This week our bathtub cracked and leaked into two rooms. After we cleaned up the mess, my husband patched the tub, and we decided to shop for a new one. Step one was a home visit from a full service bath replacement business. The salesman tried to sell us a $7,800 bathtub on sale for the low, low price of $6,400. When my subtle attempts to decline the offer didn’t work, I told him that the only thing I’d ever bought for more than $6,400 was the car in the driveway. I also admitted that my washer and dryer were free. He laughed at me and suggested I was a thief. I told him, “No, I didn’t steal them. Someone no longer needed them and gave them to someone who did.”
Once this man left the house, I got to thinking that the bathtub situation reflects much of what I do not like about national politics. Find me someone elected to serve in Washington who wouldn’t or couldn’t buy a $6,400 bathtub. Either they’re bathing in something at least that price, or they are being lobbied or otherwise courted by someone who does.
The $6,400 bathtub people are out of touch with the daily choices of most Americans. They are baffled when we are generous with each other, such as when one of us gives away gently used furniture or appliances. They would rather keep us in constant class warfare so we don’t notice things like how much of our post-Recession economic gains went to the top 1%. It’s not so hard for them to stoke the resentment of the middle class towards the poor when our shrinking middle class is disproportionately burdened with funding entitlements. Unlike the rich and multinational corporations, they can’t afford to offshore or otherwise shelter significant amounts of their income from taxation.
Now that so many have slipped from prosperity, class warfare alone isn’t enough to keep us distracted, so all of the clamor over the Affordable Care Act has been useful to divide us further. It’s like Obama held a banquet at which he served universal health care, and the powers that be who dined on it shat out a long-wicked missile designed to drive prescription sales and resentment of the sick and poor. As they walked to their limos after that banquet, I imagine they joked that they could persuade the press and then the American public to nickname their mess after Obama. In attacking the ACA, they had the best divide and conquer weapon yet because through maligning it they could get us to resent anyone who needs health care. They want you to hate your fellow Americans, with your Lipitor prescription in hand, eager to eat the shit sandwich of self-funded health care.
As that salesman left this evening, he joked that I would never get anyone to give me a bathtub. I don’t want or need anyone to give me a bathtub. What matters is that I am the kind of person who would help give someone else a bathtub, just not a $6,400 one.