Wednesday, March 11, 2009

'I work hard for my money'

I was watching the Colbert report last night when I was struck by something Chris Matthews said in a clip that Colbert showed.

Now I'll admit I don't know the whole context because I work all day and even when I am at the gym at lunch to work out, I am not listening to CNN, MSNBC, or whatever other news channels. I might be looking at it, but I'm listening to NIN. And for all I know, Hardball is on after I get home, but I don't think I've ever seen Matthews anywhere but the Comedy Channel.

However, what he said was extant, and that is that he though Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged was 'kind of romantic'. Now first, I have to admit to having enormous respect for anyone who has actually read the novel front to back, which seems to be at once a complex, brutal argument for a perverse philosophy and an attempt to strangle the entire english language into submission. In fact, the novel seems to have been conceived to stand as a barrier to the further adoption of english literature, a punishment for anyone gullible enough to pick it up and wade in.

Is that an exaggeration ? Possibly, although less of one than saying the novel or Rand's philosophy is romantic, given that romance is the gift of love and Rand's is the gift of selfishness as the greatest good and highest purity.

Serving as an unpaid intern at the Rand Corporation is or is oxymoronic ? Discuss....

Sorry, where was I ?

After Matthews, the next clip was another news channel talking-head railing against limiting the tax deductions for upper-income types. This woman, a TV presenter, was questioning why 'her hard work' should go to support people who weren't working as hard.


Let me repeat that.


Hey, I work hard every day at work. Sometimes I stay late, sometimes I bring work home or answer emails late at night, and yeah, I had to play field hockey and drink beer study pretty hard to get through five years at university. And I'm sure being a presenter on TV for an hour or two five days a week involves a lot of time- in make-up, collaborating with the people who write your copy, reading the news/internet/watching other talking heads to help crystalize your talking points. You probably have to be, especially and discriminatorily if you are a woman, better looking than the rest of us sorry lot. And I'm sure you need at least a journalism BA or similar degree.

But working harder than other people ?

You know who works hard ? The hotel maid that works 10 hours a day 5-6 days a week, on her (or his) feet all day every day, scrubbing munge off toilets. The people that flip burgers at McDonalds, elbow deep in grease and grimy for minimum wake.

Hard work is long hours at low pay doing jobs that garner inadequate respect. I'm not saying that you can't have a desk job that is hard, terribly hard. Incredible pressure? Sure. Intense responsibility ? Of course. But to say that you work harder because you what- make more money ?


We have to, as a society, move past this idea. The people who are saying 'Why should I ?' need to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they really believe that they are somehow better than other people just because of their pay grade, and then ask themselves if it's acceptable that people live without homes, clothes, and food to increase their own comfort.

I'm no socialist. But I think when you start seeing yourself as better than other people because of how much money you make, when you assign yourself moral superiority because you pay bigger bills than the next guy, well, you need to re-evaluate yourself.

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