have left the damn mines. But most people don’t have the imagination — or whatever — to leave their mine. They don’t have ‘it.’” -Donald J. Trump, Playboy March 1990
The “it” he is speaking of is a belief in his own intellect. The majority of us with common sense know that his “it” began with millions of dollars to play around with, inherited from birth. Apparently, in his eyes, those of us whose parents worked all their lives and still didn’t have the money to send us off to college, apparently lack “imagination.” It can’t be taken as anything less than an insult to every working class person in this nation. And don’t think Trump has changed his attitude in the last 27 years. When he told coal miners they’d be working their asses off, he meant it. They will be working their asses off for him and everyone who will make money off the coal mined from our labor.
Trump is only our most recent glaring example. George H. Bush, George W. Bush (along with Dick Cheney), Matt Bevin in Kentucky, Jim Justice in West Virginia, and when you get to the local and state levels, many of the people in politics are local elites: business owners, lawyers, and other people who have the money and time to dabble in politics. They came from families who already had money enough to send them to college. The few from working-class families who did make it to college and worked their own way through are the rare ones, and often make politicians who actually care about the rest of us.
Throughout the years, we’ve been ignorant enough to elect businessmen and women to make our laws, somehow thinking that when they take the oath of office, they undergo a complete transformation, shedding any desire to help their own economic interests to become earnest servants of the people. At best, some of them will conform their ideologies to think they can serve both by providing jobs, but as history has shown us, they often do so without supporting workers rights. They don’t cut off their ties with other corporate executives, and they don’t turn their backs on campaign contributors. They continue to go golfing at exclusive resorts, take trips to the islands, eat dinners that cost more than some of us earn in two weeks, while adding a degree of patriotism to their business by performing “duties” as “public servants.”
The truth is, by handing over the keys of our democracy to a bunch of rich business people, we have lost our freedom to a system of economics and class warfare.
We have been trapped into a life in which our survival, depends upon working for business professionals to pay for what we need from other business professionals. We will always have to worry about making money, about the price of food, the price of gas, the price of our electric bills, our mortgages (or rent), all while trying to be accepted by a society that, thanks to marketing professionals, judges us not by how kind and generous we are, but whether or not our asses are covered with overpriced underwear made by some poor kid in a Vietnamese sweatshop.
If we work, we should work for our communities. Our local communities need to be able to supply their own food without relying on some truck to bring it in from thousands of miles away. Each community needs to be able to supply its own energy instead of relying on distant companies to bring it in while holding us hostage to our bills. Imagine having the peace of mind of knowing we have everything we want and need in our own communities.
Years ago Hank Williams Jr. released “A Country Boy Can Survive,” but the sad truth is, these days many “country boys” couldn’t survive, at least not without working 50 hours or more a week. That’s why so many have been voting in business leaders to help them keep the jobs they are more or less slaves to. In Appalachia, they are even voting for business leaders that destroy the lands and pollute the water a country boy would need to survive.
Think on it a little while…