Quotes of the Day

From Think Progress, two sentiments you won’t be hearing from European politicians anytime soon (I doubt Sarkozy’s slogan "work more to earn more (F)" refers to working more jobs):

Representative Michelle Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, January 16, 2008: "I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We’re the workingest state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs."

President Bush, speaking to a divorced mother of three in February of 2005: “You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that.”

UPDATE: After I thought about it a bit, something else about Bush’s quote irritated me: the American tic of identifying something as "uniquely American" or exclaiming "only in America!" after some rags-to-riches story.  This is classic Frankfurtian bullshit: generally, Americans who say these things haven’t the faintest idea whether the stuff they’re describing really does happen only in the U.S., (usually because they have only the dimmest idea of what goes on in other countries).

To take Bush’s example, I’m sure there are lots of countries in which people who are trying to support a family might work as many as three jobs.  India and China come to mind.  While I was in the U.S., I lost track of the number of times I heard Barack Obama’s life (white American mother, black Kenyan father) described as an "only-in-America" story. As a friend exclaimed the 14th time we heard some TV announcer say this, "that statement is almost certainly demonstrably false."  Nor, for that matter, was Bill Clinton’s life story of growing up in poverty with a single mother and becoming leader of his country particularly exceptional; look at Brazil and Germany.  Get ready to hear any number of spurious "only in America!"s if Hillary Clinton is elected.

The only thing that might is "uniquely American" in all of the above, I’d say, is the idea that having to work three jobs is "’fantastic."

3 thoughts on “Quotes of the Day

  1. In my home state of Connecticut, working two or three jobs for those climbing up the economic ladder, or just to remain in the middle class, is all too frequent. Very destructive of families. Husband and wife both working their asses off, their latchkey children neglected. How is it possible, as Bachmann is, to be proud of such a state of affairs?

    Not that I’m against a solid work ethic, but let’s get our priorities straight: work to live, not live to work.

  2. I’m not so sure, whether India and China are good countries for workinger people. Although I’ve personally never been there and haven’t even met a Indian or Chinese citizen in person, I always had the impression that most people there don’t even have time to work more than one job and are still poor(unless they’re wealthy, but in that case they won’t work two jobs either).

    Whatever, calling it “uniquely American” when someone is exploited and exploits herself like that is way cynic. (Of course, she can be proud of managing three jobs while still raising children, but her President shouldn’t be proud of this achievement.)

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