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Someone has to take care of the family

FeaturesSomeone has to take care of the family

by Colin Hyde

The most celebrated feature of the system called capitalism is that it brings out the best in us. Unfortunately, it also brings out the WORST in us.

Everyone has to eat, and in the vicious capitalist system people put out their best to secure their food. But all of our “bests” aren’t equal, and the system doesn’t work the same for all of us. Some people are so square they can never fit into the round hole. There are many factors that impact our economic achievement, and a big one is size. In one country, a top songster or athlete is a millionaire, and in another country a top songster or athlete can’t put food on the table.

We could talk again about the great Okwonko and his dad, Unoka, in Chinua Achebe’s universally acclaimed Things Fall Apart. The reviewer on Study.com, Sasha Blakeley, notes that Unoka is ten years dead when we meet him in the story. Okwonko was ashamed of Unoka. Okwonko didn’t want to be “worthless” like Unoka, so he worked hard and became a big star.

Unoka was a musician, and musicians are valuable assets in their community; but in his village Unoka didn’t make much off his talent, and as a consequence he wasn’t such a good provider for Okwonko. This “failure” must have caused Unoka some stress. Maybe he couldn’t afford to eat right. Of course, his being dead at a relatively young age might be explained by genetic factors.

People have to eat. What do parents do when they see their children with their mouths open? I have heard that men sell drugs and women sell their bodies. Those are not so wholesome ways to earn a living, and if one is caught doing either they are carted off to prison.

Here’s a paradox for you: nobody is harder against us degrading ourselves than people with religious zeal, and no one does more to promote us degrading ourselves than they do. Maybe they can’t see the connection. That’s why we have to spell it. For capitalism to function, there has to be an available labor supply. Available labor supply means people who are not working. Pray, how do people who are not working find food for themselves and their families? The obvious answer is a national safety net. But many religious devotees aren’t supportive of a good national safety net. They say that encourages laziness.

My, how can people who claim The Christ as their leader be 100% for capitalism, and against safety nets and the mixed economy? Somehow, they are at a place where “they have eyes but don’t see.” But people who are hungry see, and they will put aside airs to get food on the table. I’m going to lean on the movie, Primrose Path, to give us the sense today.

This is a 1940 movie I saw on TCM twice. The big stars of the piece are Ginger Rogers and Joel McCrea, and the writer is Gregory La Cava. The main players we’re concerned with are Ginger’s family. In the movie, her name is Ellie May Adams. There’s Ellie May’s grandmother, there’s her mom, there’s her dad, and there’s her baby sister, Honeybell.

The grandmother appears to have done prostitution in her time, and Ellie’s mom goes out with men who pay for things. Ellie is proud of her dad, because he’s a man with letters. She has high hopes for him, even though he, because his education has no value in the society in which he lives, has given up on himself and has become a chronic drunk, a real wreck. The baby sister, Honeybell, is a brat. The harsh description of their abode is ramshackle, and the people living there are on the ropes.

Disgrace wasn’t the choosing of this family. The granny, who in her time sold her body to men, scolds Honeybell for low-class things like lying and stealing. And Ellie May, even though she must at least be suspicious about the activities of the only earner in the family, her mom, is holding up her head because her dad has his letters and can share deep thoughts, Greek philosophy with her.

In one scene, the mom, Mamie, comes home with prizes and is telling the granny about this wonderful rich man she met at the fair, and how he offered to marry her, and she told the man, well, I have a husband already, and granny says, like, it’s a pity that drunk one in the room doesn’t shove off, vacate this world so Mamie can explore her prospects. It’s on the heels of this conversation that we have this clip that sums up what we are about here today. Here goes:

Ellie May Adams: Do you mean you didn’t love pa when you married him?

Mamie Adams: Ah, that’s different. You see, he’d been to college and said a lot of them big words, and it kind of swept me off my feet, I guess. Pa is weak and drinks a lot. Anyhow, I made my bargain and I want to stick by it. Somebody has to take care of the family, and while it ain’t just like I might have asked for, why, I done the best I knew how.

Ellie May Adams: That’s what them Greeks said.

Mamie Adams: Them Greeks down the street?

Ellie May Adams: No, Pa’s Greeks. They say, “you don’t live like you want to. You live like you got to.”

That line, “somebody has to take care of the family”, if you don’t understand why some people do what they do, that should take off your blindfold. The crowd in the church that is money-driven like to point to the part of the Gospels when the Christ said render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, when He says that His kingdom is not of this world. That is their out to ignore the compassion of Jesus. They ignore that He didn’t feed the people crumbs. He fed the people fish, and bread. And when He made wine, He made the best.

It’s depressing what Ellie May’s mom descended to, to keep food on the table. I bet there are a few Mamies in this world who seek the red light because they’re cut that way. You will find them like moths at the flame no matter the system in which we live. But no one should go there because that’s the only way to keep food on the table.

We can have capitalism, but it cannot be without a large and generous safety net. If that’s the life Mamie wanted, well, that’s her business. But forcing her into it, I say that system has to check itself.

Duck Run III

I’m kind of lost on this Duck Run story about the people and the land that was run by Channel 7 on Tuesday night. I don’t understand the reluctance to give up a piece of land for a cemetery. We need to be clear about this story’s beginning.

Utter nonsense, Mr. Gobert

I too have a team in this exciting NBA world, but they haven’t made the playoffs since Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes, and Phil Chenier were heroes. Sports is simulated war, and the way it’s hyped up, the experience provokes powerful emotions. In the moment, the joy of victory and the pain of defeat are real.

Now, in the moment, a star basketball player, Mister Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves, in complete disregard for his teammates and the team’s millions of fans, decided that he would desert a big game because he had to be with his wife who was having a child. There is no mention that the wife and the unborn child were in critical condition. There is no mention that Mr. Gobert was the only person capable of delivering his child. I say Mister Gobert is lucky I am way out of ink for today. But dis noh done.

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