HERE'S HOW THE RICH TREAT US LIKE DIRT
(just some of the many ways!)
The oppression illustrated by the examples below creates the chronic stress that causes sickness and shorter life as discussed here and here and here and here (it is chronic stress, as caused by one's job or poverty, that impairs immune response) and here and here. This oppression also causes additional serious illness and shorter life as discussed in detail here.
1. Paying low wages with minimal, if any, benefits and threatening to move jobs overseas if workers don't agree to even lower wages and reduced benefits.
2. Subjecting retail workers to "on call shifts" --"periods for which an employee must keep an open schedule but might not end up working. Instead of simply reporting for work, the employee has to check in with a supervisor a few hours in advance. If she gets called in, she may have to scramble for a babysitter. If she doesn’t get called in, she doesn’t get paid, and it’s too late to get a shift on a second job. 'People will be scheduled for eight on-call shifts in a pay period and only get called in for one shift,' says attorney Rachel Deutsch of the Center for Popular Democracy, a labor advocacy group." [Boston Globe, April 19, 2015]
3. Making people pay through the nose for health insurance, which may not even cover crucial health care needs when they are very sick or very old.
4. Telling our children in public schools that unless they score high on some absurd "high stakes" standardized test (that is designed so that children from poorer families get lower scores) they don't deserve to have a decent-paying job or perhaps any job at all. Read here about one big reason poor children get lower scores; it's because correct answers to test questions are marked wrong if they do not use virtually the same wording in the textbook that is linked to the test, and the poorest schools don't provide many (or sometimes any) of their students with these textbooks! These tests are a form of child abuse. Working class children in public elementary and high schools are required to take these tests, which are called "high stakes" tests because the child typically cannot be promoted or graduate from high school without passing the test. State governments tell parents that the tests are like the written test to get a driver's license in that if everybody has learned the material satisfactorily then everybody will pass. But in truth the authorities can and often do keep making the tests harder to pass in order to ensure that a large number of poor children will get a "fail" score no matter how well they have learned the material. Thus in Florida the Orlando Sentinel, in an article headlined, "Lawmakers push tougher scoring for high-stakes tests," reports:
"Florida’s key standardized tests, which already trip up more than 40 percent of those who take them, should be even tougher for students to pass in coming years, some House lawmakers say. Reviving a debate from last year, they want to require students to show 'proficiency' in order to pass Florida’s language arts and math exams, a move that could have far-reaching implications. The percentage of 10th graders who, on their first try, would pass the test needed to earn a diploma, for example, could fall from 51 percent to 36 percent, state data shows."
5. Having the police treat the poorest people like dirt. The police forces in the United States are essentially an occupation force acting to cow ordinary people into submission to the dictatorship of the rich. This may seem like an unjustifiably strong statement to individuals who have not experienced the police as a hostile force, as is the case for many upper middle class people. But for working class Americans, especially black and Hispanic and Native American working class Americans, this statement about the police is uncontroversial.
A retired Philadelphia police captain, Ray Lewis, described the police this way:
“I want to try and get a message to mainstream America that this system is corrupt, that police really are oppressing not only the black community, but also the whites,” he said. “It’s an oppressive organization now controlled by the one percent of corporate America. Corporate America is using police forces as their mercenaries.”
The New York Times, in order, no doubt, to give that newspaper some credibility, stated in an editorial Nov. 26, 2014, that:
"News accounts have strongly suggested, for example, that the police in St. Louis County’s many municipalities systematically target poor and minority citizens for street and traffic stops — partly to generate fines — which has the effect of both bankrupting and criminalizing whole communities. In this context, the police are justifiably seen as an alien, occupying force that is synonymous with state-sponsored abuse."
Read a whole lot more about this here.
6. Incarcerating people for things like smoking marijuana. More than two million people are behind bars in the U.S., and about half of federal prisoners were convicted of drug related (marijuana more than any other drug) but not violent crimes, and are subjected in many cases to utter brutality such as long solitary confinement.
7. Making decent paying jobs, or any jobs at all, artificially scarce (see how so here) so people who are more than willing to work cannot find work that enables them to support themselves and a family, thus forcing them to rely on welfare or unemployment compensation and suffer being wrongly looked down upon and accused of being a free-loader or worse.
8. Using a combination of lies (like "Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction" and "Saddam was behind 9-11") and the poverty draft ("If you want a job your only hope is to enlist") and the offer of citizenship to non-citizens if they first serve in the military, thereby manipulating young men and women to join the military where they are ordered to kill innocent people abroad and risk being killed themselves, resulting for many in post traumatic stress disorder, deep remorse and suicide.
9. Telling people who smoke (who are disproportionately working class) who live in publicly subsidized housing that they cannot smoke in their own home, and (in some towns) having the government give a grant (a bribe, really) to landlords who order their tenants to quit smoking in their home or be evicted. Working class smokers are being increasingly treated like dirt. Whatever the health argument is for banning smoking in some places (and by the way, there is no persuasive evidence that exposure to second hand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer, despite the fact that many people just assume it does), the fact is that wealthy people can stay in expensive hotels that have rooms where smoking is permitted, and they can smoke in their own expensive houses, but working class people are increasingly being denied the option of smoking at home and in this way they are being treated like dirt. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) treats smokers like dirt by allowing insurance plans to levy a surcharge of up to 50% on tobacco users' premiums, while not allowing such a surcharge on other "high risk" behaviors or conditions. (I was alerted to these facts by the Cambridge Citizens for Smokers’ Rights organization.) Click here for some more facts about smoking and lung cancer, etc.
10. Having hospitals treat working class people with far less respect and dignity than upper class people, as described in this Boston Globe article.
11. Depriving people of good and affordable housing located near where they work. Making people live in tents instead of decent homes, by depriving them of jobs that pay enough to own or rent a decent home. See what's happening to homeless people in this video and this video and this video and this video. Here's a Boston Globe article that shows why even people with jobs cannot afford to rent an apartment.
12. Forcing ordinary people in a neighborhood to yield to the demands of Big Money real estate/property developers. These developers dramatically change neighborhoods for the worse to make a profit at the expense of ordinary people who are adversely affected by the new development. Typically, the city government (beholden to Big Money and not ordinary residents of the city) holds hearings to let residents blow off steam, and sometimes the developer will make trivial changes in the design of their project, but in the end the Big Money developers get what they want and ordinary people don't. Read examples of this here and here and here.
13. Gaslighting us with Big Money-controlled mass media. Instead of doing unbiased solid investigative journalism, these mass media tell us we're crazy--we're a nutty "conspiracy theorist"--if we have perfectly reasonable reasons (as a very large percentage of Americans do) for being skeptical of the official stories our rulers tell us about major events such as the JFK assassination and 9/11.
14. Forcing college students into debt slavery. College graduates today are in virtual debt slavery; they owe $1.5 Trillion (trillion, not billion!) in student loan debts. These debts are onerous. They are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy court (the government will garnish wages and intercept tax refunds.) They are unjust because a college education, like elementary and secondary education, should be paid for by society, not just the individuals in school.
These debts, which are impossible to pay back with only a modest income, force college graduates to work--or attempt to work--where they otherwise wouldn't choose to work, at the higher paying jobs devoted to making big profits for the rich, rather than lower paying jobs (often at non-profit enterprises) devoted to more noble goals. Those who choose, or more typically end up stuck in, the lower-paying jobs must put off marriage and having children, and must forget about ever being able to buy a house. Read about this here and here and here and here.
15. Poisoning poor people with toxic waste. Corporations (and government agencies) care more about saving a buck and lining their greedy pockets than they care about the health and lives of poor people. They view poor working class neighborhoods as a perfectly fine place to dump toxic waste and inflict related kinds of environmental hazards on people.
Read "How corporations dump their toxic sludge in areas filled with poor people: corporations still seek out the areas with the poorest people to dump their toxic waste" here.
Read "If you're a minority and poor you're more likely to live near a toxic waste site" here.
Read "Trump's EPA Concludes Environmental Racism Is Real: A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency finds that people of color are much more likely to live near polluters and breathe polluted air—even as the agency seeks to roll back regulations on pollution" here.
Read here how "the predominantly Black residents of Bayview-Hunters Point [a neighborhood of San Francisco, CA] had sensed the historically industrial area was different, as they faced poor health outcomes that can’t simply be explained away. Breast cancer rates there are twice the San Francisco average, and the life expectancy averages fully 14 years less than that of San Franciscans who live on Russian Hill." The probable cause? "[T]heir homes are on hazardous waste at a former shipyard that handled Navy ships exposed to radiation from nuclear bomb tests. "As far back as World War II, when the Navy used the drydock to clean ships exposed to atomic tests in the Pacific Ocean, Hunters Point became contaminated with radioactive cesium-137 and other hazardous materials: asbestos, glow-in-the-dark paint, lead, and pesticides." Who ended up living on this hazardous waste? Predominantly black people. Read more about this atrocity here.
Read "How tap water became toxic in Flint, Michigan" here.
Read "The Love Canal Tragedy: Quite simply, Love Canal is one of the most appalling environmental tragedies in American history. But that's not the most disturbing fact. What is worse is that it cannot be regarded as an isolated event. It could happen again--anywhere in this country--unless we move expeditiously to prevent it" here.
People who live in poor working class neighborhoods know all about this from personal experience. People who live in places like Beverly Hills don't, and it's not hard to understand why not.
16. Causing poor people to die 30 years earlier than wealthy people, as discussed in some detail in a Guardian article titled, "'It's totally unfair': Chicago, where the rich live 30 years longer than the poor."
17. Treating working class residents of nursing homes all too frequently like dirt. Here is a email sent to me by a friend in a nursing home who is suffering from ALS and who is being treated terribly there because--as he tells me--because he is poor and can't afford an expensive nursing home:
---------- Original Message ----------
From: Rafael *** <***firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: John Spritzler <email@example.com>
Date: January 7, 2020 at 3:10 PM
Subject: “At the end of the day, this is after all a business.”
Said by the administrator of this facility at a staff meeting of nurses there to discuss with him the drastic problems they’re having with understaffing and reported to me by one of the nurses attending, whose only comment was that he was appalled by the remark.
A nurse here reported to me that the administrator of this facility said this at a meeting where the entire staff was present, and where the staff was bringing up the issue of gross understaffing:
18. Treating working class people like idiots and ignoramuses. Here's one typical example.
The owner of the Boston Globe, John Henry (net worth $1.1 billion) treated the people who deliver the Boston Globe newspaper like dirt, both physically and mentally. The Boston Globe newspaper recently switched to a new company to deliver its papers and the result was a catastrophe of Biblical proportions, forcing the owner of the Globe to publish an abject apology, (note that if you are a non-subscriber you can view three online Boston Globe articles per month for free) and forcing the paper to hire 100 people just to handle (barely) all of the phone calls of outraged subscribers who were not getting their paper delivered at all, never mind on time, and forcing the owner to ask Globe reporters and columnists to help deliver the paper (i.e., using their car to drive to unfamiliar neighborhoods throughout Massachusetts with stacks of papers to throw out the window.) It was weeks-long disaster. Thousands of subscribers were cancelling every day. What is the significance of this?
First, if you read this article you will see how the people who deliver the Globe are treated like dirt. It is really disgusting.
Second, if you read this article you will see that not only are the working class people who actually deliver the newspaper treated like dirt in the sense of being made to suffer, but they are also treated like dirt in the sense of being completely ignored regarding their knowledge of what the main problem was that caused the delivery catastrophe, even though these workers--and ONLY these workers--knew EXACTLY what the problem was--that the delivery routes they were given (by the new delivery company the Globe hired) were absurdly inefficient and stupid.
This entire debacle illustrates a fundamental fact about any society based on class inequality. The upper class must treat the lower class like dirt and in doing so it dares not respectfully ask working class people to participate as equals in figuring out how to get things done sensibly, and for that reason often does NOT get things done sensibly. One of the main reasons for abolishing class inequality is to abolish the treatment of ordinary people like dirt, which--and this is perhaps the worst thing about treating people like dirt--entails treating them like idiots and ignoramuses.
The main reason, therefore, for abolishing the class inequality of our society, for removing the rich from power to have no rich and no poor, is so that people will no longer be treated like dirt.