Thursday, May 22, 2008

Noted, with Previous Observations

Another example of neo-colonialism in America:

Like many immigrant families, he notes, his parents took education seriously. His brother, now a property developer in Britain, went to UCLA; he went to Oxford, where he earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy, politics and economics, going on to the London School of Economics for a master's degree and earning his doctorate from Cornell University's department of development sociology .

"At home, we had nutritious food, mostly Indian food," he says. But soon, long working hours and busy schedules made convenience foods appealing. "Sometimes we ate in the car," he admits.

"When I explain to people outside the U.S. that 20 percent of American fast-food meals are eaten in cars, they are absolutely gobsmacked," Patel says. "They ask me, 'Is it because Americans love their cars so much?'

"I explain that Americans are working so hard in order to access the things people in other industrialized nations take for granted - health care, education, a pension, a living wage," he says. "And increasingly, communities of working people can't afford to live where they work. They're holding down two jobs - we shouldn't be surprised that people are forced to eat fast food in their cars."
--Raj Patel, author of Stuffed & Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System

2 comments:

black dog barking said...

And increasingly, communities of working people can't afford to live where they work.

So, on top of working the long hours, one is blessed with a long commute and a substantial commitment to maintaining a reliable means of transportation.

I asked a local building contractor a few years back how many of his subcontractors could afford to buy the "affordable" housing he built. He was pretty sure less than one in three would qualify. He hasn't built many houses the past couple of years in a local economy (agriculture and government based) that hasn't done too badly.

James Killus said...

There's an (to me anyway) interesting connection that could be made by Randites (and like-minded libertarians) about the current circumstances, but, of course, they are generally lost in an imaginary landscape of someone else's devising.

The thing is this: part of the American "work ethic" encapsulates professionalism, the degree of commitment, and willingness to work under adverse conditions to "get the job done." This includes working two jobs, long hours, etc., things which Randites would deride if spoken of as "sacrifices" made for family, community, etc., but which are fine when it is considered as a commitment to "creative work," or personal ambition.

This dedication is now routinely exploited by those who make the rules, set the salaries, and order other people around. Randites are incapable of understanding that this is no less evil when it is done by "private" institutions as "public" institutions, despite the fact that, objectively, the same methods of enforcement are used.

One of the real insights that Rand had into the human condition was the way in which people's virtues are often exploited as weaknesses by those possessing no real talents other than manipulating other people. Yet here we have entire economic classes exploited by their virtues, and all we get in the way of social analysis is "that's the market in action," the most simple-minded form of Social Darwinism, in other words, a philosophy held by people who would starve to death on a farm, or fail to last a day on a factory floor.