8/14/2007

08-14-07 - 1

There are so many racists in this country. When Dan's bike was stolen a million voices cried out "it was probably one of those Mexicans you guys are surrounded by". I came to their defense, and it made me realize just how much respect and admiration I have for the working poor. They are the greatest embodiment of the professed (but not lived) Republican values - supporting family, respecting your elders, deep Religious belief, hard work, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, clawing for an education, starting businesses. I would trust the average immigrant day laborer more than your average corporate/yuppie type. Maybe when it comes to minor petty theft the day laborer is more likely to do it, but that's only because it's significant to him and not the corporate guy. When it comes to really screwing someone else over horribly, something like denying insurance benefits to someone who's broke and lost their home, the corporate guy is far more likely to fuck someone for a profit than the day laborer; but that just shows my own prejudice about each class.

Anyway, the thing that got me thinking was recycling. It has long been a practice of the homeless in San Francisco to make the rounds of all the streets as they put out their garbage cans. They come the night before the garbage trucks and pick out all the bottles and cans to turn them in for the CRV. Back in January California raised the CRV (though it just now changed at the register, it was paying higher in January), and since then I've noticed a change. More and more of the guys I see picking out cans and bottles are from the "working poor" class rather than the homeless. Today I saw two different guys who were picking bottles, obviously not homeless. One was a Chinese guy, he had rubber gloves on and a push cart, and was working down Guerrero methodically. Just now I saw a Hispanic guy driving a truck with plywood stuck in the sides to make a big deep bed, and he was stopping at each recycling bin and pulling the bottles and cans and tossing them in his truck.

It reminds me of a New York Times article I read a while ago about how all these people in China were dieing in the dumps there, because they were going to the dump to scavenge for copper and stuff to sell and make a living, and they were getting crushed in the compactors or methane explosions or landslides or all the other dangers in a chaotic working dump. At the time I thought it was a reminder of how poor China still is; we think of China as this exploding threat, but the reality is 99% of the people there are still just ridiculously poor. Now I'm seeing these signs that America isn't really that different, we just have tighter security on our dumps so that our poor aren't even allowed to profit from the refuse of the rich.

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old rants