04 November 2006

Let's Hear It For Joe Sixpack

I was thinking about some of the politics I have read and the people that tend to write it.

There is a common disdain for "Joe Sixpack" among what I call the Ivory Tower types.


Find a nice wide river. OK, Ivory Tower, how do you cross it? If you do anything but swim you are using the fruits of Joe's labor. He's the guy that torqued the bolts and poured the concrete. He might not be able to design it, that's not his job, nor would he want it. Joe likes to work with his hands.

I was a drafter, a midway position between Joe and the engineer. I can neither design, nor build a bridge. But I facilitated the communication between them so that bridge could be built. Joe doesn't speak, or want to speak, Engineer. But the engineer can't build the bridges without him.

All Joe wants at the end of the day is a good meal, a beer, a place to drink it and someone to share his life with.

So, when you cross a river dry, when you drink clean water from your tap, when you flip the light switch and the bulb lights up, when you eat food that you didn't have to hunt or gather yourself. Thank Joe! Especially thank him if you cannot even begin to build a bridge, purify water, make electricity or farm.

And by they way, Ivory Tower, he holds you in far more contempt than you hold him. He can drive down the road to the bridge and see what he made. He can see that the hospital is not choked with the victims of parasites in the water. He can see the streetlights have power and houses are warm in the winter. He can look around at a restaurant and see people enjoying their meals. He wonders what you look at with pride. He will also wonder how you can be proud of the things you are proud of if you try to explain it to him. He understands the pride the engineer has in designing the bridge. He understands the drafter's (my) pride in drawing it. He understands the pride of building it. He does not understand the pride in funding it with other people's money.

Perhaps this is the disconnect point. He wants to know what you built. He doesn't hold the engineer or the drafter in contempt, he knows that he is their hands. He enjoys that these men of education cannot realize their dreams without him. He doesn't mind interdependence.

He wants to be shown, what doesn't exist without you? What exists because you do? Be careful before you answer, you have to pick something that will impress him. Providing welfare so that someone down on their luck can weather the bad times and get back on their feet will impress him. Providing welfare to a 13 year old mom with a 26 year old mother and 39 year old grandmother and not one job between them will not. He will want to know why they don't have enough pride to get jobs. He might understand why they can't find a job, but he won't understand why they don't look.

Originally Posted on my LiveJournal; comments reproduced below.

Ravenclaw Eric said: "I have to agree with you here, despite being more the "Ivory Tower" type myself. I've never understood the contempt that a lot of the coffeehouse proletariat have for real working people."

Anonymous said: "It is very interesting how people, once they have attained a certain level of money and isolation from the common person, will look down upon and criticize those without - even if that is how they started out. Add to that the individuals like the "Ivory Tower" types who are so disconnected from actually "doing" anything constructive themselves and it does paint a pretty sad picture.
I strongly believe that welfare should only be given as an intermediate and TEMPORARY step towards pulling oneself out of financially difficult times. Requiring that anyone on welfare perform some sort of service or task while on welfare is also something that I strongly believe should exist - even if it is something simple like sweeping a section of the street they live on or picking up trash in a park once or twice a week.
Too bad most of the "Ivory Tower" types wouldn't even understand, let alone try to change, this if they saw it..."
Michele Evermore said: "This is totally my problem with a lot of the people I have worked with. Especially right now, my boss who has a Master's and is constantly calling me worthless for not having one. Meanwhile, she's trying to head a poverty reduction project. Looking down on people, and then "trying to help them" is exactly the problem with these people you are calling Ivory Tower.
generational poverty happens in many ways because no one expects "certain kinds of people" to really be able to get a job and function in the world. but in reality, the only thing that is really useful to them in the long run is getting work experience. Otherwise, even if your heart bleeds for the 13 year old mom and 26 year old grandmother, you're still being an asshole and not doing them (or the taxpayers) much good if you create a system that doesn't push them toward a real job.
This entire project I am working with is not about building a damned thing. It's about making people talk to each other more, like the overeducated people in nonprofits do. because if you talk like they talk, then you will be like them, and then you'll be rich like they are. They are really THAT disconnected from reality. Because just like being poor can travel from one generation to another, being an over-educated elitist snob does too.
And they don't understand WHY joe sixpack (who I think is me more than the overeducated people are) thinks they are full of shit. 
What the towns in my program need is someone to explain to people how to start a business. How to leverage cheap loans to build the shit that needs built. But they are very steadfast in their refusal to provide any technical assistance at all. "BEcause the process works, and if they have the right communication process, the answer will have to be right." Um, yeah. Unless they want to do any one of a thousand god-awful stupid things I've seen communities come up with to solve all their woes.
Real technical assistance could happen at a fraction of the cost of this program. but nooooooo. We have to have 3 different patented processes of talking. i could go on for days but it just makes me angrier and angrier."

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