I was thinking, as I got up this morning, about that YouTube clip I posted to Facebook yesterday, a two-minute excerpt from a meeting Bernie Sanders was having in Iowa, where he invited members of the audience to speak from their personal knowledge of what it is like to live on $10,000 or $12,000 a year.
This is not a political posting. You know I love what Sanders stands for and what he is attempting to spark among the people. That’s not what this is about.
A young woman came up to the microphone and spoke of her own on-going experience, and could hardly speak for crying about the shame of always being in debt while working several minimum-wage jobs and having to live with her parents. See it here: http://usuncut.com/politics/incredible-moment-bernie-sanders-rally-iowa-video/
I thought, this morning: Nobody could watch that clip unmoved.
We don’t know anything about the woman, how much of her plight is the result of bad choices, or bad luck, or whatever. But, watching, listening, we do suddenly remember, this is a human being; this is a person, not a statistic, not an abstraction.
Multiply by millions; remember that these millions live in the most productive economy on earth, and remember that it is in no way their fault that the value of every dollar they earn has been consistently chipped away by inflation, giving them invisible pay cuts every single year for their entire life, with no offsetting increase in the number of the depreciated dollars they receive.
My first job after college, I made $6,000 a year as a news reporter. My wife and I lived small, saved HALF of it, and after a year traveled to Europe for six weeks before I went on to grad school. Nobody could do that today. Today, the buying power equivalent of that nominal $6,000 would probably be $40,000. (I’m guessing, of course.) So people are being told to live on the equivalent of $1,500 in 1970. Is it any wonder that people are starving, and that the American dream is dying?
It is an achievement of Senator Sanders – perhaps not the least of his remarkable achievements this remarkable year – to suddenly put the human face back into the economic argument.
You shall know the truth, it says in an old book you may have heard of, and the truth shall make you free.