Thursday, October 3, 2019—At Starbucks yesterday, I sat next to a 60ish age white blowhard, a “Trumplikin” who exuded anger through all his pores. He started by telling me how the Dems had fixated on yet another bogus issue with which to crucify Trump. In an hour-plus rant, he regurgitated TV issues, but with the Trump camp’s slant. He raged over the wall, Kavanaugh, China’s “theft” of intellectual property, the Confederate statues, Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, and probably other things that I’ve forgotten. Oh. Capital punishment: kill them fast and make it hurt a little.
He is in manufacturing, has been to China twelve times. His company makes hydrophilic sponges, I think he said, such as for applying make-up. I guess the Chinese government restrains waste of chemicals, for instance, by making companies account for everything they use and taxing heavily their excesses. It was hard to get a clear picture of what he meant, but it sounded like that system works differently (and perhaps better) than the EPA. He thinks it’s fine that Chinese workers live in dormitories, work 18 hours/day, six days a week for $1/hour. It saves so much money that it’s worth it to ship the product across the world for sale. He could not understand that US employers in the US might want to hire illegals here, since that way they can also pay low wages without responsibility. The only difference is that the Chinese government allows these manufacturers to do it legally.
No one but me sees a middle ground. I wouldn’t want to be an employer in the US or China, because both exploit their citizens, but in different ways. I’m surprised at all the costs government imposes—both regulatory and actual—on employers here. The GM strike, which involves 45,000 workers, is for faster wage increases for new hires, better health care benefits, and to keep some plants open that are slated for closure. This in the face of declining sales worldwide.
Never mind that I think the industry itself is too big. “That’s capitalism,” the saying goes. In the current definition of “capitalism” the do-nothings profit from others’ toil, so I don’t blame the toilers for resenting it.
Mr. Trumplikin can rant at Starbucks, but I rant in my journal. The system itself creates people like him, so there is no reasoning with him about justice and fair play. When he claimed he has nothing against immigrants, just go through the proper channels, and I suggested even US citizens are living under bridges and in the streets, so there’s no intrinsic advantage to being a citizen, his response was something to the effect of “create jobs.” This from a man whose company moved to China to exploit labor, because they can’t do it here and churn stock on Wall Street at the same time. Oh . . . and we don’t approve of athletes who beat their wives and other women. Nor do we approve of actresses who bribe college officials to admit their children on athletic scholarships.
I contributed nothing to this monologue, except an occasional “Er . . .” or “But . . .” and allowed Mr. Trumplikin to exorcise his demons, as I monitored my internal blood pressure gauge and tried to deflect the negativity. He doesn’t like the federal government but didn’t go into specifics. He agreed with me that (other) Americans are too intolerant. He thinks video games and social media are responsible for mass shootings. He conceded the media focus encourages would-be shooters with the fantasy of instant fame. He conceded that the controversy over Trump is stimulating conversation about politics like never before, even though he thinks Trump should desist from overuse of Twitter. But Trump says what he thinks, by golly. You know where he stands.
I left wondering how to reason with people like that. He has no insight into how heavily he is influenced by the mind control exerted through television, yet he also ranted about “fake news.”
Mr. Trumplikin’s intolerance stands at the opposite pole from my brother-in-law’s intolerance, yet they together personify the “polarization” the media exacerbates by emphasizing and lamenting it. Last night, S. said he watched three hours or so of the House of Representative’s “discussion” about impeachment. S. watches Trump’s long speeches (two hours) and I should too. That way, I can pick the best candidate in elections. I said I prefer a two-minute summary, that my opinion doesn’t matter to them. They are going to do what they are going to do. My perpetual “None of the above” is never on the ballot, so it translates into my not wasting time at the voting booth. S. gives the standard response that if I don’t vote, I have no right to complain. I said I no longer complain, and I don’t. Complaining does no more good than voting.
Best to do “Process Commentary,” as my blog claims and as I was trained to do as a group therapist. The process behind the intolerance intrigues me. I relate intolerance to insecurity, the self-doubt that comes with ambivalence over beliefs.
Both Mr. Trumplikin and my brother-in-law believe in government over the people, just as many people believe in organized religion. They need that structure to feel safe, the reassurance that someone or something more powerful than the individual cares and is acting in their best interests. They presume the focus is on the “higher good,” but they are willing to overlook the fact that a different set of rules apply to the “out group,” as Joseph Campbell might claim. Exploiting Chinese workers is okay, but it’s not okay to exploit illegals in the US. They should go back to Guatemala to be exploited. It’s harder to exploit US citizens, so we leave them under bridges and take our jobs to China.
Mr. Trumplikin insisted everything comes down to money. It’s so trite, yet if everyone believes it, and the system itself is predicated on commerce, money becomes its heart and soul. This leads to my single biggest contention with the system’s claim to legitimacy.