I believe I've mentioned that I work at a grocery store and frequently have to deal with people’s unpleasantness while I’m checking them out. My absolute least favorite customer to deal with is the one who goes on a political rant.
As a side bar, why are the nut-jobs who go on political rants to unsuspecting check out workers always conservatives? I’m not saying there are no ranting liberal nut-jobs out there… there totally are and I don’t like them any better than I like conservative ones, even if I’m more likely to agree with the spirit of what they’re saying, though not the content or the tone. Yes, I lean liberal, and I’m not ashamed of it, but I feel it is important to admit my biases. Okay, disclaimer over.
Anyway, my point is that the liberal political ranters at least tend to do it in socially acceptable places… obviously biased “news” commentary shows, blogs, Facebook… etc. Conservatives use all of those mediums, but they also use the medium of ranting at an unsuspecting, unable to escape, unable to do anything but smile and treat them politely and hand them their change, service workers. This isn't limited to grocery stores, either. It happened when I worked at McDonald’s too. Seriously, does it make you feel good to rant at a totally captive audience who can’t say one thing back for fear of losing their job? More importantly, do you think you’re actually accomplishing anything? Like I suddenly am going to see the light and come over to your way of thinking because you gave me an unpleasant two minute lecture? Really?
I’m not saying liberals are never guilty of this, because that would be silly. I’m sure somebody somewhere could come up with at least one anecdote of a liberal person being so rude, and probably way more than one. All I’m saying is that in all the times I have been the victim of a drive by political rant, it has never once happened to be a liberal. That’s personal experience, not data. Please do not confuse the two or think that I am confusing the two.
Anyway, this most recent incident that upset me and sparked the writing of this post happened a couple days ago. I was checking out a perfectly nice lady, discussing the extremely cold weather and how obnoxious it was, when she made the comment that gas prices had jumped again. I groaned and commiserated with her, as I had not known yet that they had jumped and I also will feel the pain next time I have to fill up my car. Then she made the comment that there was no reason for it, as oil prices had actually gone down. All of this was a perfectly nice, friendly conversation in which we both complained about something that was making our lives more difficult, though, as they say, first world problems. And then she made it political, blaming it all on the government, and Barack Obama, and how “Oh yeah, he really wants to help the middle class when he raises gas prices for no reason whatsoever.” And I’m sitting there stunned by the sudden vitriol spewing out of this otherwise pleasant lady’s mouth (I really cannot, in this medium, do justice to how the expression on her face and the tone of her voice changed to be an ugly, hateful thing) and also wondering how on earth she could be so stupid.
Because really, how on earth can it possibly be Barack Obama’s fault that the gas prices rose? He has literally no control over the prices that gas companies set. He does not send them a memo saying, okay, time to raise the gas prices another fifty cents, because screw the people who need gas to get back and forth to their jobs. That is patently ridiculous. The reason the gas prices rose so dramatically in such a short time, even though oil prices are currently dropping, is one or both of two things. First of all, the oil that gets bought today is not the gas that gets bought today. There’s like a month or two gap. What were oil prices like a month or two ago? Were they higher (must be, if prices are going down)? Then there’s no reason to get upset unless gas prices don’t drop back down in a month or two. Of course they won’t because point number two, the reason the gas prices keep going up, is corporate greed. The gas prices went up because companies can get away with spiraling the prices up. Gas prices go up because we live in a culture of corporatism where companies make increasingly larger profits that go entirely to the CEO’s and the stockholders, while year after year worker pay stagnates and layoffs happen.
Now, you actually can blame the government for this. You can blame the government for deregulation and laws that encourage a culture of corporate greed, a culture where CEO to average worker pay is something like 400 to 1. You can blame the government for tax codes with so many loopholes and exemptions that they allow companies to not only pay zero taxes but to get billions of dollars in tax credits on top of their zero taxes. You can blame the Supreme Court for allowing corporations to put unlimited amounts of money towards campaigns, allowing them to in effect buy the elections. You can, and should, get mad at the government for lots of things, including high gas prices at the pumps. But not because of what they’re doing but because of what they’re not doing. In other words, don’t blame the liberals, blame the conservatives. It’s their policies, their commitment to the ideals of a self-regulating market and trickle-down economics in spite of practical realities showing that those ideals do not work, which are causing these problems. But please do blame the liberals as well, because at best they play lip service to fixing these problems and at worst they ignore them. They like their corporately financed campaigns too.
Okay, sorry, my rant against ranters turned into a rant of my own. I try not to let that happen too much. While I have a lot of opinions, this blog is supposed to be about a conversation where my opinions, and others opinions, get sharpened through respectful dialogue, not about me having my own little corner of the internet to soapbox and grandstand. Sometimes, however, I just have something I need to say, and this is one of those times.
But if you disagree with me, I still welcome thought-provoking dialogue.