The American Social Contract


“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved.”

– Jack Kerouac

In the 20th century, the U.S. saved itself.

“In the 20th century, Americans adopted a new ‘social contract’—a support system to help provide every American with the basic security and goods considered necessary to enjoy a productive and enterprising life,” to use Michael Lind’s definition of social contract from his 2007 New America Foundation  paper.

Corporate America holds a gun made of money to the U.S. government’s head and has forced it to drop its contract with its citizens.

In the 1990s, when I was in high school, I made $10 an hour as a hostess at the Soup Plantation in West Los Angeles. My job was to open the door and say, “Welcome to Soup Plantation.” Twenty years ago I made $10 an hour. There are people who work in childcare in 2014 who make $11 an hour in Los Angeles. Childcare workers are entrusted with the welfare of our children in the formative years of their lives; why can they not make enough money to feed their own children?

In the 1990s, do you know who did job training? The company did job training. When I was a junior in college and worked at SunAmerica (when I had a real job with benefits and not just an internship: I sold and serviced tax deferred variable annuities) and occasionally rode the elevator with Eli Broad (who is no. 203 on Forbes lists of the richest people in the world), the company trained me.

This idea that schools are supposed to train you to do the thousands of job duty possibilities that exist in the world is false. School is supposed to train you to think, so that you be easily trained at a job, create art or conceive a new political system.

Corporate America is blaming the government-run schools as the reason that they are not hiring and we the people are falling for it. Based on these lies, we’re helping to dig our own graves.

We are all reasonably lying down in our own coffins.

In Inglewood, Mayor Butts took away health benefits of workers who signed contracts that 25 years ago stated that the workers would have lifetime health benefits.

The same politicians who give corporate America more and more and who assist the rich in taking away our benefits are getting lifetime benefits for themselves and their spouses just for sitting in office for 10 years and selling us out.

To get the same benefits as a corporate-bought puppet politician, U.S. military personnel have to perform 20 years of duty and are expected to put themselves—and sometimes their families—in mortal danger. I’m sure that after those 20 years, our service men and women don’t have nearly the “Cadillac” benefits our puppet politicians do.

We elected politicians to protect our interests. In theory, corporate America cannot vote—but that is the only group for which politicians in both parties are working.

We are told to be outraged at the retirement and health benefits that union workers get, but everyone used to get that in the U.S. That was part of living in the U.S. The tax breaks and the tax credits that private businesses get are supposed to be paying for your pension, your healthcare and your fair wages. You’re not suppose to die in a SRO eating dogfood, having a kickstarter or gofundme campaign so you can get chemo or dialysis.

You are not supposed to be shot and killed in a poorly run private foundation-funded Veterans’ facility and not be recognized by the very U.S. community you risked life and limb to serve and protect.

The U.S. is the richest country in the world, and when we say we hate the government and we want the government out of our business what we’re really saying is we want to die toothless and not be able to collect SSI because we were never able to pay off our student loans (if you do not pay off your student loan, you do not get to collect SSI) and not be able to collect a pension because, uhhh they just don’t do that anymore.

I’m not going to let the government off that easy. I’m not going to let myself off that easy. WE are the government.  WE need to run the schools. WE need to provide employment for the many unemployed. WE need to provide real universal health care. The single payer health care; that was the real one.

WE need to expand and provide family leave.

WE need to have family leave.

I’m not going to let the government off that easy. I’m not going to let US off that easy. I’m not going to let corporate America privatize everything (nonprofits are part of the privatization)  that used to be public and then take away my rights.

Free speech, freedom of the press, the right to not be searched, access to education and anti-discrimination laws  are only as strong as the government.

Demand that the U.S. Government lives up to its social contract. We are entitled because we are the government. We built this country.

The 1% didn’t build this country. They didn’t plant the cotton. They didn’t lay the railroad tracks. They didn’t let you slide on your bill in small town grocery stores. We did that. The 1% didn’t get beaten upside the head by cops so that all American’s could have civil rights. We did that.

We the people are entitled to reap the benefits that we sowed.

Be mad, friends, be mad and stand up. If the sane and reasonable will let someone kill them and say thank you as they die lonely, poor and forgotten on the street, let us be mad.

Teka-Lark Fleming is the publisher of the Morningside Park Chronicle newspaper. It is a weekly print newspaper covering Black L.A. from Inglewood to the Eastside. Contact publisher@mpchronicle.net


Teka-Lark Fleming is the publisher of the Morningside Park Chronicle newspaper. It is a weekly print newspaper covering Black L.A. from Inglewood to the Eastside. Contact publisher@mpchronicle.net

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