Work is a Four Letter Word
By Richard Girard
"I have long been of the opinion that if work were such a splendid thing the rich would have kept more of it for themselves."
Bruce Grocott (b. 1940), British Labour politician. Quoted in: Observer (London, 22 May 1988).
Language is the most powerful tool that humanity has ever developed for both its advancement and repression.
More precise than a surgeon's scalpel, mightier than any sword, as crude and unfeeling as an ogre's club: language's use and misuse has inspired and aroused humanity's worthiest achievements as well as its most horrific tragedies; too often in the name of some transient cause or vainglorious triumph.
Masters of the rhetorical art too often believe that the power of their words can overcome any insufficiency of truth in their argument. If stated with sufficient volume both in terms of quantity of prose, and the repression of other information by the sheer weight of that massive volume, they believe they can turn black into white, up into down, slavery into freedom, and wrong into right.
We the People of the United States have permitted the deluge of propaganda from unscrupulous commentators and politicians to override both our knowledge and our common sense. We have done this while permitting ourselves to be sold a bill of goods of continuing or improving governmental services, while taxes are continually reduced for those who are best able to pay.
The rude indifference of the plutocrats' propagandists to either reality or the needs of the 90% of Americans who have no claim to a seat at or near the oligarchs' table, has crippled America's middle class (those 75% of the American people in 1980 who were between the lowest 15% in annual income and the top 10% in annual income), leaving them increasingly destitute and shorn of any reasonable safety net.
In 1976, the top one percent of the American population received 8.9% of the nation's income. In 2007, that same one percent received 23.5% of our national income. The gain of 14.6% of personal income in the previous thirty-one years, due to the profound changes in governmental regulatory and tax policy (beginning with Ronald Reagan), represents a destructive redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class that I do not hear a single conservative commentator question, let alone condemn. Yet, if a similar redistribution of our national income via government policy were to take place from the top 1% to the bottom 90%, the cries of Communist expropriation from the right would echo from every mansion and hobby ranch in the country. (Institute for Policy Studies, Program on Inequality and the Common Good; October, 2009.) www.extremeinequality.org .
If a redistribution of wealth is wrong in one direction, it is equally wrong in the other. There are no guarantees in the Constitution for retention of wealth, or the creation of a hereditary aristocracy. In fact, both situations were frowned upon by many of America's greatest thinkers including Jefferson, Madison, de Tocqueville, Lincoln, and both Roosevelts.
All of the economic policies of the New Deal and the Great Society were not designed as attacks upon the wealthiest Americans, per se, but rather as a leveling of the playing field between the wealthiest members of our society and the rest of us, in order to create the large and vibrant middle class that Aristotle stated in his Politics for a successful, constitutionally limited government:
"Thus it is manifest that the best political community is formed by citizens of the middle class, and those states are likely to be well-administered in which the middle class is large, and stronger if possible than both the other classes [poor or rich], or at any rate than either singly; for the addition of the middle class turns the scale, and prevents either of the extremes from being dominant"The reason [for failure of these states when established] is that the middle class is seldom numerous in them, and whichever party, whether the rich or the common people [poor], transgresses the mean and predominates, draws the constitution its own way, and thus arises either oligarchy or democracy [mob rule]." Aristotle, Politics, Book IV, Chapter 11; translated by Benjamin Jowett.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt realized (with the help of men such as Marriner Eccles, who he appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve) that a strong middle class was the only effective long term counterbalance to the power of the plutocrats. These greedy oligarchs had proven with four depressions in FDR's lifetime that they could not be completely trusted to use their own wealth in a manner that was also good for America as a whole. FDR also realized that the best way to deal with Aristotle's other concern, "mob rule" (or what is sometimes mistakenly called "democracy"), was to enlarge the middle class downwards, and increase upward social mobility.
The plutocrats have neither respect nor understanding for the great mass of workers who make their vast wealth possible. For most of these greed driven miscreants, the people who work for them are barely a step above the livestock they own, or the hounds that protect their estate's grounds at night.
Within the world of language, the word "f*ck" is the act, just as the word "f*cker" is the individual who commits the act, and both are considered obscene, although both have as their root--I was told in an English class years ago--in a very innocuous Anglo-Saxon term that means "to plant seed." To the plutocrats, the words "work" and "worker" seem to occupy every bit as much an obscene place in their selfish little minds. Their primary purpose in life seems to be to reduce the amount of actual work they have to do for the money they earn, while minimizing the personal and financial risk involved in achieving an ever increasing income.