Us vs Them

The press and the politicians would have us believe that this country is a huge mess of “us” versus “them” combinations. No matter where you turn, there’s a debate raging – white versus minority, pro-life versus pro-choice, liberal versus conservative, urban versus rural, smoker versus non-smoker, the list is endless. In a sense, “they” are right – there is an “us versus them” war raging – but it’s not any of the groups listed above. The real war is something totally separate. The real war isn’t about rich or poor, color or creed, liberal or conservative. The real war is about privilege. So, how can you tell if you’re an “us” or a “them?” Here are a few tell-tale signs. If getting caught driving under the influence involves court appearances, loss of driving privileges, jail time, probation, and likely damage to employment and marriage because of all of those other events, you’re part of us. If wrecking your car in front of a police officer earns you a stern talking to and a ride home to sleep it off, well, you’re one of them. Joking about your drug excesses “in the past,” yet doing everything possible to keep the drug laws as draconian as possible, makes you one of them. Believing the drug war has gone on too long – and gone way too far in destroying lives – makes you one of us. Juggle your business budget. Squeeze as many cents as possible into advertising. Cross your fingers with hope that your advertising will bring in a handful of new customers before the business is forced to close. You’re one of us. If you can slip some money into a pet lawmaker’s pocket, and get them to pass a law ordering the public to purchase your product, you’re one of them. In the same vein, if you can get a law passed that drives your competition out of business, or forces them to raise their prices, or just makes it illegal for your competition to sell their product, you’re one of them. If starting a new job requires you to provide three different forms of identification and a vial or two of bodily fluids, you’re us. If you feel you can thumb your nose at those requirements, you’re them. When you’re one of them, your job gets you three to four weeks or more of paid time off a year, two hour two martini lunches paid through an expense account or a lobbyist, and firing you requires an act of Congress. If you’re lucky to get more than five days off a year, let alone paid for them, you’re one of us. If your budgeting requirements demand that the numbers stay positive – even if it means going without – you’re an us. If you think the government debt and deficit can rise into the stratosphere with no repercussions, consider yourself one of them. Run your business into the ground and be forced into bankruptcy, and you’re one of us. Have your pet congresscritter divert tax money and bailout funds to keep your business afloat when it deserves to go belly-up, and you’re one of them. When you’re one of us, a typo on your tax return leads to audits, and the expenditure of hundreds or even thousands of dollars on CPA and lawyer assistance. Leave out huge chunks of income or just flat out refuse to file your taxes, and then accept a cushy high-paying high-profile government position, and you’re one of them. Waging multiple wars, keeping troops stationed all over the world, and spending a billion dollars a day to keep up with it all. If these are required, you’re one of them. If you would love to see all of those troops come home, then you’re one of us. If one of your coworkers gets caught accepting a bribe, and you get upset with that coworker, you’re one of us. If you get upset with the investigating officers for having the nerve to search your coworker’s office and freezer for the money, you’re one of them. Does government help the common people and solve problems? If you think so, you’re one of them. If you think government causes problems and makes certain well-connected insiders rich at the expense of the common people, you’re one of us. Finally, if you think government is the solution, you’re one of them. If you think government is the problem, you’re one of us.