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Walmart shaming shows country's class divide

A Walmart store in Commerce, Texas on Sept.

A Walmart store in Commerce, Texas on Sept. 4, 2019. Credit: LARRY W SMITH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/LARRY W SMITH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

In case you still don’t realize it, even before you struggle out of bed to head for a job you fear you may lose at any moment, you are already totally screwed.

The deals have long-since been made. Palms have been greased. Connected friends and relatives hired and paid. Golden parachutes assigned to already wealthy CEOs. Platinum-plated pension and health care plans parceled out. Aspen and Maui retreats planned. Lobbyist jobs dangled before and awaiting those who write and oversee our laws.

You, in the meantime — and as ever — remain nothing more than annoying white noise in the background. Your real fears, increasingly desperate situation and multiplying problems are once again ignored, or exploited by the infinitesimal percentage of our fellow citizens who inhabit the elite inner-circles that decide the fate for every single one of us.

Maybe that’s why, based upon book bestseller lists and other evidence, it’s in vogue at the moment to make fun of the “People of Walmart.” While it escapes me why some would choose to demean, fat shame, bully, humiliate, disdain and literally laugh at the desperately poor, the developmentally challenged, the less-educated and fellow human beings truly in physical and mental anguish, it is but one more sign of the growing gulf between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”

What sick and twisted joy do the People of Buckingham Palace, the People of the Boardroom, the People of the Country Club, the People of any White House, the People of Hollywood, the People of the Ivy League Clubs and the people of the entrenched-establishments derive from looking down upon those who have less than them in a “material” or “cultured” sense?

After all, which is truly worse for society: one of the “unwashed masses” who may not know the “proper” fork to use at a five-star restaurant or someone from the “upper-class” whose crimes and monstrous deeds can no longer be shielded from the public by high-priced lawyers and public relations teams?

I’ll take the people of Walmart any day of the week. They are people who often do have their fate dribbled out to them by the elites in the inner-circles of life. For instance, many of the People of Walmart have an ongoing interest in the fate of the various “Medicare for All” proposals now being offered and debated. They have an interest because many can’t afford even basic health care, and those who can are being financially crushed by the burden.

Well, surprise. OK, not really a surprise. While those “have-nots” were working and simply trying to cope with the pain of life, certain lobbyists were involved in drafting anti-Medicare for All talking points to be inserted in various opinion pieces being “written” by state lawmakers.

Worse than that deception is the fact that the bias, motivations and assistance of the lobbyists was hidden from the readers of those opinion columns.

But then, the People of Walmart are not “sophisticated” enough to understand that basically every single column they read that is “written” by the president, a senator a representative or a local lawmaker was either drafted by a staff member, peppered with talking points from lobbyists, or both.

Multiply that practice times every single issue before the White House, Congress and local statehouses, and the People of Walmart can then begin to understand that they not only have no seat at the table, but that their real-life experiences and opinions are totally irrelevant to the “solutions” being foisted upon them.

If you are one of the “People of Walmart,” you need to ask yourself who fights for you? Which ultra-influential and connected lobbyist understands that if you lose your job you will be evicted? That if you get sick one more time, you will lose that job. That a vacation is only for those in movies or on television. That on a monthly basis, you have to sacrifice paying one utility so that you will have enough money to pay the rent and feed your children. That you are petrified to walk in your own neighborhood at night for fear of your own safety.

In one way or another, if we are not part of those minute, elite inner-circles of absolute power, we are all “People of Walmart” simply looking to survive.

Good luck with that.

Douglas MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official and author of the novel: “The North Pole Project — In Search of the True Meaning of Christmas.” He wrote this for The Baltimore Sun.

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