"Sam, throw me the ball," Jim yelled reaching his hands high into the air. Samantha hurled the ball skyward. It flew effortlessly gliding on the early afternoon breeze coming out of the west making its way over the top of the flag pole into Jim's waiting hands.
It was a beautiful day on the high plains with white puffs dotting an otherwise boundless cobalt blue sky. The land had this peaceful, assured quality that allowed those who lived here to expect certain continuity in their everyday lives. Very little erupted outside the known; most days just had a rhythm that rode along without complaint.
Samantha and Jim Hauser along with their parents Mary and Martin had resided in the sturdy farm home on Rustin Ave outside of Oxford, Kansas since May 1999. After being stuffed into a four-story apartment building in Wichita for ten excruciating years Mary and Martin had finally saved up enough to purchase this hundred and three year old home.
Even though the Hauser's were fond of calling their house a farm home those who'd slept under its roof hadn't been farmers for some fifty-five odd years. The land being sold off, all except four acres that the house was planted on now belonged to a large agribusiness that owned most of the farmland in the area. For contrary to all rustic accounts, farming had always been a business not some pleasure filled excursion into the rugged past. The only difference between now and then was that now it was a soulless, passionless machine driven money making concern controlled mostly by New York investors.
But none of the agribusiness machinations concerned the Hauser's whose only link to this powerfully connected big business block was the federal taxes they paid every year to support this and other needy business interests. The Hauser's were far removed from those who owned the government for they were sheltered in their seemingly secure jobs at a Rubber Maiden factory south of Wilton.
Martin had worked at the Rubber Maiden factory since leaving high school. Not much interested in pursuing additional education merely to plaster a piece of paper on some office wall Martin opted to work hard with strong hands and arms. He'd always been a firm believer in the system; that is the established order. Never questioning why certain levers were pulled but others froze in place. Martin just accepted every indignity, inequity, and raw deal thrown down from above with stoic resignation.
When raises were lowered this past year from a fairly consistent three percent to a paltry one percent he just went to the bar down the street for a drink. Coming home after downing more than a single beer he slipped quietly into bed. That night he held Mary tightly as they both spent a sleepless night contemplating how they'd come up with a three hundred dollar increase in health insurance.
The tough part of all this was that the one percent pay raise really translated into an effective pay cut for Martin of about two hundred and fifty dollars; the increase in health insurance premiums ate away the raise and much, much more.
They'd already been living on a razors edge even before these one percent raises had been chiseled in stone but this coupled with double-digit health insurance premiums meant they'd have to make drastic cuts in their family budget. But what could possibly be cut when the income received from you're hard work just kept declining while you're expenses continued their relentless climb into the outer limits of unreasonableness. The Hauser's wondered how long they could continue along this path of falling real wages before they be forced into personal bankruptcy.
Always, paying their bills on time, following the 'rules' required of folks at the low end of the power spectrum they found it hard to believe that their slide towards financial destitution was an anomaly. What had precipitated this crazy screwed up situation that they found themselves sloshing through?
Far removed from the plains of Kansas in an opulent tower in New York City their employer's executives had been scouring the financials for potential cost cuts that always seemed to soak income from those least able to withstand the financial assault. These princely paid servants of yet higher positioned business elites were getting pressure from shareholders who were demanding a steep accent in the company's share price. Although this was an unreasonable demand especially on a year in year out basis these lords of the business round table were compelled to tap any potential income stream (cutting wages even though a business expense were viewed by workers as income) and reroute it into the hands of shareholders some of them clearly not in desperate need of additional income.
Besides the shareholders, there were these corporate executives: a struggling group of fast-talking leaches who also required adequate pampering. They're pacifiers took the form of multi-million dollar increases in total compensation. While Mary and Martin struggled to pay the bills on one percent pay raises that when increased health care costs were factored in forced them to take a pay cut the executives sucked from Rubber Maiden revenue compensation increases totaling no less than three hundred to five hundred times what laborers like Mary and Martin made each year.
The economic system, society that it rested upon, and government that fostered this idiotic unsustainable lopsided adventure into global stagnation; all had become vested in a multitude of obscene ways in perpetuating this illusion of continuity. At some point something would have to give way but there wasn't a soul alive that wanted to face the fact that the entire ultra-capitalist economic system was untenable.
It was untenable because it was unstable. Stable systems required balance between their sub-components - homeostasis. In the case of the ultra-capitalist economic system all the power rested in the bloated hands of a single sub-component, or if you prefer a single group, the business elite. Laborers who were the other essential sub-component in this system-of-systems had no power, at least in countries like the United States where labor unions had become virtually non-existent. This meant that businesses had a free reign in distorting the ultra-capitalist economic system to their absolute advantage. This distortion of the economic system came with a price in the form of destabilization, destabilization that would eventually push the entire society into an even more untenable position - totalitarianism.
So with these and other powerful vested interests on the business side of the equation vying for ever more from a withering prune was it any wonder that Martin and Mary's problems were never acknowledged or for that matter even considered. They were just two among the many powerless workers least able to voice an objection in a country no longer equipped to address their needs. Their meager income would continue to be drained to feed any shortfalls in a system that was ultimately doomed to failure. Those who controlled the levers of business and government would do whatever it took to maintain their constant stream of income regardless of the consequences to country or citizens. Not wanting to confront their crumbling reality for what it was Mary and Martin moved further into poverty.
Mary like Martin having been brought up in a nurturing home where the virtues of hard work and stoic acceptance had been preached felt that lower wages must be taken with a resigned stiff upper lip; their lot was not to question, just be thankful. They both were just incapable of comprehending the injustice of having those who made the most take the most from those who made the least. They were the fodder for a society that would eventually take everything in order to feed the insatiable greed of those who moved the levers only when it benefited them.