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American Wage Slave

86 pages1 hour


Wage Slave is born deformed to a family of heavy drinkers. His mother is a paranoid schizophrenic. He is mentally ill and disabled, but he is can't afford good enough doctors to make his disability case, so he lives in the netherworld between unemployment and disability. The pressure of not being strong enough to lift himself out of poverty, and being labeled a malingerer unworthy of aid, finally drives him over the edge. When psychiatric treatment, and the surgeries he needs, finally come, it is already too late. He spirals into a dark path of downward mobility.

Discredited and abandoned, he drifts from job to job, each new job often as bad as, or worse, than the previous one. His first wife cuts him off. His first two families run away without leaving a forwarding address. He is forced into a third family which he eventually abandons, believing they will never understand him. He attempts a second engagement, but the pressure of working while disabled results in another hospitalization. He realizes his mental health is so bad that he is unable to marry and work. Utterly lost, he drifts from relationship to relationship, his health, and therefore his personality, deteriorating as he loses access to consistent health insurance and safe and clean housing.

The plight of Wage Slave is both big news and no news, big news because his fate is shared by countless millions of people, but also no news because, in spite of how many people live under identical circumstances, the overall topic of his life is still taboo. Even the words used to describe his story have been purged from the English language and have been replaced by the language of denial. As the linguistic tsunami of Positive Thinking, Religious Science, New Age Healing, Positivity Coaching, Affirmation Training, The Prosperity Gospel, and A Course In Miracles, washes over the landscape, indulging in Wage Slave's story has become a social crime for which the punishment is instant cult-like shunning, disfellowshipping and interpersonal excommunication.

You can speak of the story of those murdered, of those tortured, even of whole populations suffering genocide, but Wage Slave's story is still off limits. This cuts across political lines; and, if you try to talk about it, you will find your Democratic congressperson every bit as hostile to you as your Republican senator. Why? Because everyone lives with the subconscious fact that Wage Slave's story could easily become their own story. It is as if each American were navigating a thin trail on the top of an endless mountain ridge with thousand-foot drop-offs on either side. In such a world, the one forbidden topic would be that of possibly falling. It's simply too close to home to admit into the conscious mind; and so we plod on, unreal to each other, as we deny each other, face to face, the opportunity to tell our real life story, since that story points to, at every turn, a possible plunge into Wage Slave's fate.

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