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Straws in the wind at the convenience store: "Welcome to America"

[Welcome, Crooks & Liars readers! Welcome, Naked Capitalism readers! Welcome, Credit Writedowns readers! --lambert]

There's a chain convenience store near my house, and until I implemented the dreaded lifestyle change and started eating a lot more vegetables and fruit, I used to buy cookies there -- let's say, Pecan Sandies, just to disguise my identity slightly -- all the time. (I know, expensive, but we don't have a lot of stores in town.) So much so that the counter kids and I used to joke about it all the time. "Your Pecan Sandies are in!"

Well, in the last six months or so, the chain got sold to a bigger chain, and the new corporation started making a lot of inventory changes, rearranging the displays, downsizing the packaging, bringing in new people, and all that. And the Pecan Sandies dwindled in their packaging and then disappeared from the shelves entirely.

So, last night, I had the following conversation:

LAMBERT: No pecan sandies. It's like they're taking away everything I want.

COUNTER KID: Welcome to America.


And the counter kid was not a college kid or an irony-drenched hipster, but a gangly, unfashionably stubbled, slow-moving twenty-something from up in the County; this wasn't his throwaway job; this was his job*. Thin, in his ill-fitting, coarsely-stitched red corporate golf shirt. And, needless to say [or not?], we'd never discussed politics.

So Bob Herbert is right:

There is a widespread feeling that only the rich and well-placed can count on Washington’s help, and that toxic sentiment is spreading like the oil stain in the gulf, with ominous implications for President Obama and his party. It’s in this atmosphere that support for the president and his agenda is sinking like a stone.

Employment is the No. 1 issue for most ordinary Americans. Their anxiety on this front only grows as they watch teachers, firefighters and police officers lining up to walk the unemployment plank as state and local governments wrestle with horrendous budget deficits. ...

By nearly 2 to 1, respondents to the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll believed the United States is on the wrong track. ... Fifty-four percent of respondents believed he does not have a clear plan for creating jobs. ...

It’s not too late for the president to turn things around, but there is no indication that he has any plan or strategy** for doing it. And the political environment right now, with confidence in the administration waning and budgetary fears unnecessarily heightened by the deficit hawks, is not good.

It would take an extraordinary exercise in leadership ...

Not to mention a D party that was electorally responsive, and a Versailles that did anything other than noisily service the banksters and rentiers.

.... to rally the country behind a full-bore jobs-creation campaign — nothing short of large-scale nation-building on the home front. Maybe that’s impossible in the current environment. But that’s what the country needs.

Yes, what we need is a Jobs Guarantee. Perhaps the President after Barack Hoover Obama will get this. But "hope" for the best, prepare for the worst.

NOTE * Making him lucky, right? But perhaps he doesn't see it that way.

NOTE ** Sure there is. The "indication" of the plan or strategy is what he is actually doing -- normalizing a permanent underclass of "differently jobbed."

NOTE Via Susie, who remarks:

Bob Herbert, unlike most pundits, understands that policies don’t count unless they improve people’s lives in a way they can see.

Concrete material benefits. Yep.

UPDATE Via Naked Capitalism, a Darwinian view.

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chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

in terms of making people feel comfortable, and so i chat up all my market workers and store clerks about politics all the time. i ask them what they think about the news stories of the day, the administration, the economy...

frankly, even the poorly educated "up county" types have more valuable opinions and thoughts than the bobbleheads, and frequently they are able to perceive or predict things that the pundits fail to do. it's part of my "local local local" strategy and i encourage all of you to do it. of course, i'm very sympathetic to a low wage worker, being one myself just now and in the past, and at the same time, i'm not afraid to approach their managers when i want them to know something. like "bring back the fucking sandies, people. i shop here enough, you should pay attention to me." sometimes, it's worked.

but in terms of building networks and creating protections for ourselves in hard times, i think none of us should be afraid to talk about verboten topics like politics, economics and religion with our neighbors who serve us and work in our 'hoods. in the end, when the shit goes down, however that goes, people with friends will be behind people without, on the line for the cattle cars. people who know about corporate orders coming down the pipe before everyone else can be valuable sources of information. i treat them as such, and with respect.

Submitted by lambert on

... on the sandies, but nada. And now I don't eat them anyhow.

* * *

But I agree on chatting up the market workers and store clerks. Absolutely.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

my area stores. i try to walk to stores whenever possible, so i tend to go to the same few more frequently than elsewhere. i'm fortunate to have a big commercial strip just blocks away (take that, Atrios! :-) so it's easy for me to get most of what i need on foot.

anyway, i split the folks i talk to into two groups, and around here it's probably about 65-35. one larger group who "get it" and one smaller group who seem to be going thru the motions until they can end their shift and go home and get stoned. which is fine. but the former group, esp the younger folks, have a natural awareness of things about them that i think will serve them well, in the coming times. and yes, like Lb's clerk, a lot of them understand instinctively: no one is going to help them. it's sad, but also gives me hope, because the next step after knowing you have to help yourself? it's that whatever you're trying to do, it will be easier with a like minded person working with you. also known as: activism.

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

Make that: When placed under a strobe light, a clock, who's hands are spinning wildly can, for an instant, appear to be correct.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Back in my College Democrat of America days (circa 2005), one of the things I brought up to one of Dean's higher ups was the need to "organize" the non-college, non-"young profression" 18-24 year old community. If that demographic was secure, then we'd all be secure. And they were always more economically populist than the hip-college kids. (And, IIRC, Hillary did rather well in this demo, particularly the young people who just started working real jobs.)

Seeing what's going on these days, I'm not surprised that fell on deaf ears. The Dean Crew, like Obama's base, didn't/doesn't care about the non-hip, non-cool, non-elite "creatives". they need an underclass of citizens to be relevant and in power as much as the banksters do.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Deaniacs proved entirely incapable of / unwilling to see how he was selling us down the river on HCR, e.g., by...

* Promoting the idea that people lurve their existing insurance
* Flogging the fake "public option"
* Claiming that the fake "public option" was Medicare

Given the choice of truth and good policy vs. fan worship and tribalism, the latter -- as usual -- won.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

the placement fee with either the chain or the distributor. The bigger the fee that you're capable of paying, the more prominently your item is displayed. If you don't pay the fee, then you probably won't last on the shelf regardless of how popular you are. Sad, but true.