When I saw this Murdoch Street Journal column by Peggy Noonan linked on Google News, I knew it would be fab fodder for Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors. He doesn't disappoint. (Distributor Cap did some fun illustrations too, I might add.)
However, when I saw the title of the babblethon, "We Pay Them to Be Rude to Us," I thought it might be fodder for political commentary. Noonan didn't disappoint either. So, I broke my rule about linking to Rupert Murdoch's media empire to dish her crap.
What I find so intriguing about Ms. Noonan's meandering prose in this case is that she complains about things that are the fault of the rightist era brought into place in this country by her idol, the execrable Ronald Reagan.
Once we were a great industrial nation. Now we are a service economy. Which means we are forced to interact with each other, every day, in person and by phone and email. And it's making us all a little mad.
Ronnie was the person who pushed a "free trade" agreement with Mexico that eventually was implemented by fellow rightist, Bill Clinton. Instead of calling for higher tariffs to keep corporations from exporting industry abroad. Ronnie was a cheerleader for deindustrialization. All the rightists who have been in the office have supported corporate controlled trade too. Yet, she doesn't see the connection between the right and our service oriented economy.
Noonan also complains about a letter she got a few years back.
I wrote of the same experience a few years ago and got a letter from a saleswoman in a big department store. She said, I paraphrase: "You misunderstand, it's not that we haven't been taught how to behave, it's that we have. We are trained to make and maintain eye contact, we are taught to intrude, we are instructed to act in a way that people used to recognize as rude behavior."
This is mainly the result of conservative policies. The primary cause is the draining of income from the poor and middle class and the diversion to the rich. That has increased shoplifting, whose prevention is the main goal of all that "friendly" but really watchful behavior by salespeople.
Peggy Noonan later complained about the tightened security in airports that is the result of the right's foreign policies and the efforts to create a terrorized populace at home. Her specific complaints about a screener are loaded with irony, given her position to the political right.
When I'd first gone through the machine and then been manhandled, a month before, I was so taken aback that I blurted "Wow, that was embarrassing." I said it softly, in a way that invited mild commiseration of the "I know, I'm sorry I have to do this" sort. Instead, with full Dead Face, the TSA woman said, "Have a nice day." As I walked away I thought: She has been taught by consultants how to "handle" people like me. Her instructions are that if anyone accepts her ministrations with anything but passive surrender, she is to show she is impervious and keep the line moving. She is probably taught this in a class given by government contractors who are paid by taxpayers to handle taxpayers. Meaning I pay her to be rude to me.
I'll have to number these.
1) Customer service oriented at shutting up consumers and getting them to take it is part and parcel of deregulation that has affected nearly every sector of our economy. Smiling while not giving a flying fuck has become a cultural norm in a society where corporations have way too much power. Why should corporations give a shit when government policy keeps the balance of power in their favor?
2) Contempt for consumers has grown as retail outlets consolidate. Much of the consolidation of that sector and others is illegal under antitrust law. But, conservative administrations refuse to engage in much beyond the most token enforcement of antitrust law. Corporations that don't need to fight for customers have created a situation where The Customer Is Serf, and that too has permeated the culture.
3) The excessive reliance on government contractors is the result of privatization of so much of our government, another rightist policy.
4) The disregard for privacy is one of the most prominent political tenets on the right. Ronnie's opposition to abortion was a prime example of it and set the stage for other violations of privacy. This all has gotten much worse after 911 where the right's politicians were more interested in using the attacks as an excuse to violate the privacy of innocent Americans than to actually improve our nation's defenses against terrorism. Anti regulatory sentiment also has kept regulations from being passed to restrict the voracious appetites of corporations for peoples' private information.
Ms. Noonan is pained by the effects on her person by living in a rightist society. I would be sympathetic towards her if not for how she has been one of the most obnoxious enablers of the very things she rails against. She recognizes that we all want an evacuation slide like the one taken by the heroic Steve Slater. But, she is so beholden to the very system that is making us all wish we could bail out sometimes.
Update: Sean Fenley skewers Noonan for another recent column where she refuses to take responsibility for the rightist policies that are making most Americans justifiably outraged these days.