“Gutter Trash” is a term I heard all my life. It signified a person, most often a man (since women had their own names that you could identify with). As I got older, I always associated gutter trash with Huck Finn’s pa…lived on the other side of the tracks, the sort of man who would steal anything not nailed down, and who would knock you in the head and grab your money if you should walk down a dark alley over on his side of the track. He was never clean shaven, his clothes smelled of unwashed. And his breath stunk of alcohol.
That type still exists, for we see them everywhere these days, camped out in Blue-city open lots, or under over-passes. Often we feel a little compassion for them, at least until we see them up close and hear them curse out a clerk at McDonalds. Some are drunks and drug addicts. Far too many are vets. Most get a check. And a few are even genuine “bums” who actually prefer the freedom of the open road, and had been wintering in San Francisco long before those squalid, infectious camps sprung up. Even bums can be particular about their neighbors.
You see, “Gutter Trash” is a state of mind, not an economic condition.
And yes, there is a distaff side to Gutter Trash, called “sluttery”, which also was once a pursuit exclusive to the across-the-tracks classes. This became a hot subject in 2012 because Rush Limbaugh, correctly, but mistakenly, called Sandra Fluke, a law student at the prestigious Georgetown Law School, a slut, costing him some advertisers years before the kneeler Colin Kaepernick wagged his finger at Nike for selling a shoe with the Betsy Ross flag logo, and which has been turned into a full-court foot-kissing ceremony by the NFL and NBA (and indirectly the NCAA), i.e, Big Sport, toward the highest echelons of the modern Gutter Trash League, about which this short series will attempt to outline.
(I’ve attached citations for my sluttery articles here and here, both from 2012, but not because of sluttery, but because of Madison Avenue’s response to Limbaugh, as well as Georgetown University’s lack of a response to Sandra Fluke’s rather glaring prideful public admission of sexual incontinence. At the time I considered Sandra well, a fluke, but I overlooked the Jesuit Order dimension, which should be troubling. Big Religion.
But now the high jinks of a young Congresswoman, Kate Hill of California, being filmed in the nude, grooming a staffer sitting on the floor in front of her, only goes to show the accretion power of sluttery since 2012 and wages paid for the Jesuits turning their collective blind eye.
So today forget Pa Finn. We are beset by a whole different kind of Gutter Trash, for they do wear the best of clothes, drive the finest cars, have the swellest of educations and live in the classiest neighborhoods, almost as if they were royalty.
In fact, this is precisely how they see themselves.
I chose Joe Biden as my poster boy for modern Gutter Trash because you couldn’t find anyone more average-to-below average to become the youngest US Senator, at age 30 and to accumulate millions of dollars, not only for himself, but his son…without ever having produced a single thing of value, unless you consider “influence” to be as tangible as oil, corn, or an automobile coming off the line in Michigan.
Every top of the pyramid has to have a bottom, and believe it or not, Joe and his type are the shoulders, like Atlas, that holds up the base.
This is just an opening chapter of all the things we had grown over many years to believe are key elements of a free market capitalist and moral (as stressed by Adam Smith) economy that have moved onto to new heights, or depths, depending on how you choose to see it, in the past three decades.
Elected lawmakers have always been considered to be at the bottom rung of our free economy for the simple reason that almost none of them, until our current president, had ever actually participated in that free economy as having produced anything, whether from plowed ground, a factory floor, or even in the sales or service economies. I know, a few may have bussed tables or bagged groceries at A&P on weekends, or cut neighbors’ grass, which was how I earned my spending money at about the same time Joe Biden was growing up. A few from Joe’s generation may even have worked part-time to pay their way through school.
In America’s history we’ve had very few elected political leaders get into the game without gaining wealth being a primary objective. The Roosevelts, the Kennedys, and today, Donald Trump. But power is another story.
But beneath president almost all elected offices sought the money first, and then, once secured, (watch Paul Ryan’s career grow in the private consulting sector) to pursue greater wealth that would reflect their power and influence.
Harry Reid was my favorite story of a money-sucking politician, a guy who started out as a city attorney in Nevada, won his first elected office at age 29, and never looked back. (I’ll deal with lawyers-in-general in a later post.) At a top rate of $193,000 as Senate Majority Leader when he retired, Harry’s net worth was estimated at over $10 million. Personally I think it’s much higher, and why I think it’s much higher is that Joe Biden couldn’t match Harry at any corrupt skill level, and Joe has finagled much greater wealth for himself and his family.
For below-average-ness, nobody could beat Joe Biden. From a Catholic college-prep high school to a BA from University of Delaware, bottom 25% (506 of 688) to Univ of Syracuse Law School, bottom 11% (76 of 85), and thence, after a short failed career in private law, a run for Senate against a Richard Nixon-backed Delaware Republican, which he won by just a little more than 3000 votes.
Joe had a plagiarism problem in law school too, but was allowed to redo his paper, as he said he had simply done a poor job of citations and the “F” he received would likely have kept him from graduating. (He had no staff to blame at this time.)
His family had a drinking problem, so Joe said be had been an abstainer since high school. But something kept him away from the books, as his class ranking/GPA indicates. He was a well-known “crammer” in both under-grad and law school. Just three years older than me, Joe could have had an addiction to Doo Wop and dancing. He strikes me as a Dion and the Belmonts type. Or he could have been a skirt-chaser, as he was handsome, an alpha-leader by reputation, and could have been “all hands” in the backseat of a ’56 Chevy for all we know.
Who knows, and these days, who would even care as long as those creepy long fingers belonged to a Democrat? Right?
And Joe’s record of deferments during the Vietnam War are closer to Bill Clinton’s than Donald Trump’s. (Someone tell the theocrats at Huffington Post that).
His wife, Nelia, and daughter, Naomi, were killed in a crash with a semi in 1972, just before Joe was sworn into the Senate. His two sons were seriously injured. For years it had been reported by the media that the trucker was drunk and at fault. Turns out this was not true, although the trucker went his grave carrying the stigma that he’s killed Senator Biden’s wife and daughter.
* * *
So what? you ask.
Since Joe’s not going to be the nominee, and probably isn’t going to do time for corruption in China or Ukraine, what’s the big deal?
I just want to give here a general description of the Gutter Trash politician-type that has adorned the American political landscape probably since Andrew Jackson introduced corruption into the American political party system in 1828.
But in the old days most got caught, so had abbreviated careers, thanks largely to an understanding between a skeptical public and a vigilant press.
But in the past 30 years two monster Gutter Trash politicians have risen to the highest positions in the land, president and vice-president, completely re-coloring the portrait for what passes as a true-blue American politician. There is something different in our water.
These are not just two carp that escaped the national seine net.
This should be unsettling enough, but, like childhood measles without vaccinations, the political class was always the first to fall prey to this corruption virus, for the simple reason the pickings were always there among virtually all college and law school classes’ bottom 25%.
(This is not to disparage those graduating C-students, most of whom went onto private careers of their own choosing which involved no dishonesty or corruption, in private industry/business or private law practice. But bottom feeders weren’t defined by grades but rather a lack of ambition and a constant search for the easy buck, not unlike street hoods from Capone’s day to Baltimore.
Remember the axiom that at both ends of the economic spectrum, there is a leisure class. So guys like Joe partied their way through school, crammed for tests, took the C with a sigh of relief. They made up for their lack of knowledge or can-do with lots of connections; pals. And government work was always the easiest, even when it paid less. Now it doesn’t.)
A lot of things have changed since 1990, in the American economy as well as the world economy. China went capitalist in the sense that it returned to type, its leaders seeking personal wealth as had been the case for two thousand years before Mao. (My original consulting business plan before Tiananmen Square in ’89 was to show SE Asian and US investors how Chinese were cooking their books. Knowing their tricks could make other Asian competitors more competitive with China’s incredibly lower labor costs.)
That was then. Since the 90s the Chinese leaders have had no intention of sharing their wealth with the production class (proletariat), while, on the other hand the Russians simply replaced the old Soviet nomenklatura with oligarchs who had even less sweat equity than the Chinese in the commodities Russia actually produced; oil & gas and beautiful women with no store-bought parts. They still have different ideas of how to manage the proletariat, but are largely on the same page as to manage the revenues they produce.
Both are stylistically fascist because they can dress up in nicer clothes than those ugly Mao jackets or cheap polyester business suits. We may have to come up with a new name as to what they have become.
But whatever they call it, America shouldn’t want to be a part of it….but for the eight years leading up to Donald Trump, and possibly longer, we were being steered in that direction.
In coming short pieces we’ll look at the American political class and the government bureaucratic class versus the Marxist design of “owning the means of production” versus “controlling the means of production” and how American business schools have leant their weight behind the latter, and the rise of a supra-national corporations who largely produce nothing, in the same manner George Soros produces nothing.
From hedge funds to massive corporate conglomerates run by second and third generation men and women who have not a minute’s worth of sweat equity into any of the corporations they oversee, much like the European Union’s management tier, we need to ask, “is it really free market capitalism if it creates no new money?” Where does the emerging tech sector fit in?
Corruption used to be rare, now it’s the norm, so normal it appears legitimate., especially since it is on a scale that is almost unmeasurable. Corruption is not a product. There is no sweat equity.
So we need to inquire deeper into this creation of the new League of Gutter Trash.