On Monday, just after I read the eye-opening and frightening story by Ms. McNeil about Trevis Smith and his family's nightmare, an economist friend in DC sent me a recent article by Walter Mosley from the The Nation called Show Me the Money. It says in part:
"The rich get richer..." This truism is irrefutable. "...and the poor get poorer." We look away from ourselves, and our loved ones, when the latter phrase is used to complete the saying.
Often only the first part of this age-old axiom is quoted. It's as if we are silently saying, "There's no reason to talk about the poor, about poverty. Let's just accept the notion that money migrates toward money and leave it at that."
But where does this money, which moves so unerringly into rich folks' pockets, come from? This is one of the most important questions in everyday working people's lives. Because the money that makes the rich richer comes out of the sweat, the sacrifice and ultimately the blood of working men and women.
Many people deny that they are the victims in the proverb because even though the rich make money off them, too, they are also making money, being middle class, off the working and lower classes.
It's an imagined pyramid scheme, and like all its brethren, a scam.
So-called middle-class people look at working people and say to themselves, "I'm not doing so bad. Look at that poor slob. He's the one getting poorer. I'm traveling along in the wake of the rich. I don't have a mansion, but I own a mortgage on a house."
This is what the poor Irish and Italians and Jews told themselves about black people in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century New York.
Today people say it about the Mexican and Central and South American migrant laborers who toil in our fields and factories. "They are the ones who live in squalor and poverty."
What is the difference between the working class and the middle class? Is it a clearly demarcated line dividing those who pass on wealth and those who accrue it?
Most people I know consider themselves middle-class workers. They're making good money, they say, and have good credit at the bank. Their children will go to good colleges and get better jobs. They will retire in comfort and travel to Europe (or Africa) to see the genesis of their culture.
These self-proclaimed middle-class citizens feel a certain private smugness about their proven ability to make it in this world while those in the working and lower classes--because of upbringing, lack of intelligence or will, or bad luck--are merely the fuel for the wealth of the nation.
But how do you know where you fit in the class system? Is it a level of income? Is it defined by education or the kind of job you possess? Is class a function of your relationship to your labor? For instance, are you in the middle class because you own your own business? Or are we defined by our rung on the ladder? As long as we are not at the bottom (or the top), then we can say we are in the middle. ...
Wealth, in my definition, is when money is no longer an issue or a question. Wealthy people don't know how much money they have or how much they make. Their worth is gauged in property, natural resources and power, in doors they can go through and the way that law works. Wealth moves like a shark over the rockbound crustaceans of the poor and working classes. ..."
After reading both articles, all I could think of was how the one time, rising football star, the young Mr. Smith was not only caught by the nightmares of HIV/AIDS, but like almost everybody, is at the mercies of the two things that make this wide world go round -- Love and Money.
The love part of Trevis' story is pretty obvious, and a money trail is too.
I made a few phone calls to sport's writer friends and found out that Trevis had been negotiating with an NFL team that Charlie Parker would be a fan of if he was alive not long before his legal troubles began, and just maybe he was not intending to resign for the 2006 season. I don't know for sure that there is any connection between this and the authorities suddenly deciding he was a threat to Canada, but it is not hard to believe given what I do know for sure about big money, corporate sports.
And speaking of big money, my favorite TV personality, Ms. Winfrey, belongs to the real rich and powerful elite Mr. Mosley writes about, and has so much money she can give 99% of it away and still have more than me or you will have in ten working life times. Why she continues to shill for the AIDS establishment is a matter for her and her expensive psychiatrists if she can bring herself to discuss such things with them. Maybe one day she will see the light. As I said, she has more money and power and is more generally liked and trusted than almost any member of that exclusive club, and can change her mind in a second, if she only would.
But Mr. Smith was a salaried, working stiff before the AIDS devils caught him. Even though he must have made decent money playing in Canada, he could not have stashed away enough to be out of work for so long and pay lawyers, and I imagine his family is not in very good financial shape right now.
So Oprah, even if you won't have me on your show anytime soon, how can you not invite our little sister Tamika to be your guest, and tell her very real and terrible story of AIDS and the African American?
Peace & Love,
A new biography, by noted sport's writer Frank Murphy, The Last Protest: Lee Evans in Mexico City, contains the only account of that unforgettable olympics Lee vouches for as accurate. Mr. Evans is currently the head track and field coach at The Univesity of South Alabama in Mobile, and one of his recruits, Vincent Rono (from Kenya) captured the gold in the men's 1500 m. final of the NCAA games held in Sacramento in June. Almost nobody knew this because the TV commenters thought the real story was in interviewing the second place finisher from Florida. Even though he lost, his team (the favorite) still took first, and the TV people wanted to make sure he did not feel really badly about being beaten by some African from a no name university who was coached by the still unmentionable Lee Evans, who told Avery Brundidge and the entire racist Olympic establishment where to shove it 40 years ago. And since he never recanted, he has never been forgiven. I don't have to say how many national medals the UofSouthA won before his arrival four short years ago, but it would be the same as the number of AIDS patients cured in more than 25. (Otis)