The Fury of the Dirt People

Other than libertarians, people of every ideological strip start with the basics of modern civics. All of us have an obligation to our fellow citizens and our government has an obligation to all of us. Your duty as a citizen is not to the ruler, but to your fellow citizens. That means the men and women in government jobs have those same obligations. That’s the foundation stone of popular government. We create among ourselves the apparatus of the state so it can serve our collective interests.

Fundamental to making this work is the idea of fairness. No one gets everything they want and few are deprived of getting something they want. Similarly, no group is getting to game the laws to take advantage of others. The laws in a society under popular government are often aimed at addressing the issue of fairness. Rich guys pay more in taxes than poor guys because the bulk of the people think it is only fair. After all, the rich guy is getting more from the bargain.

That’s obviously a very simple way of putting it, but fairness is the canvas on which popular government is drawn. It is the sense of fairness that is at the heart of reform campaigns and the primary appeal of political parties. Democrats in America have been campaigning on fairness for as long as anyone reading this has been alive. Even Republicans tuck the fairness issue into their appeals for low taxes and open borders. In the West, at least, popular government is nothing but a debate over what is fair and equitable.

I suspect that part of what’s happening to the Republicans, and the Buckley Conservatives, is rooted in the fairness issue. The people fobbing themselves off as conservatives these days are mostly libertarians with some social conservative ideas bolted on as decoration. This is the result of Frank Meyer Fusionism, which was supposed to bring together the free market ideas of libertarians and the traditionalism of the old Right. Today it is just technocratic libertarianism with some hand waving about abortion and the gays.

As I’m fond of pointing out to libertarians, people are not moist robots. Their heads may say that the factory has to close because it is losing money, but they still feel terrible for the men getting pink slips. They may be swayed by free trade appeals, but they still feel wrong seeing jobs being shipped to China, while Americans end up on the welfare rolls. It’s the nagging sense of fairness that leads us to think that maybe we’re not living up to our obligations to our fellow citizens.

Consider this story from a couple of weeks ago.

Union leaders at an air conditioner factory in Indianapolis threatened with losing 1,400 jobs to Mexico said on Tuesday the plant’s owner expects to pay Mexican workers $3 an hour compared to an average of more than $20 an hour for the U.S. workers.

“We haven’t given up the fight yet,” said Chuck Jones, president of the United Steelworkers union local that represents workers at the Carrier Corp plant. “But Carrier has pretty well indicated that the wage differential is too great and there’s not much we can do.”

A spokeswoman for Carrier, a unit of United Technologies Corp (UTX.N), said the company pays a “competitive wage” based on local conditions and could not discuss pay levels.

Union and Carrier officials were locked in talks on Tuesday as a political storm raged around them.

The announcement last week from Carrier that it would shift 1,400 jobs from Indianapolis and 700 from another plant in Huntington, Indiana to Monterrey, Mexico starting in 2017 prompted Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump to say he would tax Carrier air conditioning units for moving to Mexico.

Normal Americans can wrap their heads around the fact that Carrier will save a lot of money by moving their plant to Mexico. They understand that this may be necessary to remain competitive. They also wonder why our government is doing all of these favors for Mexico, when the Mexicans do things like ship us narcotics, gangsters and illegal aliens. In other words, something feels wrong here. Whose interests are being served here? It is clearly not the Americans working at the Carrier plant.

Now, look at this story from Silicon Valley.

Human-resources software company Zenefits had to send an uncomfortable HR email to their own to staff recently following a few incidents within their San Francisco office.

The startup, which launched less than three years ago but was evaluated last May at $4.5 billion, was forced to ban staff from drinking in the office after some wild parties that involved employees having sex in the stairwell of the building, according to emails obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

The emails, sent around last summer by Zenefits Director of Real Estate and Workplace Services, Emily Agin, described the situation of employees having sex at work as ‘crude behavior’.

‘It has been brought to our attention by building management and Security that the stairwells are being used inappropriately….Cigarettes, plastic cups filled with beer, and several used condoms were found in the stairwell. Yes, you read that right,’ the email said.

‘Do not use the stairwells to smoke, drink, eat, or have sex.

‘Please respect building and company policy and use common sense…’

The alcohol ban was officially brought in last week by Zenefits’s new chief executive, David Sacks.

Sacks said it is important to cultivate a more mature work atmosphere in a staff memo that was sent around last Wednesday.

Zenefits is a company that exists because of the financialization of the US economy. Cheap credit means cash to create this firm and keep it afloat while it parties its way through a ton of cash. It’s also the sort of firm that helps business treat their employees like furniture. Americans see these stories and naturally wonder how these rich pricks are allowed to get away with this nonsense. No American can smoke and drink at work, much less get it on in the stairwell.

When the boys and girls of Conservative Inc, cloistered in their taxpayer financed monasteries around Washington, cry out “A furore Lutumnorum libera nos, Domine” they are not thinking about stories like these. They have been insulated from the consequences of the polices they are paid to promote. The Dirt People, however, look at the unfairness they see everyday on their televisions and on-line and wonder why their leaders have forsaken them.

32 thoughts on “The Fury of the Dirt People

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  2. We only have had trouble with cloud people since our form of limited central government was deconstructed over time. Take away the legal pretensions that have cropped up under the general welfare and the necessary and proper clauses, the supremacy clause trumping the 10th Amd. and the near total ransacking of the 9th Amd., the squelching of grand jury power and obscuring the trial jury power and SCOTUS’ use of precedent to stealthily amend the constitution to these above listed aims and things the cloud people want and do to us goes away.

  3. Starting to see the free trade parrots being let out of their cages to sing their trained songs of poo. Whoever says “it’s good for the consumer” should be immediately strung on a tree. The consumer does not exist as a seperately definable being. The consumer is a producer from 9-5, so to speak. What’s good for the consumer by free trade and unfettered immigration is fatal to that same person as a producer, ultimately killing the consumer.
    When the consumer gets a better deal through unfair trade, no matter the fancy-free trade dress it comes in, or low wage illegal, unskilled immigrants the day has dawned where the source of the consumer is cut off. Some deal.
    Why must this be written? Because pro-immigration and free trade zealots would have you believe the lie that you are a consumer, exclusively.

  4. Pingback: Cloud People And Ground People | The Arts Mechanical

  5. When you wrote “A furore Lutumnorum libera nos, Domine”, did you mean “A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine”? I cannot find the word “Lutumnorum”.

  6. Pingback: The revolt of the little people - Maggie's Farm

  7. A month or so ago, there were news reports that Zenefits had laid off 200+ and the CEO had resigned over regulatory issues. Guess you reap what you sow.

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    • Saw that one. Kinda surprised that Tom Cotton is in that group. He’s been pretty consistent with his votes. Guess he’s more interested in going along to get along.

    • There is a great analogy in which Richard Fernandez regarding the delusional desires of a political elite trying to survive it’s own illegitimacy in a piece he wrote:
      I particularly like how they reference and raise the harbinger of Schrodinger’s Cat.
      His premise of how the protected class aren’t getting what The Dirt People are thinking comes from this really interesting paper on the collapse of the Soviet Nomenklaturer.:

      “[T]he USSR’s vital signs gave no warning of failure. The Soviet Union in 1986 was as as big and populous as it had ever been. It had thousands of nuclear warheads. Its economy was bad it’s true but no worse than at many points in its past. There was no significant opposition to the Politburo.


      In his book Private Truth, Public Lies , social scientist Timur Kuran argued that people, under pressure to conform by culture leaders, often told public lies to get the pollsters and thought police off their backs, even as they nurtured largely undetected private resentments inside them. Over time, two divergent perceptions would emerge: the public lie would determine how the regime thought about itself while the private truth contained the real, but hidden data.

      These two contradictory perceptions can coexist for as long as they don’t meet, living in a kind of superposition much like Schrodinger’s Cat. But eventually some event occurs which makes the public aware of the private truth which is really what everybody is thinking. That observation collapses the political wave function and causes all hell to break loose.

      I think a lot of Dirt People kind of have an intuitive sense on that even if they could never put it in succinct terms.
      The political elites are whistling past their own graveyard.

  9. Well if you can’t drink, smoke and get laid at work, why bother going at all?

  10. If the Federal Government had used half the resources devoted to tracking and arresting the Bundys to protect the small business and shop keepers in Ferguson or Baltimore it would have done ten times as much good.
    I’m constantly surprised at the people who are included in the protected class. And who is not.

    • Yes, but they disrespected that bird sanctuary. It’s not something the folks in Portland will ever go to, but it’s important to make sure that no one else can use that land. 67% of Oregon is owned by the Federal Government. it is no wonder that the states don’t stand up to the Feds. They don’t control most of the land.

  11. Hi Z, long time reader, very infrequent commenter.

    One of the least discussed aspects of the jobs shipped overseas is the rise of bureaucratic and regulatory burdens, caused by people voting for more ‘fairness’. When the well intentioned laws and departments like the EPA started being used as law making/revenue generating bodies independent of Congress – with the ability to create new, conflicting codes with other departments and levy their own fines – coincides directly with the rise our outsourcing. It was no accident that the Clinton era (with the help of well paid GOPe leaders) saw the rise of both the internet age and the outsourcing of everything from tech support to manufacturing.

    The Dems wanted the power to use government for the greater (i.e. their client groups’) good, Wall Street and the Cloud People as you call them wanted to have unfettered access to cheaper labor, and the GOPe wanted to go back to their constituents with minor victories and balanced budgets. Everybody in government and power positions won, the blue collar workers started losing, and now that we have underprepared a generation for reality, we see the rise of people like Bernie supporters asking for more freebies, and the Trump supporters belatedly seeking revenge.

    This is a fire that has been burning slowly on the frontiers for thirty years, and as you say, it cannot end well. I still hold out some hope that a peaceful resolution is possible, but haven’t lived in the ghetto as little as 6 years ago and still doing work in the more industrial and decrepit corners of North America, that hope is fleeting.

    The people getting paid to not riot will start as soon as the cost of food and services exceeds the wages of welfare, and the people working their tales off to stay clear of welfare are well prepared to deal with any threats coming their way.

    I was once mildly surprised at the steps taken to prepare for insurrection by people who know better than to say what they really are thinking about subjects like immigration, diversity, feminism, Wall Street, etc. Now I consider those people prudent planners, because the anger on both sides is overwhelming the efforts of the one side (the GOPe) to quell it, and the other (the Progs) to contain it to their advantage.

  12. Rich guys pay more in taxes than poor guys because the bulk of the people think it is only fair.
    That’s AFTER also paying some/all of their workers health “insurance”, unemployment insurance, workplace security, environmental. industrial hygiene, tools/maintenance, and assorted “not-actually working/producing” time.
    Quite frankly, I’m often amused at what SOME folks actually claim is “Skilled labor” deserving higher wages, that apparently NOONE else wants, and based on “special” rules concerning ones actual value in the food chain.

  13. There are parallels between your Dirt People and my Dirt Eaters (Civil War). They were both deceived and coopted by their betters to act against their own interests. The diaries from Uncle Billy’s Boys(General Sherman)., not only give us a peek at history, they reveal a stunning level of awareness and of compassion. The poor kids from Midwestern farms had been shocked at the poverty and wretchedness of the Dirt Eaters and had compassion for them. When they could, they went out of their way to avoid rolling over them, despite intense provocation and being at war. They saved their righteous wrath for the Plantation Caste. Sorry, if I am off topic.

  14. Lets see, contrast in fairness?
    LeVoy Finnicum is executed in cold blood in a snow bank in Oregon by the FBI, because he and his friends where protesting his government, peacefully.
    Hillary Clinton is running for president after the FBI investigates Blackwater, Vince Foster, Fast & Furious, Benghazi, Columbian money laundering operations, and top secret treason and espionage over her private server, and she gets a total free pass on all these disasters.
    And by the way, the “wild life refuge” where LeVoy Finnicum was protesting, Bill and Hillary sold mineral and extraction rights to foreign interests.
    At some point it leaves basic consideration of what is equitable in the dust.
    So in all fairness, if this psychopath in a jump suit and a depends is installed as the next “POTUS”, does anyone really believe fairness in the form of equality of rule of law is going to miraculously happen?
    The term banana republic comes to my mind.

  15. “That means the men and women in government jobs have those same obligations.”

    In the Uk, there was, about 20 years ago, a subtle shift from the concept of the civil (or public) servant to “public official.” Where once one spoke of the Council, meaning a place where matters could be discussed and in the ways of the ancients where those public servants can be petitioned, we now have aggressive language from the “Authorities.”

    As someone who used to work in newspapers, i am fascinated by these slight change in words, where quietly what was a general good is now people being given control. I have noted too that headlines (in all media) often now talk of “fight” and “battle” where once it was “at odds over” or perhaps “in dispute.”

    Better people than me have pointed out how language shapes our world, but it is true we now have the media labelling things as aggressive confrontations and we have people in charge, rather than being here to assist. The net result is ‘the same obligations’ have changed: they do not have any obligations, and increasingly our obligation is to bow and scrape.

  16. German bureaucracy is stuff of legend. It is well known that if you can get a job working for the state, you’re set for life, including a nice pension when you retire. While some government jobs are necessary, many question just how many people we really need at the town hall, or vehicle registration. But our streets are clean, the road stops tidy, and our bridges aren’t falling down, so at least the system still seems to be working. For now.

    The major benefit of working for the government is they can’t off-shore your job, so you can turn off your brain and drone on for 40 years. Major German companies like VW and Siemens have been off-shoring their work, in fact the Audi TT is no longer built in Germany it’s built in Hungary. They pay the Hungarians less than Germans, but still charge as much for the car when it comes to German show rooms. Siemens builds washing machines, dryers and other kitchen appliances in China, and can still re-import them back to Germany at a profit. BMW and VW have factories in the US so they don’t import from Europe. At least these provide jobs for Americans.

    Fortunately the small and medium sized German companies are not corporate owned. I commended before that most German companies are family owned. We don’t have the corporate influence where one parent company swallows up dozens of little companies, so there’s a much stronger social attitude and very little external influence on our workers. Our threat isn’t being off shored as much as keeping up with technology and automation.

    • All X-series BMW’s are built in the US now, in the South Carolina facilities. Mercedes builds their C-Series in Alabama. Our Southerners will work for less than Hungarians. 😉

      I think most Americans get that some of these things are generally good, but a lot of it is just state sanctioned piracy. The great crime perpetrated by the Republicans is in convincing sensible people that the wants of global corporations are the same as those of the mom & pop small business. Every flower shop owner now says they are an entrepreneur instead of a shopkeeper. The Germans have always been deeply suspicious of large scale capital enterprises. Localism is something Americans would have been wise to import from Germany. Instead we imported the faculty lounge from the Frankfurt School.

      • @ theZman – There’s a fundamental difference between US and German private (non-share holder) companies. In the US, it’s all about short term profit where employees are routinely sacrificed to ensure a good quarterly report. For German companies the goal is not profit as much as long term sustainability of the workforce. Therefore employers generally accept taking a hit in profits in order to keep their employees long term.

        • K Street deemphasized ” long term value investing”; it’s about scurrying around the planet getting a 1/10th of a percent here, a ¼ of a percent there.
          Small to medium size businesses who could still be categorized as entrepreneurial face as much volatility and uncertainty as the typical wage earner. If money weren’t so cheap, it would be a wonder that anyone would make a capital investment. This reality doesn’t ever seem to factor in to the mindset of the elites, their minions, and their ideological fellow travelers of whatever persuasion. Per the Deloitte Shift Index: Shorter company life span.
          Greater management turnover.
          Falling return on assets.
          Declining Innovation.
          Declining trust in brands.
          Less job security.

        • @Karl,

          It was not always this way in the US. Somewhere in the 80’s everyone got the idea in their head they should be a super predator in the business world. It’s been a disaster for small and mid-sized business. The pendulum is starting to swing back. I know lots of firms that will only do business with small firms like themselves. I know companies that advertise on their websites that they have a bias for local vendors.

          For most of American history, businessmen took it as a point of pride to have a commitment to their communities. That custom collapsed here in the 80’s, but it seems to be making a return, at least in some places.

  17. It’s almost like the old nobility. Once you’re in, you can’t get fired except through the maneuvering and subterfuge of your enemies.

    If you had told me 20 years ago that we’d have an unaccountable elite in this country, in thrall to transnational paymasters, I’d have laughed in your face.

    • They came in during the Reagan presidency in the 80s, but by stealth. It may have been Buckley’s doing, though.

    • In fairness to government people, it is fair to them. That is the whole point. To them it is fairness, it counts because you are a protected person. They are the protected class. Disobedience of the Dirt People or responsibility to them is unimaginable, how could they be accountable to Dirt People if the are the protected to begin with.
      The only rules are the rules don’t apply to them. The rules of rules is to change the rules to protect the protected when the rules require changing to keep them the protected. That way all the protected protect each other.
      The Dirt People are subjects to be ruled by whatever rules are convenient and necessary to keep them the Dirt People and ruled. In this way the protected remain protected also. As it functions the Dirt People are left with no avenues of redress but personal defiance and resistance, civil disobedience, and violent rebellion.
      The protected have within their class a Praetorian guard in the form of armed badged leg breakers, who receive protected status and a multitude of protected benefits if they use force and coercion in the form of threat of violence and application of lethal force to enforce the rules the protected create out of whole cloth to protect themselves and their special interests, and protect their protected class from the Dirt People so they too remain protected.
      The protected also have particularly special, and very flexible rules for The Dirt People in the form of transfer of Dirt People wealth to the protected.
      It is important to protect The Dirt People from being anything but Dirt People, the protected need the Dirt People because the Dirt People are producers of things the protected require to live the protected life, but the Dirt People do not need the protected and what they produce to be the protected in the first place.
      So it is very important the Dirt People think the protected make the rules, and that the Dirt People have to obey those rules that only protect the protected.
      Where the protected go wrong, where it all begins to fall apart, is when the Dirt People begin to figure out there are no rules, there is only the equality of primal freedoms of men and organic liberty and self determination.
      The motive power in Dirt People who realize these truths of themselves begins at some point to take on a cascade of preference and choice anathema to the existence of the protected. It becomes existential threat to the protected. It is more than fury, it is cold calculated withdrawal of consent. The one thing absolutely essential to the protected. Simply because consent, can only be given, it can not be taken.

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