Steve Almond tells a story of corporate and political greed, as seen through the eyes of a hotel maintenance worker.
Steve Almond, one of the original contributors to The Good Men Project book, has published an essay at The Rumpus about corporate and political greed, as seen through the eyes of a hotel maintenance man who is suddenly asked to leave the hotel for the weekend by his boss. Here’s an excerpt of Almond’s What We Remember of the Old Country from The Rumpus’ series on Greed:
But then it’s Friday morning and the guy who acts like your boss – he’s not really your boss, but he could make trouble about your papers, so he gets to deliver orders like they were his – tells you there’s no work today, no work tomorrow, or Sunday. You look at him like, What? Because this is late January, peak season, and the register lists every single room as booked through Monday.
Go home, he says. Don’t come back till Tuesday.
Am I in trouble? you say.Just get the fuck out of here, he says. Crack some beers. Have a fiesta.
You want to ask someone what’s going on, but you can tell from the way this asshole’s talking to you that he’s scared, too, that whatever’s happening is bigger than he can pretend to understand. So what you do is park yourself behind a berm near the driving range, and watch as the black SUVs glide in from the airport. Men emerge from them, alone, in suits mostly, a few golf shirts. They blink at the sun, glance around, slip into the lobby. You’d like a closer look but you realize, suddenly, that there are private security guys flanking every entrance, standing in the small rods of shadow cast by the columns. There’s a queasy charge in the air that reminds you of something you saw as a little boy, standing outside the municipal building with your father. A phalanx of bodyguards passed by, at their center a plump man in a fedora and sunglasses.
You asked, Is it the governor, papa?
Your father issued a sharp hiss and lowered his head and you understood, without wanting to, that it was your place also to fall silent and look away, that this was the nature of true power, to make itself invisible, and to impose its will through the garish, costumed puppets of the church and state.
So you go home. What choice do you have? It’s not your place to solve the mystery of American democracy. But here, in fact, is what’s happening:
Charles and David Koch, inheritors of an oil and chemical fortune, have invited 250 of their wealthiest allies to a retreat which will raise $100 million in a single weekend. This money will be funneled into political action committees to buy television ads against the President. Virtually every single one of these ads will be driven by distortions, or outright lies. They will represent an unprecedented infusion of propaganda into the political discourse of the United States. The special interests once focused on morally malleable elected officials will try their luck lobbying a lazy and aggrieved electorate.
The reason you and the rest of the staff have been sent home—that the restaurants have been closed, the facilities locked down—is because the Koch Brothers don’t want people to know what they’re doing. If word gets out, protestors show up, then the media, then people start asking questions about the motives of those willing to pony up $100 million to shape the electoral process.
Photo courtesy of takau99