A young man set on a single goal of reaching his destination is minding his own business walking down the street. Along the path a larger man demanding his money stops him. Perplexed and confused, the demand comes again. Now frightened he reaches into his pocket, hoping the incident will be over quickly. In his fear he moves too slowly. The larger man backhands him knocking him to the ground. The ordeal only escalates as another person joins in and threatens to kill him.
His mind races and yet the hands move much quicker. The wallet escapes the pants pocket and a few bills protrude out. While the victim tries to hand it over the two muggers are arguing with each other on who will steal it. The first mugger finally notices the wallet, snatches it and takes off. The second mugger runs after him. As luck would have it another mugger appears and steals the young man’s backpack with his computer and schoolbooks.
Angry and shaken, the young man slowly gets up off the ground. Another young person approaches to offer him a hand. The kind person offers him a drink, food, a cell phone to report the crime and to walk him to his destination. While the kindness from the helper means little in the grand scheme of that particular person’s life it means nearly everything in that moment for the victim.
The story is not too far away from one of my own experiences. The sad thing is that the kindness of another person is the farthest things from truth for the rest of us.
We are being mugged and beaten everyday by the people who purport to ensure our safety and who pretend to help us along our path towards the American Dream. But that path is merely an illusion for us to be out on it and allow these people to rob us while we chase the fantasy of a white picket fence.
The middle class finds itself in that predicament right now. Beaten senseless, robbed blind, left to die – on the side of the road – awaiting a neighbor to show us mercy.
Over the last thirty years wages for the middle class and working poor have remained stagnant. Prices of everyday commodities have risen. College tuition has more than tripled. Quality jobs in manufacturing and growing economic sectors have been shipped overseas for want of cheaper labor. The middle class is relying more and more on a service economy for its income while being told the American Dream is around the corner.
It is the lie to get the middle class alone on the road. While the middle class walks on the road to Jericho – life’s highway – they turn a corner with hopes of capturing a hint of this so-called Dream. Unbeknownst, a gang of robbers waits. Hit from behind the middle class falls to the ground. A kick to the stomach, sticks smashing into the legs, and the sudden impact of fists striking the face. In a daze; confused at the event unfolding, the middle class has no idea they have just been conned. Barely conscious, the robbers pilfer through the clothes to find anything of value. A lifetime of savings, a home taken away after a predatory loan, laid off after years of dedicated work and any sense of dignity is long gone.
Struggling to pick itself by its own bootstraps, the middle class slowly claws its way out of the ditch and into sight on the roadside. There is neither a hospital nearby nor a neighbor offering assistance. In the distance, a possible savior or at the very least a movement promising to change the culture that plagues the road to Jericho. A promise of recovery and a promise of holding account those who are responsible.
Hope and Change. That’s what was promised. At the first opportunity to deliver it, Obama did not fulfill the Good Samaritan role. As his administration approached an injured middle class there were, and still are, two choices: a) help the middle class return to health or b) walk right on by.
Walking by is the easy route. At worst a little guilt nags a little further down the road, but life continues. Actually stopping to do something is a whole other matter. The journey comes to a dead stop and requires an assessment of the situation.
Stopping on the roadside requires a deep commitment. It compels one to see the recovery of the middle class through to the end. Human nature dictates that once we take a vested interest and claimed responsibility we strive to ensure a good outcome.
But that was not done. Responsibility has been delegated and, for the most part, pushed into the future.
Progressive criticism of the Obama administration is usually based on his role as an authoritarian – they believe he concedes too quickly, tries to find the middle ground before the discussion has even begun, and that he bows when he should stand tall. When it came to fixing up the middle class, he did not deviate from this narrative.
The robbers could be seen in the distance. Wall Street crashed the economy with high risk investments and instead of being investigated for wrong-doing, they were bailed out by the very people charged with dealing out justice.
The hospital and law enforcement are clearly within reach. Policy proposals to secure the middle class were shelved or never considered. The SEC and FBI were not used to look into fraud or abuse in banking practices.
A true interest in the recovery of the wounded means taking two actions: getting them to the hospital and utilizing law enforcement. A single individual cannot heal the wounds and track down the perpetrators. It takes reliance upon specialists to ensure a proper recovery.
But we know what happened. Obama took the middle ground to not upset the status quo. A few bandages here and there.
A little change to help the middle class along their way. – A small tax rebate in an inadequate stimulus package.
While it may have helped the middle class get back up on their feet it offered no guarantee the robbers would not return nor a safe arrival at the hospital. – Wall Street is free to continue as though nothing happened. The stock market bounces back to help the upper class continue their wealth grab.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan he is merely a passerby and does not ask to be placed in a situation of choosing to help or not. Nonetheless, the Samaritan helps. On the other hand Mr. Obama asked us to believe in him, to vote for him, to trust him as our President. Change would come but instead of living up to it he has skirted the toughest fights of changing D.C. and restoring government for the people and by the people.
The political debate in D.C. has shifted towards deficit reduction and spending cuts. The same victims of the banks and corporations are now being asked to sacrifice more after taking a beating. How much more is there to sacrifice?
Where is the middle class to go from here? The road only becomes more dangerous when one has to walk down it with a broken arm or half blind or with little ability to run away. It means the next beating and mugging the middle class takes could be its last.
That is unless a true Good Samaritan steps up; especially one that asked to be in that position.
© Aaron Krager 2008-2013 | Have any questions? Send me an email.