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Response to pampango (Reply #10)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 12:29 PM

12. oppression can come in subtle ways

in jobs and hiring, for example. The gas station down the block from me was bought by some Pakistanis, or Pakistani immigrants. Well, once that happened, only Pakistanis were working there. The gas station across the street (presumably owned by non-Pakistanis) went out of business. Now it too has been bought by the Pakistanis who have put in a liquor store.

Another example, my graduate school roommate, from around Calcutta. He has now been in this country for 24 years or so, maybe 25. Having gotten his PhD, he has been working good paying jobs as a finance professor. Say, for 20 years at $60,000 a year. He's made $1.2 million in salary. To work in a classroom. Me, what have I been doing? In those same 20 years, I have been making less than $20,000 a year - to work in a hot, dirty, noisy factory, or to clean toilets. My income has been about $300,000 for those twenty years.

Granted, I only got an MA and he got a PhD. But he was also already married with two kids. Me, I wanted to get the hell done with school and start living an actual life. I felt like a moron when I went to my ten year reunion and had been going to more fucking school for 7 of the ten years, and had nothing but an $8,000 a year part-time job to show for it.

Also granted, my roommate is a) way, way smarter than I am, and b) also seemed to have gotten a superior education in India to my own in SD. So perhaps the USA benefits from his brilliance (somehow) but it seems like he sure has benefitted too, and if the country benefits, it is pretty clear that I do not. So my question would be, did my ancestors pay taxes to support the University of Wisconsin so that it could grant advanced degrees (and scholarships) to people from India who then take good paying jobs in Wisconsin while one of their grandsons works cleaning toilets?

My roommate's daughter has probably now graduated from Princeton, and will compete with my nieces and nephews for good jobs. I know that I am just a selfish racist bastard who would like to see my own family live decent lives, and get good jobs, but there it is. I'd like to see my own family prosper ahead of the family of that immigrant (even though he is an old friend (that I have not seen or spoken to in 22 years)), but I have my doubts that a Northwest Missouri State degree is gonna compete well against Princeton.

One more example. In 2010, I ran for Congress. Raised about $300 and spent $3,000 of my own money. Got a whole $50 from my classmates, thank you very much. Raj Goyle, an Indian immigrant who has a $70,000 (or more) a year job as a professor and also was in the Kansas Legislature. He ran for Congress, and raised over $1,000,000 - mostly from other Indian-Americans (heck my college roommate might even have donated to him). Hell, even DFA, where I WAS a monthly donor, endorsed him. This in spite of the fact that he was hardly a progressive and ran his campign with the message of "cut taxes, cut waste, in the legilsature I voted with Republicans 90% of the time" (and when I found that out, I stopped my monthly donation)). They would not have endorsed me, I am pretty sure, because they did not endorse the person who beat me in the primary and she is more progressive than I am, and I, for all my faults, am more progressive (at least on budget and taxes, if not on immigration) than Raj Goyle.

But money matters more than message in our political system and DFA probably has rich Indian-American donors who are far more important than I am. Raj's million was supposed to make him more electable. He got 37% of the vote, my opponent (who did almost no work) got 32%. My own goal was 40% and I would have done more work. (Which may not have mattered. After all, I did much more work in the primary and I still lost.)

So I am stuck down in the bottom quintile while those Indian-Americans are in the top quintile and apparently looking out for each other too. But what am I thinking. It's not like poor people are oppressed in this country. It's NOT intentional, it is just in the scramble to get ahead, some people have a head start and a community of support and others just get trampled.

But that does make me think. I should call my old roommate and my former graduate school classmates and see if they will contribute to my campaign for treasurer.

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