Category Archives: Economics

Journey through the Heart of Darkness: Post 5

As the weeks passed, the numbness of habit began to overtake me…sunrise over the dark city, the hum of the my tires down the highway, the blanket of filthy air exhaled by the smokestacks…the potholes jostling me into occasional alertness…I began, once again, my drivetime audiobook adventures, which even further removed me from the apocalyptic surroundings I daily inhabited.

Gary, IN is the perfect example of the whiteman’s wasteland, a used up, drugged up prostitute whose destiny is manifest. The place is 99.9% malignant. And I say that in the most matter-of-fact manner possible, the way a doctor presents the final prognosis to a dying man.

The inner city charter school is like a giant leach, siphoning off a portion of the bad, infected blood so that the healthy parts of its host will stand a fighting chance. The problem is that there is just so damn much bad blood, and so little healthy parts remaining. And there are multiple infections being fought at once…rap culture, gang culture, poverty, ignorance, futility, hopelessness, little food, no food, no healthy food. Fruits and vegetables, our best foods and our best metaphors, are exotic luxuries in such a wasted city, where approximately 4 promising students per class might make it out. This means that only about 20/130 students will be able to shake themselves free of the prostitute’s clutches and benefit from the leach therapy. These 4 promising students would be considered average at a middle class white school. It was for these few students, these lights in the darkness, that I worked daily. Slowly, I and they began to ripen on the vine, even in these formidable circumstances.

Since the charter school where I worked gave 50% credit for doing absolutely nothing (so they could spin the numbers, thus keeping up enrollment and federal tax dollars), I set up a system where I gave 150% to students who wanted to go over and above. The administration did not like this approach because it messed with their delicate web of numeric lies. The administration did not like many, many of my observations and practices. Ultimately we both will decide to “move in different directions”. The school is receiving a glut of applications from teachers left high and dry by their own charter school, a spider which had failed in its attempt to spin the proper numerical lies for the state. Ultimately, the charter school where I have spent 9 months will see the same fate, and the cycle will repeat itself. The charter school needs people who need it, in terms of both students and teachers. The fact that this position was optional to me allowed me to implement and voice critical thinking skills, which posed a very real threat to the current establishment there.

For 9 months I stared at the open wounds left by the receding flood of capitalism. For 9 months, I was in the belly of the beast. This wasteland is the logical conclusion of economic materialism, which is the logical conclusion of philosophical materialism, which is the logical conclusion of one path taken in this garden of forking paths…separation from our ultimate source. Thus say the gospel of technological determinism.

I have not yet said much about those lights in the darkness, my students. I have only been setting the stage. My next several posts will be dedicated to them, those healthy individuals who may be able to free themselves of the whore’s clutches, who may be able to reach heaven because they know what it is like to live in hell.


Blaming the Victim: 8 Million Skeletons Currently in the Closet, the Rest Buried.

All over America we have heard similar stories, and if we live anywhere within thirty miles of these areas, we may have seen the wreckage, burned out homes, and boarded up storefronts. Fort Wayne, Gary, Indianapolis and Chicago are the cities of the Midwest that come to my mind. I have heard stories about Detroit as well. The story repeats itself over and over – the local industries begin to close. Those who can afford to get out get out. Those who cannot afford to, have roots to the place, or simply don’t know any better stay put. Drugs and alcohol start to become huge problems for the community. Gangs, and all the violence associated with them, begin to spring up. When the drugs and violence get out of hand, we blame these victims who have been left in the economic dust and chosen the only economically viable option: drug sales. From a purely economic standpoint, this process is thoroughly predictable. The invisible hand of the market casts its shadow across the land.

This is a very old American fable by now. In fact, this scenario underlies the very concept of America. Kill, buy, or lie the people off their land with the promise of material progress. Get the people to forgo their sustainable family, community and spiritual practices and make them dependent on the new industries. When those industries fail, these people no longer have any stable family traditions or strong communities to fall back on. They falter and the only thing that many of them have is either blind faith, drugs, or their acquired habits of consumption. It began in our relationship with the Native Americans, was forefront in the slave trade, and continues in lower-middle class America today. Sure some people get out on sports scholarships, some on academics, some on luck, but the ones that remain behind become our victims, our scapegoats, our 8 million skeletons in the closet.

We love to hear the upbeat stories of those who make it out, who pull themselves up by their bootstraps – and there are definitely those people –  and they are definitely inspiring. I do not want to make light of their overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. But this focus on the exceptions to the rule does not address the more systemic issues: the fact that corporations have more “inalienable” rights and ultimately less liability than individuals, blatant negligence of sustainable practices on the part of government and industry in the generation of American capital, and the moral cowardice of the nation when it comes to regulating such industries as drug trade and prostitution. The sole reason the later two industries are so profitable (and so damaging) is precisely because they are unregulated.

In essence we create criminals through our economic and legislative failures, blame them for our sins as a nation, and then lock them away. Perhaps one of the most sad sights I have seen was in a little town called Whiteclay, Nebraska, where liquor stores sit perched on the edge of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to help slake the thirst of these descendents of our original victims, who still after all these years sit dazed, drunk, and drugged from what early Americans did to the ways of their ancestors. There are no jobs, and their once vast culture continues to gasp for air. The almighty unseen hand of the market has come and gone and left them to wander in the wilderness, a third world country within our own borders. More and more of these third world countries keep cropping up, and will continue to do so until our trance is broken. Christians who want to talk about a blood sacrifice for sin, look no further than these American Reservations, Ghettos and Prisons. There is our fucking Jesus…And I am not so sure he or she would be willing to save us even if they could…