Friday, September 07, 2007

The American Ruling Class

If you haven't read Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, get thee to the library or bookstore, posthaste!

Or, you can watch the soon to be released film The American Ruling Class, a "dramatic-documentary-musical" (starring Harper's Magazine's Lewis Lapham).

The film's best moment comes with a Barbara Ehreneich interview. In the late 90s Ehrenreich went undercover to take on various low-wage jobs (waitress, hotel chambermaid among them) and then report on how difficult it was to live on those earnings. She discusses her findings here, which culminate in a full-blown musical number, in which employees sing about being nickel-and-dimed. The scene is divine madness. <Mathew Hays, Montreal Mirror>

Check out the clip:

And it includes a modified version of this passage from the book (as previously quoted here):
The ‘working poor’ as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.


Polly Jones said...

That was great.

It is amazing that these people get casts as the needy ones who the rich benevolently give "help" to.

rich1107 said...

That clip was truly exceptional. Thank you for making me aware of Ms. Ehrenreich's work.

The left blogs down here would accomplish so much more by putting their effors into organizing labor than electing these sheep to office. Empower the people and eventually you will get elected officials that actually work for us instead of the corporations.

I am buying the book for myself and my two adult children...Thanks again:)

Anonymous said...

argh, the clip woulnd't play for me. but i can tell you as a person who's had many a 'macjob' in factories, chambermaiding, pumping gas, you name it.....what killled me off was the number of workers who didn't vote ndp. hello! and the number of people who treat you like faceless drones. hello again.

low wages, shitty benefits if any (too many still too afraid to sign on to a union for fear of getting caught and fired beforehand).....mostly for body sacrifice....labour is involved and cpp alone isn't enough to cover the aches and pains before and after retirement. forget about any savings.

there's a reason unions still exist, but forget the internationals...they're as corrupt and greedy as the corporations.

John Kirby said...

Thanks, Red Jenny, for posting the clip. The final film is coming out
on DVD and the Sundance Channel in the next few months, and you can
click on "DVD email notification"on our website if you'd like to be
made aware of the release:

In regard to organizing labor, I agree with the commentators here,
both about its importance and the corruption of the large trade

I have been reading the now deceased political historian Walter Karp,
who has a fascinating take on the unions as tools of the party bosses,
who in the U.S., behind all the hoopla in "collusive harmony" with
each other and of course the large corporations.

But Karp has the politicos as the real power, rather than the
financial instituions or the corporations. Depite my roots in
Marxist/anarcho-syndacalist thinking, I am tending toward agreement
with him.

I have also come to the conclsion, as King once did, that the problems
of the poor and indeed the shrinking middle class are directly tied to
war and the threat of war.

Karp makes a persuasive argument along these lines; foreign war for
him is used to destroy citizen's movements at home, and he does a
persuasive job in "The Politics of War: The Story of Two Wars Which
Altered Forever the Political Life of the American Republic

I highly reccomend that book and in particular his "Indispensible
Enemies: The politics of Misrule in America", which shows the
mechanism by which the two parties collude against the citizenry,
against the republic, in order to maintain and expand their power.
Both have been republished by the Franklin Square Press.

By the way, redjenny, my daughter is named after Emma Goldman and Rosa Luxemborg (reflecting both the anarchist and socialist raditions).. thus, Emma Rose.


John Kirby
Director, "The American Ruling Class"

princesspatrice said...

After watching this clip, it made me realize a few things. I always saw being a cashier at Wal-Mart or Burger King as a mindless, not so worthy task. And this clip brings to light that these people do alot more than one sees. They also aren't getting paid enough for everything that they do.It makes no sense to not increase the pay of those who make mine and your life so much more easier, but pay athletes millions to play a game they love and have a natural talent for. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, but America isn't helping to enable people to have opportunites or to obtain a better life by keeping minmum wage so low and the cost of living so high.