Remember the days when you flew a lot for your organization?
Do you remember getting bonus miles from an airline?
Do you recall that many them (and companies in other industries) called this a “Loyalty Program”?
Why do you suppose some of them called it a “Loyalty Program” instead of a “Frequent Flyer” program?
Did you ever work for a manager or supervisor or boss whom you felt loyalty toward?
Why did you feel that loyalty?
What would you do if you caught your boss stealing from the company?
Was your relationship to your boss more personal than your loyalty to the company?
Artwork by Pierce Morgan
I had many part time jobs working my way through college. One of those jobs was as a projectionist (1964). It did not pay much (less than $2/hour), but it was a fun job in many ways. I got to stride all over the large university campus, mainly to show slides or movies to classes in the School of Architecture, Law School, Medical School, etc. I had a direct supervisor, Ted, who taught me the facts of life — at least, when it came to male & female plugs, the value of looping your cords, and of carrying with you at all times on the job, a spare projection lamp, a spare sound drum lamp, and a small film-splicing kit. He happened to be a Democrat.
Another man, tall and bald Mr. “Cramer”, served as boss for the whole A/V department. He was a Republican, like me. I liked both of the people in my “management chain.” Neither one played any stupid “power games.” So far as I could see, we all just wanted to do a good job. That applied to my co-workers as well though I only interacted with them rarely. The nature of being a projectionist then led almost exclusively to solo gigs.
That was okay with me. If there had been two of us in a projection both hidden away from fellow students and faculty, by sight and sound, being Sophomores, we probably would have acted sophomoronically and made fun of the material being presented or ignored it entirely and played cards or solved the world’s problems in a BS session. Working alone, I listened to every single lecture on topics that I would never get to in my paid classes; e.g., American 20th Century Architects including my favorite, Frank Lloyd Wright (awesome!); Collagen as a possible cause of aging (it isn’t); Alcohol and Driving. (Spoiler alert on that last one — not a good idea).
In order to get paid (for attending these free lectures), I had to fill out a time card every day and sign it at the end of the week. My direct supervisor hinted that I could put down a few more hours than I actually worked. I didn’t do that. He hinted again. I still didn’t do it. Eventually, Mr. Cramer spoke to me. He explained that if the department didn’t bill for their allotted hours, the departmental budget for the next year would be cut to match the hours that were billed for the current year. I still didn’t pad my hours, though I certainly could have used the money. It did seem a bit unfair to me that the department would have their budget cut because they were efficient. On the other hand, from the perspective of the entire university, it didn’t seem like such a ridiculous system. I didn’t feel as though I was being “disloyal” to my direct supervisor or the department boss to write down my true hours. Nor, did I feel particularly virtuous in putting my hours down accurately. It was just what I felt was the right thing to do. I don’t think it actually occurred to me to try to “rat on” my boss about the policy of padding the hours. I’m not sure whether that thought ever crossed my mind, but I didn’t do it.
It should be noted that at that point in my life, I considered myself a Republican, though I was not yet old enough to vote. My parents had both been Republican. My mother’s entire family was Republican. I was enthusiastic about Eisenhower and went to see Nixon talk at a nearby shopping center. I was likely only about 20-30 feet away. I have zero recollection of what he said, but he had seemed wonderful at the time.
That same year, I also went to see Kennedy in an open car motorcade down Triplett Boulevard in Akron. He didn’t give a speech; he just waved to the crowd. I was curious because I had heard that he was super handsome. To me, he looked awful and not the least bit handsome. I could not understand why women thought he was attractive. His face looked like wrinkled leather to me. I grew up Republican and was “rooting for” Nixon. (Even my mother thought JFK was handsome, though she still voted for Nixon).
Nonetheless, like nearly everyone I knew, I was fairly well devastated by John F. Kennedy’s assassination the year before I began working in the university A/V department. I was deeply saddened by his death and wondered seriously about the “conspiracy theories” about Johnson (among other possible criminal masterminds) having engineered the assassination. I didn’t believe any of them, but I did consider many of them as real possibilities.
But even if it had turned out that Johnson had engineered he whole thing, I wouldn’t have believed that every Democrat was a crook or an evil person. I knew people who were Democrats and they weren’t any more or less ethical than Republicans. They had a different agenda. And a different espoused philosophy.
Ayn Rand had written two of my favorite books (then), The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Great stuff, I thought at the time. I felt like I could be one of the heroes in her books. I see now that people are much more interdependent than I realized back then (although, the degree of interdependence has also increased over the last half century — a lot!). Her work, at that time, gave me a philosophy somewhat in line with what the Republican Party said it was about — a high degree of individual freedom coupled with a high degree of individual responsibility, focused on, but not limited to yourself.
In the current days, there are still people who label themselves as “Republican” who claim to subscribe to Ayn Rand’s philosophy. As someone who used to be very simpatico to her ideas, I cry “Bullshit!” The character of folks like Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, and Rand Paul are much like some of the villains in her fiction — nothing like the heroes. The heroes of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are the people who get paid a lot of money for actually producing something worthwhile; e.g., amazing buildings or a new and extremely cheap energy source. The villains are the cheats and the con men and the people who call in political favors and give contracts to people for kickbacks. The villains are the people who try to subvert the cheap new energy source to keep their oil profits!
Moreover, though it’s risky business to speak on behalf of a dead person, let me put it this way. I cannot imagine Ayn Rand agreeing to the kind of shenanigans that the GOP is trying to pull off now. She would have no doubt been against social security and for privatization. But she would not have thought it ethical to steal the money from the social security taxes and give it out to billionaires. In fact, she was for a progressive income tax. Her rationale was that the rich benefit so much more than do the poor from all the legitimate functions of government: police, fire, roads, post office, armed forces, courts of law, education(?). I’m not sure any more of her precise list, but it’s very short. It certainly doesn’t include having the government take on the job of dictating religious beliefs, or restricting a person’s sexual behavior among consenting adults, or of subverting elections, or of taking on the role of Crime Family in Chief.
Trumputinists are not in any way shape or form taking their values or agenda from Ayn Rand. Some of them are absurdly accurate real-life portraits of her villains. None are anything like her heroes. All her heroes provided actual value. Trading money and favors and telling lies and making false promises and being a con man and a child molester — these are not value-creating activities. Not heroes. Villains.
Of course, there’s nothing sacred about Ayn Rand’s (mislabelled) system of “Objectivism.” There’s no particular reason why the Republican Party, or any other party, should base it’s own philosophy on “Objectivism” but it has made me suspicious about what the Republicans are really are up. They have claimed to be about individual freedom, but have increasingly been for taking freedoms away — the Second Amendment being the singular exception. Instead of being for real freedoms that actually matter such as — very importantly — Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, they now generate and promulgate made up freedoms such as “The Freedom to Infect Others” or “The Freedom to be an Asshole” and the “Freedom to Call the Police when POC Exists Somewhere I Can See Them.” These are not freedoms. And they are certainly not in line with responsibility.
So, as you might now guess, I have come a long way politically from being an Ayn Rand fan and a Republican to being a Democrat. Some of that is because I have changed. As I said, it’s far clearer to me now that we really don’t earn our money independently of each other. We don’t live our lives independently. All of us are in this together whether we admit it or not.
It hasn’t just been me who has been changing though. When I was first forming my opinions about the two major US political parties, it was more often the Southern Democrats who were promoting racism than it was Republicans. And, it was Democrats, not Republicans, who seemed more instrumental in getting us into dubious wars, dubiously led.
Some of the Republican values seemed to have completely reversed from before. For instance, at this point, the Republican Party is far more ready to embrace racism and racists. No serious Democratic political entity would do that — at least not intentionally. That, to me, is sufficiently evil to put the GOP out of the running for my votes.
On the other hand, until recently at least, the GOP had some quite reasonable positions. I didn’t agree with them all, but they were reasonable. How much should America put time, energy, dollars, and the lives of our citizens at risk to make the world a more democratic place? You can’t look up the answer to a question like that in a trig table. It’s a complex issue requiring a balance of long-term direction and short-term flexibility so you can do the right thing even though the “right thing” is a choice between the lesser of two evils.
How fiscally conservative should the US Government be? How much should the government try to regulate different industries and companies? How much of our tax dollars should go to research various topics in science and medicine? What do we do about climate change? There are a host of issues where it’s actually useful to get input from a variety of different sources and where working together makes sense.
Lately, however, the so-called “Republican Party” has made such a sweeping change, that it seems absurd to me to even call it the “Republican” Party any longer.
For example, “How fiscally conservative should the US Government be?” is not a question that the so-called Republican party even deigns to consider. They have new position which is: “Make the economy look good and do whatever it takes to make the DOW go up all the while funneling as much money as possible to us and a few of our friends.” That is not a political position! That is a criminal position.
“How much should the government try to regulate different industries and companies?” is not a question that the so-called Republican party wants to consider. Their position is, “How can we make Americans sick by rolling back EPA and OSHA regulations while simultaneously getting kickbacks and making the economy look better.” That is what they are about. Again, it is not a political compromise about where to be on some tradeoff function between economics and health. No. It’s a strategy for crime; for graft; for stealing your tax dollars and making the planet worse for your children and grandchildren — not better — worse.
“How much of your tax dollars should go to various topics in science and medicine?” This no longer interests the So-Called Republican Party (SCRAP). What does interest them is to funnel as much of your tax dollars as they can to their friends and family and donors. Scientific peer review? So experts will determine what should be funded? Ridiculous! We’ll fund whomever we damned well please. Again, that is not a political tradeoff that should be debated; e.g., how much research money should go to long term versus short term research. No, it is a criminal agenda. That is what SCRAP is up to.
“What do we do about climate change?” This is an issue that everyone in every party should care about. It is about the quality of the world that we leave for our children, our grand-children, our great grand-children and all the living being son this planet! And what is the SCRAP position on how we should go about this? It isn’t a problem! It doesn’t exist! It’s all a hoax!
Not so long ago, Republicans and Democrats differed in their philosophies about Judges. The Republicans generally preferred “Strict Constitutionalists” while Democrats preferred judges who would take into account the current situation in interpreting the Constitution. This is nothing like what current SCRAP are doing. They want to select as many judges as possible who will swear loyalty to them. This is tough to carry out because people often, but not always, get into the law because they respect the Law. So, “conservatives” and “strict constitutionalists” may refuse to render opinions just to please the people who got them confirmed. But the fact that SCRAP is trying to execute an ineffective criminal plan doesn’t make it any less criminal.
Political parties evolve. They change. They will continue to change.
Evolution takes time though. The Republican and Democratic Parties changed their positions on racism over the course of decades.
The changes I am talking about above are massive changes. And, they have taken place only since Donald Trump took office and they have accelerated after the GOP Senate refused (save Mitt Romney) to convict Trump on his impeachment charges. Perhaps even more important than the fact that they failed to convict Trump is that Mitch McConnell swore, along with all the other Senators, to hold a fair and impartial trial. And, then, Mitch McConnell, in full view of everyone, smiled and laughed and promised that Trump would be found Not Guilty and that he would coordinate his running of the trial with Trump’s defense team. He promised Trump that they would subpoena no documents and call no witnesses.
This goes way beyond being loyal to “your team” or “your party” — this is putting the Party above the Country. This is SCRAP, not the GOP, not the traditional Republican Party. If anything, my expectations are that actual Republicans might be faulted too much for sticking to the rules and might do so even when common sense demanded a slight bending of the rules. But this is not “bending the rules.” This is throwing the whole idea that rules matter completely out the window. You may think that’s just swell. I don’t. And maybe we can debate that later. But the point here is that it is a massive change in SCRAP.
If you think of yourself as a Republican, you have to do some real soul searching here. Are you being loyal to the “Republican Party” that you’ve been a part of for awhile? Or are you being loyal to SCRAP? Old Time Republican Party — believed in the rule of law; believed in playing fair; believed American power in international affairs was important; believed in individual responsibility. SCRAP – believes in dictatorship; believes in cheating; believes in letting Russia dictate foreign policy; believes in magic and crime not data-based management of government.
And, there are consequences. In the rush to fulfill Trump’s agenda (make the Trump Crime Family Rich and stay in power as dictator), people have died who did not need to die from COVID19. More people — many more than have died so far — are also likely going to die — also people who did not need to die. Is that really what you signed up for? Is that really the Republican Party? I don’t think it is. But I’m no longer a Republican. I’m looking at this from the outside. The Republicans I have known throughout my life would not support most of this SCRAP. Mr. Cramer, my old A/V boss would not have supported this SCRAP. My grandfather would not have supported this SCRAP. My three uncles who fought in World War II would not have supported this SCRAP. My mother would not have supported this SCRAP. My father, who also fought in WWII would not have supported this SCRAP.
How about you?
Where does your loyalty lie?
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